Did Jesus just have a grouchy morning when He cursed the fig tree? (Mark 11:12-14; Matthew 21:18-22)
It wasn't even the season for figs, so was it really the tree's fault?
David Landegent, an RCA pastor in South Dakota, writes in the Sunday School Guide* (August 12, 2012) about it.
Jesus is acting out judgment on Jerusalem, just like Ezekiel in chapter 4.
Jeremiah 8:13: “I will surely consume them,” says the LORD. “No grapes shall be on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree, and the leaf shall fade; and the things I have given them shall pass away from them.” ’ ”
Hosea 9:15-16: "Because of the evil of their deeds
I will drive them from My house;
I will love them no more.
All their princes are rebellious.
16 Ephraim is stricken,
Their root is dried up;
They shall bear no fruit."
Mark puts the episode right after the cleansing of the temple, which fits with Hosea 9
This story doesn't fit our sensibilities because we don't like to think of Jesus as cursing and withering anything.
But He certainly does.
Jesus came to destroy the work of the devil, and that work is evident in our lives in every sin. He came to judge, curse, wither and destroy every evil thought in your heart. Landegent: "A lot of people think Jesus came to help us be a little nicer, a little kinder. You were OK before and now you can be more OK. But that's not it at all. Jesus came to put the old sinful self to death so that the new can spring up.... You can only be spiritually fruitful when the old sinful self withers away like the fig tree in Jesus' miracle."
This also connects with the next passage. "Whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them" (Mk 11:23–24).
Not only would the temple be cleansed, but it would be trashed later, because it refused to be cleansed. We need to have an unwavering faith that God will remove our trash and establish us in Christ. We need single-hearted desire to remove the trash, and not hang on to junk that Jesus wants to wither and remove.
* The Sunday School Guide is a small, independent, RCA-based newsletter. David Landegent is the main editor. As far as I can tell they have no online presence. You can write me for contact info, or a copy of this article.