Why did Jesus curse the fig tree?

"You tell'em Lego Jesus"

ReferenceMark 11:12-14

Question:
Was the cursing of the fig tree on the way to the anger exhibited in the temple throwing out the money changers a foreshadowing? Or a reference to Christ’s human frustration?

Answer:
The incident in Mark with Jesus and the fig tree has everything to do with the nation of Israel.  The fig tree, like the vineyard, was a common analogy for the nation of Israel.  Upon Jesus arrival in Jerusalem and at the Temple he encountered a sight that he despised, and it’s not what you think…

The anger that Jesus showed toward the fig tree, and the anger that he showed when he overturned the tables in the Temple area was a result of what the nation of Israel had become… exclusive.  In other words, it was a place of ethnic hierarchy and separation.  In the  verses following the curse of the fig tree Jesus says “it is written, ‘my house will be a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves” (Mark 11:17).  Jesus here is not expressing his frustration with buying and selling in the temple area, he is expressing his frustration that gentiles have been excluded from the Temple.

The Temple was THE place where worship of God happened in the Jewish faith.  But only Jews could go in, and only Jewish men could go into the inner courts.  This grieved God who had longed for it to be a place for all people to come to him.  Even when it was dedicated by King Solomon himself it was meant for all people (2 Chronicles 6:32-33).

Israel had failed to be the blessing to the nations God had created them to be (Genesis 12:1-3).  But now Jesus would be the one to take that promise and fulfill it.  Later in Mark 11, after they had left the Temple, Peter noticed that the fig tree that Jesus had cursed was now dead and withered.  Jesus answers Have faith in God. 23 I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.”  Contrary to the obvious this is not a verse about being able to do all things if we have faith.  The context suggests that it is much more specific.  Jesus is still talking about the Temple.  Notice that he says, “you can say to THIS mountain”.  He is talking about a specific mountain, the Temple mount.  Jesus is suggesting to his disciples that if they place their faith in God that the Temple will become obsolete.  In otherwords, Jesus will take the place of the Temple.  No longer will they need to go to the Temple to worship and be near God.  Instead, ALL people will be able to go to Jesus.

The fig tree is withered – Jesus has replaced Israel as the blessing; the mountain will be removed – Jesus has preplaced the Temple as the place of sacrifice and worship for ALL people.  In 70 A.D. the temple actually was destroyed as Jesus predicted (Mark 13:1-2, see other posts about the Temple).

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