It’s a short three verses but I’ve always like the story of the fig tree that did not have fruit on it when Jesus wanted a snack, and the tree wasn’t even supposed to have fruit during that time of year! On the surface it seems like Jesus is abusing his power a bit, as if he is irritated that the tree didn’t satisfy him so he just cursed it so it would never produce again.
Mark isn’t trying to tell his audience that Jesus was angered at not having figs to eat — this would be very strange, given that he would have known that it was far too early in the year for that. Instead, Jesus is making a larger point about Jewish religious traditions. Specifically: it was not the time for Jewish leaders to “bear fruit,” and therefore they would be cursed by God never to bear any fruit ever again.
Thus, instead of merely cursing and killing a lowly fig tree, Jesus is saying that Judaism itself is cursed and will die off — “dry up at the roots,” as a later passage explains when the disciples see the tree the next day.
This blog was originally written by Pastor Doug Bartel of Hillcrest Church, starting in Spring 2009. Keep that in mind if you read anything that doesn't quite add up to the time of year.