Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “may you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered. When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked. Matthew 21:18
I was pondering this scripture today for some reason. Well, really, the reason is I was working in my yard today and I found the perfect spot to plant a fig tree. When I thought about planting a fig tree it made me think about this scripture. As I was thinking about it I remembered teaching a Sunday School class about it, and I remembered what I said during that class. I spiritualized it ’cause that’s what you do when you’re teaching a Sunday School class, right? I remembered a few days before seeing a fig tree that looked worse for wear. And I said to that class full of adults, “Just like Jesus cursed this fig tree, that tree may as well have been dead. What good is a tree that won’t bear fruit? As Christians, we’re the same. If we aren’t bearing fruit for the Kingdom we may as well be dead.” Wow…sounds really good, doesn’t it? Just typing that now makes me queasy.
The thing is, I’d never really compared that scripture with this one:
The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “may no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it. Mark 11:12-14
Then Jesus clears the temple then they went out of the city and spent the night….
In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”
Now for the time being I’m ignoring everything else that’s a problem with these verses, like the fact that one has the tree withering immediately and the other has it overnight. No, for now I want to focus on something else that occurred to me today when I was doing my thinking. Riding around long enough to mow five acres gives you plenty of time to think. 🙂 It was out of season for figs to begin with. Why would Jesus expect there to be figs on a tree when it wasn’t the season for figs? Isn’t he God? Doesn’t he know when figs are in season? Why has this thought not occurred to me before? Furthermore if Jesus was hungry, instead of killing the tree, why didn’t He just make figs grow on the tree out of season? That would have been way more impressive. Figs appearing immediately on a tree that only moments before had no figs on it, and out of season to boot.
Maybe it’s just me but it seems a little like cursing and killing the fig tree smacks of just being grumpy because he was hungry. “I’ll show you not to have figs when I’m hungry, take that!” I thought any anger besides righteous anger was a sin.