Fig Tree Results (Mk. 11:20-25)

Just enough time passes between seedtime and harvest for our humanity to forget our responsibility. We “planted” ideas, actions (time, talent), money (treasure) and when the corresponding harvest arrives, sometimes we feign surprise…especially if we want a different harvest.

CONTEXT. The context of Mark 11 is the Lordship and spiritual authority of Jesus Christ. Jesus begins with a beautifully puzzling paradox — He’s a king riding into the city on a brand new colt (vv. 1-11).  [Um, not very royal according to our standards today. Her Majesty belongs in a decked out carriage.]

Figs. Photo by Rezel Apacionado on Unsplash.

The day after the triumphal entry, while on a walk with the 12 disciples Jesus gets hungry and hopes to pull a fig from a fig tree they pass. Nope. Leaves say fruit, but the tree is barren. Jesus curses the fig tree. Key point: The disciples heard it. If we were together in person I might ask you to say these words, “teachable moment.” (vv. 12-14)

Thirteen men arrive at the Jerusalem temple and Jesus wrecks shop. Jesus cleanses the temple of money-changers and shut down the temple — no one could carry anything into the temple. Jesus establishes the Temple as a house of prayer for all, not a den of robbers. Even today the Lord’s church requires reminders of our identity and purpose. Administrators who benefit from the offensive swap-meet merchandising atmosphere hear Jesus’ rebuke and colluded to destroy Him. And when it was evening, Jesus and the 12 depart. (vv. 15-19)

Enter the withered fig tree. It is now the next morning, day two after the triumphal entry. The 12 recognize the obedience of the fig tree, now withered away to the roots. They express their shock and Jesus says, “HAVE FAITH IN GOD.” Even if Jesus told a mountain to uproot and dissolve into the sea, the mountain would have obeyed. DO NOT DOUBT. BELIEVE IN YOUR HEART. WHEN YOU BELIEVE, WHAT YOU SAY WILL COME TO PASS. 

How does the context of leadership, Lordship and spiritual authority meet us in Mark 11? PRAYER. Contrary to popular demonstrations, the Lord’s church does not deal in conjure and manipulation according to the limits and frailties of human strength. Jesus makes a beautiful point — link your belief with your prayer, and petition the Father… with a clean heart, free of offense. (vv. 20-26)

The Accursed Fig Tree by James Tissot.

Teachable moment now complete, Jesus and the 12 return to Jerusalem. There Jesus meets a challenge. By what authority does He let people honor Him as a king, cleanse a temple and establish the purpose of the temple? Jesus is not their priest and has no legacy within their ranks. Like John the Baptist, Jesus arrives with the backing of heaven and undeniable signs. Mark 11 ends with the exposure of ignorance and insincere hearts (ESV commentary, p. 1919). 

APPLICATION. As long as planet earth exists we have the benefit of seedtime and harvest (Gen. 8:22). It makes sense to gain understanding about the power of our words (Prov. 18:21) to bless and curse (Jam. 3:9), make flourish and make wither. Fig tree results are not about the “power” to curse a thing and it wither. Fig tree results show us the intent of relationship with the Father — ask Him, display our faith in Him, speak according to that faith, and watch what seems impossible yield to His authority.

Fig tree results are a natural way to show us how in Christ, we can live above the limits. We can know a relationship with the Father where we live absolutely convinced of His ability to love us, provide for us, provide through us, and make us witnesses in the earth. The possibilities are truly endless, if we will pray and dare to ask. Selah.

Shaunta D. Scroggins is the lead contributor for The Bereans’ Commentary.

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