MSG - 12 As they left Bethany the next day, he was hungry. Off in the distance he saw a fig tree in full leaf. He came up to it expecting to find something for breakfast, but found nothing but fig leaves. (It wasn't yet the season for figs.) He addressed the tree: "No one is going to eat fruit from you again - ever!" And his disciples overheard him.
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Of coarse Jesus knew there were no figs, he knew Nathanael was under the fig tree John 1:47,48,49 "Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael said unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you. Nathanael answered and said unto him, Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel." It was such a miraculous observance that it caused Nathanael to believe! But the main reason for the cursing of the fig tree was for an example of that vengeance which hangs over the heads of hypocrites. Israel is always represented as the fig tree. Who only talks of good works, but none found; no fruits of grace and righteousness are to be found either. They only made a great show of religion (the fig leaf showing), while enjoying a great many privileges; being Gods chosen. But, this was to declare how much they displeased God, which have but an outward shew and appearance (leaves), but without (fruit). Immediately following this,Jesus entered the Temple and began his vengeance on the money changers and thieves. But there is more, as it also became an object lesson for His disciples in faith.Verses 21-23 "...Master, behold, the fig tree which you cursed is withered away. And Jesus answering said unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be you removed, and be you cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he says shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he says." Jesus never wasted time or opportunity!
In light of Philippians 2 where it states that Jesus emptied himself implies that while on His earthly mission He relied or the Father for everything, even life itself. Just like us He was human but the difference he was without sin and full of the Holy Spirit. So when Jesus asked," who touched me?", or says, " no one knows the day.", or knows not if a fig tree has fruit is because as these times it was the Father working on His own and thru Jesus also. " I am always working and my Father is always working..."
In my opinion, Jesus was constantly teaching His disciples through parables (e.g. earthly stories told in heavenly language) or He taught by examples. Being God in the flesh, surely He knew it was not the season for figs. To my understanding He was making an example of us being fruitless.......In other words all who are CHRISTIANS MUST BEAR GOOD FRUIT in every season! If not we will be destroyed.
My personal suggestion is quite different from others. Let us first consider the context. Jesus and the disciples are coming out from the town of Bethany the home town of Lazarus and the sisters, the beloved family. It is unthinkable that this family would let Jesus and the disciples go without breakfast. We learn now that Jesus alone is hungry, and not the disciples. This is understandable. Jesus is in the last week of His earthly ministry. And as it was His practice he had left the house early morning while it was still dark (1:35) to spend time with His Father in prayer. We can assume that Jesus was in this week everyday skipping breakfasts. But the one who could fast for forty days and nights and survived was annoyed by the unavailability of fig is not acceptable. First and foremost, this is against His declared character (Mt. 12:18-21). My suggestion is that today He was going to teach His disciples on the matter of having faith in God (v. 22). So today He announced in the hearing of the disciples that He was hungry. He saw a fig tree that was 'afar' from the road they were walking. He went to the tree and turned the leaves and disciples thought He was searching for figs. Now Jesus addresses the fig tree audible to the disciples, "Let no one eat fruit from you ever again" (v. 14). Peter declares that Jesus had "cursed" the tree (v. 21). This is the word that has led to many unfortunate interpretations. But it was solely Peter's opinion. As Jesus was turning the leaves of the tree, let us imagine, He was talking to the tree saying, I need your help because bad tree will not serve the purpose. You are good tree. You have green leaves good for ecology, you bear fruit in your season and you are not blocking to anyone's pathway. I have disciples who need demonstration of having faith in God. Now when I command you to be dried up, you have to obey. The tree must have said Let your will be done Lord, as Jesus had said later in the week, not my will but your will be done, to His Father. With this Jesus taught four lessons on the subject of having faith in God and they build upon one another. 1. If we have faith in God, we will pray with confidence (v. 24). 2. If we have faith in God and spend much time in prayer with God we will forgive others as God has forgiven us (v. 25). 3. If we have faith in God, have spend much time in prayers with God and have forgiven others, we will have Jesus' authority to command any situation, even the mountain to move, and they will obey (v. 23). 4. The climax of faith in God is to even sacrificing our own lives, as the fig tree did, as per the will of the Lord. So the question, Did Jesus not know that there was no fig in the tree? The answer is that Jesus knew that there was no fig. He did not need to have divine omniscient knowledge for this. This was a matter of general knowledge only. May the Christian believers have the same faith in God as Jesus expected His disciples to have.
In my opinion, in this context, Jesus was indirectly referring to Pharisees and Sadducees. If you follow these people, you will not bear fruits. They chose darkness rather than light. You have to consider cursing the fig tree is as a parable as well as a miracle. Jesus uses the fig tree to say that He doesn’t like people who give the appearance of Godliness but deny the fruit of Godliness. He declares that the open sinner is less guilty than he who professes to serve God, but who bears no fruit to His glory. Jesus knows very well when the fig tree will bear fruits. The fig tree was a symbolic representation of Israel; He was cursing the tree because it did not bear good fruits. The temple was destroyed in 40 years. Jesus gave them 40 years to repent to bear good fruits.
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