Jesus entered Jerusalem as their Messiah-King on the Sunday before the Passover. He entered on a donkey in fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah. He entered to the shouts of “Hosanna to the Son of David!” But did He come in, simply to display Himself as King? Or did He come in to exercise His authority as such?
Mark gives us some details in his account of those few important days of Jesus’ life that the others pass over. His detail concerning Jesus’ only destructive miracle, The Cursing of the Fig Tree, gives us some insight into the rest of His work in those few days leading up to the Cross.
Mark 11:12-21 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.” And His disciples heard it. 15 So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 16 And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple. 17 Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL NATIONS’ ? But you have made it a ‘DEN OF THIEVES.'” 18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it and sought how they might destroy Him; for they feared Him, because all the people were astonished at His teaching. 19 When evening had come, He went out of the city. 20 Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. 21 And Peter, remembering, said to Him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.”
Many people see this as nothing more than a shallow and petty event. Jesus got mad at a tree and vented on it. People have issues! Mark 11:13-14 “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.” And His disciples heard it.” Jesus did it for a reason. It was a lesson to His disciples. This imagery is used throughout the Bible. Jesus is giving the disciples an object lesson.
Luke 13:6-9 He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ 8 But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. 9 And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.'”
Matthew 3:8-10 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, 9 and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 10 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
And even in a positive sense as Jesus went from His Last Supper with the disciples out to the Garden of Gethsemane, explaining to them, John 15:5-6 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”
The Jews had plenty of opportunity to bear some fruit, as in the parable in Luke 13, but they did not. Jesus dug around them and fertilized them, but no fruit came, only greed and corruption. Jesus was looking for fruit. Jesus is still looking for fruit. The New Testament teems with this imagery. It is a sign of true faith and salvation:
Mark 4:20 But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”
Jesus did not die to make anyone religious. He did not dye so you could make a bear profession about some truths that are related to Him. He died to restore the image of God into His fallen and corrupted creatures. By faith, as we acknowledge His Person and His Work on the Cross, it needs to change us. Jesus is looking for fruit, fruit that is “worthy of repentance” as John the Baptist preached. How is your fig tree doing?
You can hear the audio of this message by clicking the link below.
Jesus Is Looking For Fruit – Mark 11:7-21