WHY JESUS CURSED A TREE?
MATTHEW 21:18-22; LUKE 18:6-9
Fewer events in the life of Jesus are more confusing than the day he cursed the fig tree on the way into Jerusalem. The actual event is recorded in Matthew 21:18-22 and the parabolic illustration of the same is found in Luke 18:6-9. Let us take a look at these two passages of scripture and see if we can uncover the reason behind such a seemingly random act of brutality.
18 In the morning, as he was returning to the city he became hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.
20 When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” 21 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. 22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Matt 21.18-22
6 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ 8 And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. 9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’ ”
Jesus had come to Jerusalem for the dual purposes of redemption and judgment. The events we refer to as ‘Palm Sunday’ are actually events which took place on 3 separate days. The first day looked around and went home…he turned his back on the religious establishment. The second day is when he cursed the fig tree and cleansed the Temple. The third day was the day of controversy with the rulers of the Jews. ‘THE KINGDOM SHALL BE TAKEN AWAY FROM YOU AND GIVEN…NATION…FRUITS…’
CIT - Jesus cursing of the fig tree was a rejection of the nation of Israel for her failure to bear fruit which would satisfy the spiritual hunger of men’s souls.
THESIS – Jesus eagerly approaches us today, looking for evidence that we truly know him and that we are fulfilling our intended purpose.
S.O. - My passion is to see the evidence of the risen Christ in my own life and in the life of the Church universal so that we may be the food in fellowship that He needs and the world needs.
Let us make some observations about this most unusual event—the cursing of the fig tree.
I. LET US NOTICE FIRST THE HUNGER OF OUR LORD – Matthew 21:18a
“In the morning he was returning to the city, and he becamehungry.”
- He had spent the night at the home of Mary, Martha, Lazarus – Can’t imagine him leaving their home without something to eat.
- The journey from Bethany to Jerusalem was not a long distance – 2 miles
- His hunger was more than physical – Expectation of Spiritual food
Illustration – The AMA says the amount of time a human can live without food varies and depends on the amount of fat in the body and amount of food stored but most believe 9-10 weeks without food is the human limit.
APPLY – For man to get to the deepest hunger of his life he must look beyond the physical…we must spend time with Jesus, getting to know him. Matt. 4 –Man shall not live by bread alone…
|Amos 8:11||“ Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God, “ when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LordHUNGER ON DEEPER LEVEL|
II. LET US NOTICE SECONDLY THE TREE ITSELF
1. Fig tree represented Israel. I Kings 4.25 - And Judah and Israel lived in safety, from Dan even to Beersheba, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, all the days of Solomon.
Jer. 24.5 “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the exiles from Judah.
2. Leaves on tree were a promise of fruit
3. Jewish law said that first 3 years could not harvest, 4th year was for the Lord. Now we have at least 2 more years and NO FRUIT. Request for one more year of cultivating=7 complete.
APPLY- RELIGION HAD BEEN GIVEN ITS CHANCE – In parable in Luke Jesus this tree was not only unfruitful but was taking up vital space where God’s work could be done.
APPLY- Notice there was plenty of religious work being done it just wasn’t God’s true work. It is time for us to evaluate our connection with God…fruitfulness.
III. LET US NOTICE THE AUTHORITY OF THE OWNER OF THE GROVE OF TREES
1. HIS TREE
2. HIS GROVE
3. HIS SOIL
4. HIS PROPERTY
5. HIS EXPECTATION
IV. LET US NOTICE THE REASON FOR THE FAILURE
Here we have the tree—withered, blighted and now cursed…WHY? Something wrong at its core. Israel had had her chance but she chose the shadow instead of the light, the mercy drops rather than the showers…White-washed stones…dead men’s bones. Religion without faith. Looked like Life but DEAD…POWERLESS
The disciples amazed at the speed of the judgment – Please notice judgment will come on the earth much more quickly than any of us realizes.
1. Israel perished because they lost their relationship with God and so will we. We must find a way to connect with the living God. We must be rid of our LEAVES OF PRETENTION.
V. LET US NOTICE THE INTERCESSOR AND THE TIME GIVEN TO PRODUCE.
One more year and then…
1. Cultivating and fertilizing – painful process.
September 11, 2001 is a day which shall live in infamy. This was a day which will change the way we view life and live life. Shortly after the tragedy when 3000 souls were tragically and needlessly lost, the philosophical and theological pundits began to theorize as to why the people died. A similar experience occurred after Hurricane Katrina burst ashore on the Gulf coast of our Southern states. “Why did these people die?” Was God punishing them for America’s sin? If so, why were we spared and they taken? Was there some sin they had committed that we have been released from? Preachers and prophets, Psychics and psychologists weighed in. Everyone wanted to know WHY DID THEY DIE?
Jesus was faced with the same question when the disciples wanted to know about the Galileans whom Pilate killed while worshiping and the 18 who died when the tower at the pool of Siloam fell on them while they worked to build it. Jesus gave an answer that they did not expect and one which we might not either. The question is not, ‘why did they die, but rather why did we live’. Jesus cursed a tree that day as he entered Jerusalem. He wasn’t mad at the tree for not producing, nor was he unjust with the tree, since it wasn’t time for the full fruit. Rather, he looked at that lonely tree as representing a people who had failed to represent him, his character, his passion. He was the owner of Israel and he is the owner of you. He has a right to expect us to produce what we were intended to produce. Is he passing by you today? Is he observing your spiritual progress? Is he hungry for what you have produced for his kingdom? Is his heart satisfied?