The incident with the fig tree which is recorded by Mark leaves the readers in total confusion as it subverts the magnificent power of Jesus Christ in three ways. Firstly, Jesus who denied an offer from Satan to turn a stone into bread to fill his stomach is looking for figs to suffice his hunger. Secondly, He was looking for figs when they were not in season. Thirdly, out of frustration, our Saviour, who forgave all who crucified Him, cursed the fig tree for not bearing figs.
If we ponder on this, we realize that Jesus was trying to convey a deeper meaning to His disciples. But Peter marveled at the withering of the fig tree instead of looking at it in a deeper sense. Oftentimes, we too are amazed by the outcome of God’s power, exhibited at a larger level in crusades, and miss out on the essence of it.
Jesus was hungry
If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it. – Psalm 50:12
Jesus fed 5000 people because of the compassion and care He had for them and not because He himself was hungry. There was no need for Jesus to go searching for figs but one word and the figs would have fallen on his feet. Jesus is using this to teach the believers that the food that Jesus wants is doing the will of His Father.
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. – John 4:34
Jesus was looking for figs in non-season
This implicates the seasonal believers. During the holiday season, they come closer to God and during the off-season, they will relax. Similar is the case with Sunday worshipers. On Sunday they will not do anything against the will of God but during weekdays they will be one with the world. They will exchange curses with a cab driver just to prove that they are on par with them. Their deeds in their offices will be unjust. They will justify their deeds by saying. “When in Rome do as Romans do”. Old sayings and famous quotes more often than not, always contradict the word of God.
But Jesus is expecting fruits from our lives at all times. In our sickness, weakness, poverty, and richness. Often in our sickness, we are unable to glorify God. When others share their life’s struggle, we say that we are also the suffering. We claim that we are one among them and that there is no difference in the life of a believer and a non-believer. We fail to manifest the work of God in our life.
The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you, they are full of the Spirit and life. – John 6:63
We are unable to acknowledge God’s wonderful gift given to us through His son Jesus Christ, “the eternal life”. Peter boldly acknowledges this wonderful gift.
“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” – John 6:68-69
If we have this firm belief in us then we can also glorify God in all situation.
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior” – Habakkuk 3:17-18
Also, this portion of scripture tells us that the fig tree was full of luscious leaves yet there were no fruits. In a fig tree, leaves and buds come up simultaneously. But here the tree is bearing only leaves. This symbolizes the behavior of hypocrites. Being piety in the eyes of others and missing out on the real fruits.
Jesus cursed a fig tree and the tree withered
It is a stern reminder of God’s wrath on believers who continually refuse to do God’s will. When God wants to fulfill His will through our lives, He will provide His strength and power to manifest His glory to this world. We should understand that we are mere instruments in His mighty hands. It is not by our wit or might but by His grace through our faith.
When Peter marveled on the withering of the fig tree, “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. We may have faith in our healing and blessing but when it comes to God’s work we depend on our own ability, qualification, social standing, and personality. God wants us to put our trust in Him and to obey Him in fulfilling the will of God.
“The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:24
One can not deny that the Holy Spirit has prompted us many times and in many ways to glorify His name among our colleagues and neighbors. We might have denied all His callings and missed all the opportunities that have come our way. But God is still looking forward to you to place you in his vineyard. Are you willing to accept His calling? You can come to Him just as you are and the rest He will take care of.