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The Deceptive Fig Tree


Mark 11:12-25

This passage that was read, the story of the fig tree, is one of the most troubling passages in reference to Jesus that you will find.

And another reason it is troubling is because, not only does He seem angry, but He seems unjust in His anger, because Mark himself says in verse 13, ” it wasn’t the season for figs.”

So this is a troubling miracle. What is Jesus doing? What is His point? Is He just having a temper tantrum?

Well, any time you find a difficult passage and an event like this in the Bible, the thing to do is read what came before the event and what came after.

But before we look at those events lets first consider the tree.

Now, notice that Mark says that it was not the “season for figs.”

At any rate, from a distance Jesus spots it, it has leaves early, it is early in the morning and it is going to be a long day.

And so in verse 14 He curses the tree.

Now, you have this story of this deceptive looking, fruitless fig tree sandwiched in between the story of Jesus coming into Jerusalem…and His driving the money changers out of the temple.

Now the day before, Jesus came into Jerusalem on this little colt of a donkey.

And when He does all these people shout “Hosanna…Hosanna in the highest.”

But look what those same people do beginning in verse 15.

An adult male had to pay a temple tax to enter the temple.

If you came to offer a sacrifice, the temple officials would take your animal that you brought to sacrifice and they would find something wrong with it.

So in this one place where people should have been able to come and worship God, people were being fleeced and they were leaving saying, “If they will cheat me like that I am not coming back.”

Not only that, in verse 16, they had turned the court of the Gentiles into a short cut.

But the irony is, on the outside it looked good.

When it came to devotion to God…to honoring God…to worshipping God.

So what you have here is the account of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem…which looked so good…and this account of the temple…which on the outside looked so good.

And what this story of the fig tree is, it is called an “enacted parable”.

When it came to the nation of Israel, God was the planter and they were His special tree.

So God sent His prophets, His servants to work His field, and to prune His tree and to groom it.

So God sent His own Son to come and demand that His tree should bear fruit.

And that is what this story is saying.

  1. She is guilty of no production. She has not produced the fruit that God has asked of her.
  1. She is guilty of the crime of false profession.

John the Baptizer had predicted this day. Look at Matthew 3:7-10.

 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8  Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance; 9 and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 10 “And the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

When it came to pleasing God, they thought all they had to do was go to the temple 3 times a year.

But that isn’t what impresses God.

Because these people weren’t, God would destroy their nation.

Back to Mark 11.

Jesus’ actions in regard to this fig tree, shows what is going to befall the Jewish nation…and it also shows His utter disgust for people who practice religion without substance.

These Jews had forgotten who God was.

And that is the primary lesson for us today; If we do the same thing as a congregation of God’s people…or as individuals…He will do the same to us.

So look now at verse 20.

 And look at Jesus’ response.

Look at the character of this faith. Look at verses 22-23.

 Now, look what Jesus says next:  23 “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it shall be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted you.

And notice now the condition of faith. Vs. 25-26.

And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your transgressions.  26[“But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.”]

Jesus taught His disciples a very important lesson with this fig tree.

Today, there are a lot of churches where there is a lot of foliage.

Are we that way? Are you that way? If so, let’s repent.