Why did Jesus Curse the Fig Tree

In Matthew 21:18-19, we read about Jesus cursing the fig tree. Some people see this as something completely out of Christ’s character. Some use this story as proof that Jesus is nothing but a spoiled god while others are perplexed at the unusual behavior of our Savior.

However, reading through the surface of this story could lead to many misunderstandings and misconceptions. Thus, today, I invite you to go through this story on a deeper level and reveal the astounding meaning of the cursing of the fig tree!

The Mind-Boggling Story of the Cursed Fig Tree

I want to explore one of the most fascinating and perplexing stories in the Bible. This story has to do with our Savior Jesus (properly known as Yahshua) and this story has baffled many Bible readers and students. In fact, for so many people, the story doesn’t make sense to the point that atheists and skeptics use this story to show Christians that Yahshua is an illogical spoiled brat. It seems that in this story, what Yahshua did was out of His character.

Maybe, you’re now curious as to what story I’m referring to. Once I reveal this to you, you might also be curious as to why Christ acted that way and what could this story be telling or teaching us.

So, let’s go to the story, which is found in Matthew 21:18-19:

18 Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away.

Mark also recorded this story in Mark 11:12-14. This gives us more details:

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.”

Now, if you’re just going to read through the surface of this story, you might think it’s kind of weird. It doesn’t make sense? Let’s stop and consider this. Yahshua was expecting fruits from this tree. Remember, Mark wrote that it was not the season for figs. So, it seems that Yahshua’s action here is illogical. So, what is going on here?

However, if we are going deeper into the story of the cursing of the fig tree, we will uncover a hidden warning for all of us. This warning is so serious that it took Christ to destroy a fig tree just to make His point clear to everyone who has the eyes to see and the ears to hear.

Thus, I would like to invite you to join me in exploring this powerful and incredible story recorded in the Bible.

Why did Jesus curse the fig tree blog image
Why did Jesus curse the fig tree?

What is the fig tree?

So, first things first, we would like to answer the question, what is a fig tree? The fig is a member of the mulberry family (Moraceae) and it can grow as high as 20 feet or 6 meters. The Fig tree was originally found in Turkey and India and is now available in warmer countries. Fig fruits are so common that it is dubbed as the “poor man’s food.”

Figs boast a delightful, jam-like sweetness complemented by honey-nectar undertones. Their flavor profile can be likened to a fusion of strawberries, currants, dates, raspberries, cherries, raisins, brown sugar, or even honey. 

What is the fig tree in the Bible?

Now, one of the most interesting trees in the Bible is the fig tree. Let me just give you a quick rundown of how the Bible uses the fig tree.

The fig tree is the first tree mentioned in the Bible

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

Genesis 3:7

The fig tree is a symbol of peace, prosperity, and blessing

25 And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, each man under his vine and his fig tree, from Dan as far as Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.

1 Kings 4:25

But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree,
And no one shall make them afraid;
For the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.

Micah 4:4

19 Is the seed still in the barn? As yet the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have not yielded fruit. But from this day I will bless you.’ ”

Haggai 2:19

In that day,’ says the LORD of hosts,
‘Everyone will invite his neighbor
Under his vine and under his fig tree.’ ”

Zechariah 3:10

Fig tree as a symbol of God’s judgment

4 All the host of heaven shall be dissolved,
And the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll;
All their host shall fall down
As the leaf falls from the vine,
And as fruit falling from a fig tree.

Isaiah 34:4

13 “I will surely consume them,” says the LORD.
“No grapes shall be on the vine,
Nor figs on the fig tree,
And the leaf shall fade;
And the things I have given them shall pass away from them.” ’ ”

Jeremiah 8:13

7 He has laid waste My vine,
And ruined My fig tree;
He has stripped it bare and thrown it away;
Its branches are made white.
12 The vine has dried up,
And the fig tree has withered;
The pomegranate tree,
The palm tree also,
And the apple tree—
All the trees of the field are withered;
Surely joy has withered away from the sons of men.

Joel 1:7, 12

Fig fruit as a symbol of Israel

10 “I found Israel
Like grapes in the wilderness;
I saw your fathers
As the firstfruits on the fig tree in its first season.
But they went to Baal Peor,
And separated themselves to that shame;
They became an abomination like the thing they loved.

Hosea 9:10

17 thus says the LORD of hosts: Behold, I will send on them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and will make them like rotten figs that cannot be eaten, they are so bad.

Jeremiah 29:17

So, throughout the Hebrew writing, the fig tree symbolizes either God’s blessing or judgment. With that in mind, let’s now go back to the time of Yahshua cursing the fig tree.

Why did Jesus curse the fig tree?

Yahshua was hungry. He looked around and the fig tree caught his attention. Why? Because it has leaves. Now, this was around the time of Passover, a time when the fig trees were starting to develop fruits. What’s amazing about this particular fig tree is that it is an early bloomer. Mark specifically wrote that it wasn’t the season yet of the fig trees, yet, this particular fig tree already has leaves.

Jesus inspected the fig tree but it is all leaves without fruits

Now, here’s something you need to know about fig trees. Fig trees actually produce fruit first before their leaves. So, this tells us that if the fig tree already has leaves all over, it should already have fruits. Thus, Yahshua’s expectation was that this fig tree should already have fruits, yet, when He inspected it, it had none!

Remember, Israel was called first by God to become the role model for other nations for the entire world. In a way, they are the first bloomers. Yet, the nation of Israel as a whole didn’t produce the fruit God was looking for. So, the time of judgment has come.

Now, for any farmer, you know how important it is that your tree bears fruit. Before a tree bears fruit, you usually wait for months and even years. Now, how would you feel that when the time finally comes for your trees to bear fruit, you don’t see any fruit? That would surely be very disappointing.

So, as a farmer, what do you do? You cut down the tree, remove it, and replace it with a new one. The tree is basically useless in terms of farming because it doesn’t have fruits. Aside from that, during the time of Yahshua, it is said that every tree was taxed by the Roman government. Thus, a tree without a fruit is actually a liability to the farmer.

We must bear fruits

So, now, you have a better understanding of why Yahshua cursed the tree. However, there’s actually an important lesson that we must learn from this story. We must bear fruit because when we don’t bear fruit, we will be like the fig tree. We will be eventually destroyed and thrown out to the fire.

What’s amazing about the cursed fig tree is that it has leaves. In a way, this tree puts up a false advertisement. It perfectly illustrates the spiritual condition of Israel during the time of Yahshua. When you go to the temple at that time, you see how busy people were preparing for the spring festivals. The temple, with its beauty and grandeur, emits an aura of religiosity and spirituality. People were doing all the ceremonies and rituals based on the Old Covenant.

However, they are all for a show. God isn’t impressed with the outward appearance of religiosity. On the surface, Israel looked religious. They have the leaves of the fig tree. However, on the inside, they don’t have the fruits.

Are we all leaves with no fruit?

That’s what I want us to remember, brethren. Are we all leaves and no fruits? Could it be that we are just fooling ourselves and others? Could it be that we are in the church, but we are not in God? Could it be that we are public saints, but private sinners? Could it be that we are listening to sermonettes and sermons, but we don’t let them change our lives? Could it be that we are overly concerned with how we appear in the eyes of others rather than how we look in the eyes of God?

Because, brethren, it is possible that we are putting on a show. It’s one thing that we don’t have fruits, but what’s worse is that we pretend that we have fruits. Think about it, brethren: we might be budding leaves all over.

📌Learn more by reading, “3 Powerful Ways to Produce the Fruit of the Holy Spirit.”

Our leaves might look like being the supermom or superdad; our leaf could be looking like the perfect family; our leaf could be being able to tithe; our leaf could be fasting regularly; our leaf could be too quick to point out the faults of others; our leaf could be too busy in doing the work of God; our leaf could be worshiping in the Sabbath service, singing with a beautiful voice; our leaf could be giving great and inspiring message; our leaf could be posting bible verses or godly content on social media; our leaf could be our daily bible reading and bible study; the list just goes on and on.

However, brethren, all those are nothing and useless if you don’t have the fruits — meaning, you don’t let those things change your heart. Those things don’t actually make you closer to God. Those things don’t change your attitude and help you develop a godly character.

So, brethren, what are the leaves in your life that fool you into thinking that you have fruits? It’s time to examine ourselves and that includes me. Let’s do it now because the time will come when it will be too late. Judgment will come and just like the fig tree, no matter how big we are, no matter how many leaves we have, no matter how attractive we look, if we don’t have fruits, we will be destroyed and cursed.

Brethren, this message is not here to scare you, but to open your eyes to what truly matters in our lives. May we all bear fruits and be part of God’s future Kingdom!

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About the Author

Joshua Infantado is the founder of the Becoming Christians website and the Becoming Christians Academy, an online course. Since 2013, he has been writing Christian articles, and he launched his own YouTube channel. Joshua is deeply passionate about sharing the Word of God and supporting people in their Christian journey.

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