The mystery of the fig tree

Figs are fruits mentioned in the Bible that are still familiar today, whether they are soft, juicy, fresh figs or the sweet, chewy, dried variety. Fig trees are a common sight on the biblical landscape and often symbolized safety and prosperity.1

And then there’s the time that Jesus was leaving the small town of Bethany and noticed a fig tree. He was hungry and rummaged through the leaves, looking for fruit. There was none, so He cursed the tree: “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.”2 Immediately, the tree withered.

It seems a rather tough judgment on the tree, and quite unlike the parable He told about another fig tree that was given a total of four years to prove itself.3 We don’t know all of the reasons why Jesus issued such a sudden and irrevocable judgment, just as Jesus’ contemporaries didn’t know why 18 men were killed by a falling tower in what seemed a random disaster.4

It’s tough when disaster strikes in our own life. We lose a loved one, our health, our job, a relationship, and we try to figure it out. Perhaps someone gives us a book giving “Reasons for Sickness” or advertising “11 Steps to Healing.” But “figuring it out” doesn’t always seem to be part of God’s plan. He doesn’t always let us in on what He’s thinking; sometimes He expects us to “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.”5

God may not always give us explanations, but He promises to always give us Himself. “Fear not, for I am with you,” He tells us.6 “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”7

  1. See Deuteronomy 8:8–9; 1 Kings 4:25.
  2. Matthew 21:18–20
  3. See Luke 13:6–9.
  4. See Luke 13:4.
  5. Proverbs 3:5.
  6. Isaiah 43:5
  7. Deuteronomy 31:8 NLT