Summary: God expects us to bear fruit or face the curse!
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Pastor James May
HAVE YOU ANY FIGS?
Mark 11:11-14, "And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve. And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry: And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it."
Mark 11:20-21, "And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away."
God’s Kingdom is often described in terms of being a vineyard which is expected to bear fruit.
In Matthew chapter 20 Jesus uses the vineyard as an example of how God will reward every man according to his obedience and faithfulness. In Matthew chapter 21 he again uses a vineyard to teach us concerning the attitudes of both the obedient and disobedient servants. In Mark chapter 12 Jesus again uses the example of a vineyard to teach us concerning the fact that he has gone on a long journey leaving his vineyard in the hands of “husbandmen” or appointed farmers and then sent his servant to gather his portion of the fruit that was produced. Those husbandmen killed the servant and would give no fruit to the owner of the vineyard. It’s a picture of God allowing each of us the privilege of working for him but expecting fruit when he returns or we will face his wrath.
The vineyards around Israel weren’t filled with only grapevines. There were also olive trees and many types of fruit trees. Among those fruit trees were the fig trees.
There were several varieties of fig trees in the land during the time that Jesus walked upon the earth. One of these was a white fig tree that did not ripen until the third year. This tree put forth its fruit the first year, which hung on it the second, and were brought to perfection on the third, so that when it was three years old, it had figs from all three years upon it and was usually full of leaves, when other fig trees had no leaves yet.
There was also a second variety of fig tree that brought forth fruit twice a year and therefore would be filled with leaves and fruit at a time when the ordinary trees were not expected to be bearing fruit.
Then there was the common variety that most of us see each year that bring forth new leaves in early spring but take up to 5 months for the figs to ripen so that they would ripen in late summer or early fall in the land of Israel. According to the materials that I have studied it was unlikely that the fig tree that Jesus saw was one of these common varieties because he was in Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover in the month Nisan.
Nisan was the first month of the sacred year of the Jewish calendar, and is nearly the same as the month of March on our calendar. It was originally called Abibi, but began to be called Nisan after the captivity in Egypt.
As we begin to examine this event we must remember that Jesus has now entered Jerusalem for the last few days of his life. Before this week would end he would be crucified. He has already entered the gates of the city riding upon the donkey. He has just entered into the temple and overthrown the tables of the moneychangers who were selling doves and other animals for sacrifice within the temple walls. (That’s another sermon for another time.)