Mark 11:12-14 says Jesus was hungry and when he went up to the fig tree it had only leaves but no fruit because “the time of the figs was not yet” so Jesus cursed it. It didn’t seem reasonable to me that Jesus would do such a thing. It is true that Hosea 9:10 likens Israel’s forefathers to a “ripe fig tree” and I understand about the restoration of Israel, but I was sure there was something more to this though I didn’t know what. That is until I took a closer look. In fact, I had to go all the way back to Adam and Eve.
In Genesis 3:7 after Adam and Eve sinned they saw for the first time they were naked. The glory of God that clothed them had lifted and they could clearly see themselves as they were. Their remedy was to cover themselves with fig leaves.
Next we need to look at the Song of Solomon 2:8-13. It is a picture of the Shepherd (Jesus) coming for his beloved (His bride, the believers) and tells her to rise up and come away with Him. He describes the time of His coming. The “winter has past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth and ripens her green figs, and the vines are in blossom and give forth their fragrance.” Then He again tells His bride to arise and come away with Him.
If we go back to Mark 11 and put all these things together a picture emerges. First Jesus was hungry. That word “hungry” in Greek is peinao and means famished. He goes to the fig tree, and that word “fig” is suzao and means to live in union with, together. So what this is saying is that Jesus was hungry for his people, hungry to live in union with them, to have once again that precious and beautiful relationship He enjoyed with Adam and Eve, restored, but it wasn’t time. There was no fruit for Him to enjoy, only the same fig leaves that Adam and Eve used to cover up their sins and pretend their relationship with God was not broken. But like the Shepherd in the Song of Solomon, he so yearned for His beloved bride to come away with Him, to recognize the day of her visitation. But it was not to be. Not yet, anyway. First there had to be the battering of His body, the shedding of His blood, His death and resurrection, and then the fig tree could bring forth its fruit.
In Mark 11 when the disciples later saw the cursed tree all withered they point it out to Jesus, and Jesus returns with a curious statement. “Have faith in God.” Then He goes on to talk about moving mountains and praying and forgiveness. There is so much here. Too much to cover in one blog, but part of what Jesus was telling His disciples was that yes, the fig tree is dead, its leaves unsuitable to cover sin, but God had an answer. He had a remedy all worked out, the blood sacrifice of Jesus. But also He was saying that God always has an answer, a remedy. Even when our problems are as big as mountains, our faith in God’s ability can move them. And yes, in a broader sense, the nation of Israel would be restored to Him. They, too, as His beloved, would, as a nation, bring forth fruit for Him to enjoy. There would come a day when they would recognized their Good Shepherd, their Messiah.
I see in Mark 11:12-14 the broken heart of God as He hungers to love and fellowship with His people. That hunger is still here today. How He desires that none should perish! He is that beautiful Shepherd who says to each of us “come away with Me.” The fig tree bears fruit, the time in now.
Until next time,