Summary: Jesus returns from Bethany to Jerusalem to Curse the Tree, Cleanse the Temple and Convey the Truth. He rallies His enemies in His last week of His earthly ministry!
Countdown to Calvary
The Final Week of Jesus’ Earthly Ministry
Mark 11:12-26 (NKJV)
12 Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. 13 And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 in response Jesus said to it, "Let no one eat fruit from you ever again." And His disciples heard it.
15 So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 16 And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple. 17 Then He taught, saying to them, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it a 'den of thieves.' " 18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it and sought how they might destroy Him; for they feared Him, because all the people were astonished at His teaching. 19 When evening had come, He went out of the city.
20 Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. 21 And Peter, remembering, said to Him, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away." 22 So Jesus answered and said to them, "Have faith in God. 23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. 25 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses."
Turn Out the Lights, the Party’s Over!
Jesus Cursed the Tree 12-14
His physical hunger 12; humanity
Jesus hunger revealed His humanity but it also revealed that He may have spent a great deal of time in prayer the night before and didn’t have time to eat prior to leaving Mary and Martha’s home in Bethany. This also a “teachable” moment for the disciples (and us) that religion in any denomination does not feed the soul thus the “cursing” of the fruitless fig tree which was a symbol of the fruitlessness of Judaism.
His agricultural knowledge13; sovereignty
In Hard Sayings of the Bible by F. F. Bruce:
Was it not unreasonable to curse the tree for being fruitless when, as Mark expressly says, "it was not the season for figs"? The problem is most satisfactorily cleared up in a discussion called "The Barren Fig Tree" published many years ago by W. M. Christie, a Church of Scotland minister in Palestine under the British mandatory regime. He pointed out first the time of year at which the incident is said to have occurred (if, as is probable, Jesus was crucified on April 6th, A.D. 30, the incident occurred during the first days of April). "Now," wrote Christie, "the facts connected with the fig tree are these. Toward the end of March the leaves begin to appear, and in about a week the foliage coating is complete. Coincident with [this], and sometimes even before, there appears quite a crop of small knobs, not the real figs, but a kind of early forerunner. They grown to the size of green almonds, in which condition they are eaten by peasants and others when hungry. When they come to their own indefinite maturity they drop off." These precursors of the true fig are called taqsh in Palestinian Arabic. Their appearance is a harbinger of the fully formed appearance of the true fig some six weeks later. So, as Mark says, the time for figs had not yet come. But if the leaves appear without any taqsh, that is a sign that there will be no figs. Since Jesus found "nothing but leaves" - leaves without any taqsh- he knew that "it was an absolutely hopeless, fruitless fig tree" and said as much. Source: http://www.rationalchristianity.net/fig_tree.html
One may first ask that if “the time of figs was not yet” then why did the master expect to see figs? Background study shows that the fig tree produces two types of figs: One, the early fig (also referred to as “winter” or “green” figs) called “paggim” which were a smaller fig produced on the strength of nutrients left in the branch during the winter, and the second was the full fig which was produced later after the leaves. So, ultimately, although it was not time for the “full” figs, if it had leaves it was communicating that it at least had early figs.