in Theology

Jesus Christ and the Fig Tree

This post concerns a curious bible story, found in the book of Mark:

Mark 11:12-14

12The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13Seeing 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. 14Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.

Mark 11:20-25

20In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”

22“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23“I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Christians tend to look at this story as a lesson in faith.  While verse 24 is quoted often as an example to live up to in faith, I think there is another way to read this story.  It is a retelling of the original downfall of mankind according to Genesis.  The key fact that makes it so is that the fig tree wasn’t in season, something the story points out explicitly.   Jesus cursed it for not bearing fruit when it supposed to have no fruit.  There was no way the fig tree could have behaved any differently.

This parallels nicely the story of man’s downfall in Genesis.  God created Adam and Eve and told them not to eat of the tree of knowledge.  But without the knowledge the tree provided, how were they to know that was wrong to disobey?  How would they know that it was wrong to indulge curiosity?  Their ignorance secured in their creation, they acted in the manner that they were created.  God was not pleased, and he cursed them.

Christians read the story of the downfall as a lesson in disobedience, but I must disagree.  The actions of god in this case are mirrored by the actions of jesus: a curse on his creation for the way he created them!

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  1. Oo, touché. So true though. Kind of like how I was taught that we were made in the image of God and saved from sin. But also, because I was a sinner, my very existence was offensive to God and I had to constantly repent, even if I hadn’t done anything sinful. I wasted so much time trying to feel guilty and trying to repent for nothing in particular.

  2. Lily, I couldn’t agree with you more. This was something that I felt as well, and it weighed heavily on me. I still have a hard time understanding how Christians deal with this.

  3. Very interesting. I had never looked at it in this manner. Cursing a creation for behaving the way it was designed…I do that every day when I find bugs in my code 😉

    What’s really funny is how closely the story parallels that of Pandora’s box wherein the gods INTENTIONALLY leveraged mankind’s inherent curiousty to deliver a curse upon them. (The unfortunate culprit in both tales is the woman who was created as man’s companion). And we’ve been blaming our woes on women ever since.