Following the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, 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.” On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: `My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it `a den of robbers.'” Do you get the feeling that Jesus was having a bad day?
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!” “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered.
Doesn’t it seem unreasonable to curse a tree for being fruitless when, as the writer, of Mark told us it wasn’t the right season for figs? It is widely believed that Jesus was crucified on April 6th, A.D. 30. So, the incident of the fig tree would have occurred at the end of March or the first of April. Towards the end of March the leaves of the fig tree begin to appear. In about a week of the foliage appearing there appears a small crop of knobs on the tree. The knobs are not the figs. The knobs are a kind of forerunner for the figs. These knobs are called “Taqsh” by middle eastern people. The Taqsh is eatable and is eaten by many peasants. When the Taqsh comes to maturity it simply falls off the tree. The true fig appears six weeks later on that same tree. The Taqsh is a precursor for the fig. If the leaves of the fig tree appear without any Taqsh, that is a sign that there will not be any figs. Since Jesus found only leaves and no Taqsh, He knew that it was hopeless, and said as much to the tree.
A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard and went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard,
`For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ (Luke 13:6)
Both stories represent Jerusalem. Jerusalem was unresponsive to Jesus as he came into Jerusalem’s life. Therefore, Jerusalem is destroyed.
Now the message of the fig tree is our message. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.
Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”