I came across Mark 11:13-14 in my reading today,
Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.
My immediate thought was something bordering on fear because I applied the passage to myself – I must always be in season! I must always be baring fruit! God can come back and any time and what if I’m not helping build the Kingdom at that exact moment!
Now, all that is true in some regard. We are to be about the Master’s business and we are to be watchful for His return, which could be at any time. But what about sleep? Rest? Time to eat? Time for relationships? Time for fun? Time for reading? Time for education and learning? All of these could be considered taking away from the ideally direct tasks of the Great Commission, but, really? Withering a fig tree because it didn’t bare fruit out of season? Something doesn’t sound right to our sense of fairness and justice…
So, I did what I always do when I have questions about the bible: I googled it. After a quick (five second) google I found tektonics.org, which I respect. I read their article about the same passage, Did Jesus wrongly kill the fig tree? And it seems there is a much more immediate meaning to the passage. Give it a read, here’s an excerpt:
A common explanation that the fig tree in question had not produced the “pre-figs” (somewhat edible, very young figs) that it should have borne along with the leaves. Hence, it was barren and useless – and thus became a prophetic symbol and an object lesson: That which does not produce fruit will be cut down – just like a weed.
This is correct, but incomplete. Throughout the OT, and in the NT, the fig tree as a symbol is tied in with expectation — and withering is tied in with judgment…
Give it a read, and then pause, and calmly think on it.