MARK 11:12-26 tells us of a remarkable incident involving our Lord Jesus, a fig tree and the Temple.
In the week before His crucifixion, our Lord Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem. On the way, He saw a fig tree that was full of leaves. Generally, fig trees produce figs between February and April. But sometimes they produce fruit out of season as well. One sign of there being fruit on a fig tree, was its thick foliage. A fig tree with plenty of leaves was believed to be a tree with fruit. The fig tree that our Lord Jesus saw on the way to Jerusalem, was full of leaves. Our Lord was hungry and went near the tree, looking for fruit that He could eat. There was none.
So, He cursed the tree. The Bible records that the disciples who were with Him, heard Him cursing the tree. Our Lord then carried on into Jerusalem and to the Temple.
The scene at the Temple disturbed our Lord. People were selling sacrifices in the temple courtyard. The Bible records that our Lord cleared the temple of these sellers and money changers. It would not have been an easy thing to do. Tables were overturned, doves in cages were set free, there would have been shouting and quite a scene. We, too, must remember to never let the business of the church become more important than the purpose of the church. Jesus let the animals and birds meant for sacrifice free – He declared their freedom, because He knew the cross was coming soon. He was the final and ultimate sacrifice that would bear the curse of sin, for the whole of humanity. The next morning, on their way back to Jerusalem, they came across the fig tree again. It was destroyed from the roots.
Why is this incident so significant that God thought it necessary to record in the Bible?
The fig tree makes its appearance early on in the Bible, as early as the book of Genesis, chapter 3. Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden, used fig leaves to cover themselves when they realized they were naked. The fig tree is symbolic of the law that brings judgment. In this particular incident, Jesus compares His people, Israel, to this fig tree. Jesus curses Israel because it had all the leaves but no fruit, as the activities of the Temple proved. Let us check our lives so that we can evaluate whether we have the form of Godliness but lacking in fruit in any area of our life. God likes to see fruitfulness in His children. God does not want us to have a form of godliness, and yet live lives that deny His power in us. We may be able to hide our fruitlessness from others, but not from God. God sees us through and through, just as He went to the fig tree and looked at it. In the same way, He examines our lives.
Jesus commanded the fig tree to die. Here was the Creator of the universe commanding something to happen, but the evidence wasn’t immediately visible. The visible evidence (dead tree), was only found the next day. There maybe times when it appears as though our prayers are going unanswered, there are no visible signs. But be encouraged, God maybe working on the problem from the root, just like the fig tree which dried up from the root. There was no chance it would grow back because it was destroyed from the root.
It is important to note that our Lord Jesus commanded the fig tree and then cleansed the temple. 1 Corinthians 3:16 and I Corinthians 6:16 tell us our body is the temple of God. We need to cleanse and purify ourselves from the inside out. When that happens, our prayers will be heard and answered. We need to cleanse ourselves of all the evil things that are doing business in our lives. If we are faithful to cleanse the temple, He will be faithful to destroy unfruitfulness in our lives, from the roots.
The writer is the pastor in-charge of Bethel AG International Worship Center in Bangalore, India.