Answers for a Jew
What is the meaning of the cursed fig tree? (beginning)
Question: Why did Jesus curse the fig tree which had no fruit?
Answer: Let's read the text in the Gospel of Matthew: «Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive» (Mt 21:18-22; compare Mk 11:12-14, 11:20-26).
Mark writes that «it was not the season for figs» (Mk 11:13) – it was right before the Jewish Passover. This needs explanation. In Palestine, fig trees yield their first fruit in the beginning (or middle) of spring. Those are small figs, also called "early figs" (heb. "paggim", see Song 2:13 [green figs]). These figs may not be very juicy, but they are edible. However, it will not be until May-June when the "delicious" figs ripen. So, technically, one could find some edible fruit on fig trees around Passover, although it was not the right season for figs.
Seeing the fig tree wither, the Apostles were amazed at the miracle, and Jesus explained to them that if they had strong faith, they could do even greater miracles. The second meaning of the miracle on the fruitless fig tree is explained in the following parable of Jesus:
«He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down» (Lk 13:6-9).
(to be continued)