It’s a Dog’s Fig’s Life

by Lester Young

“Man…that fig tree was just standing there, minding its business…” If you’re at all familiar with the Bible and Jesus’ exploits, you can probably guess just what fig tree I’m talking about. Be honest now, just between you and me, has that thought ever trickled through the recesses of your mind, tiptoeing around on the fire escape in the dark in the back somewhere? Did it seem the slightest bit cruel to you, if only for just a fleeting moment? Me, too. But then I shook myself back to the real reality, which is this: if there’s ever a question in my mind of good or bad, right or wrong, left or right, up or down, etc., and I don’t fully understand it, my starting point in trying to figure it out is always “God’s action (method, opinion, etc.) is the right one; and I, as a human being, am wrong (or at least missing some key component of data) [Romans 3:3-4].

Okay, with that foundational premise as my guide, I’m left with no other assumption to make here but that “the fig tree must’ve done somethin’ wrong.” Well, in a very real way, I guess it did. But, in order to see it, you need to be privy to one very important piece of information. When I found this out, the whole story made a lot more sense. You see, when the growth season starts, the average fruit tree will put out leaves, and then produce flower buds which will eventually grow into the actual fruit. Fig trees, however, are a little different. They produce their leaves and their fruit at the same time.

So then, armed with this priceless little nugget of wisdom, let’s consider the account given in Mark 11:13, which reads: “And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, [Jesus] came [to it], if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.” Knowing what we do now, it’s a lot easier to understand why the Lord even bothered to walk over to the tree in the first place, being fully aware that it was too early for figs to be growing. He saw the leaves – and leaves on a fig tree are (typically) a sure sign that figs are also on the fig tree. So, ready to eat, He bounced on over.

But we’ve also got to have some insight into Jesus’ overall mindset in order to understand the real motivation behind His actions in that circumstance. (Of course, we should be endeavoring to have that all the time anyway, since we’ve been given the mind of Christ [1 Corinthians 2:16].) Jesus walked in and fulfilled the old covenant (Matthew 3:15), while living in the new covenant (Matthew 12:28; Mark 1:14-15). So, He knew the blessings that were His according to Deuteronomy 28:1-13; He knew the favor that was His; He knew the provision that was His. He knew that He pleased God (Mark 1:11; John 8:29), and because of this, He knew that God had His back and would always give Him whatever He needed to get His appointed job done – and that included providing breakfast (Mark 11:12).

Goodness and mercy followed Jesus (Psalm 23:6); the blessings of God overtook Him regularly (Deuteronomy 28:2). Jesus was well aware of these perks, and He fully expected to continually experience them because He walked in obedience to the Father. So then, being hungry, and seeing the leaves on that tree as He passed by – even though it wasn’t yet time for figs to be growing (what, you think God can’t put figs on a tree before it’s time?) – Jesus undoubtedly thought, “Ah, another blessing overtaking Me; that looks like breakfast over there…thanks, Father!”

“Okay, that’s all well and good; but why did He have to curse the tree just because there weren’t any figs on it?” If you stop and consider the Scriptures for a moment, you’ll come to realize that the tree actually kinda cursed itself. In Genesis 12:3 it says, “I will bless them that bless you (or aid you on your way), and I will curse him that curses you (or hinders you in your way).” Obviously, that promise from God applies to objects as well as people. Again, Jesus intimately knew the Scriptures and the promises that belonged to Him. All He really did was verbally point out to the tree the inevitability of its fate – “No one will ever eat fruit from you again” (Mark 11:14) – speaking those words by faith, based on that promise of God recorded in Genesis 12:3. There really was no cruelty or spite to it, just a firm matter-of-factness. All in all, an unwise choice by Mr. Tree in not giving the Lord Jesus any food – after having blatantly advertised that it was open for business by displaying its leaves.

Jesus expected His Father’s blessings and favor to come His way. He expected the goodness of the Kingdom (Psalm 103:4) to surround Him wherever He went. Why wouldn’t He? Well, we have that very same Father and Kingdom, and that very same Jesus is our Lord, Savior and Shepherd. If we’re walking in obedience, we can and should be expecting that very same goodness, kindness and favor to surround us – all the time. After all, it’s been promised!

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4 Comments to “It’s a Dog’s Fig’s Life”

  1. You Rock. Two lesson here – the first paragraph, acknowledging God first, and KNOWING we need to back track if our human assumption does not pan out – so very important. If we don’t, as students of the Word, take the time to take care of that small sound of doubt in our minds we will flounder. Then rest – pure poetry. And yes, when we advertise that we are open for business and then don’t produce – well we are out of business. Thanks Lester, as always you are a great teacher.

  2. Sobering lesson to learn from the fig tree, and the great lesson of faith that Jesus taught when the tree withered from its roots. Thank you, for this enlightening post, Lester. Dee

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