And in the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.
There is an old legend about a great teacher who was walking through an orchard on a windy day. The teacher came to a fence which divided the grove from an adjoining forest and he imagined that he could hear the trees talking to each other. The maple trees taunted a group of nearby fruit trees, "Why don't your leaves rustle in the breeze like ours so that you could be heard from a distance?"
"We don't need such useless fluttering to draw attention to our presence," was the reply. "Our fruit speaks for us!"
The story of Jesus cursing the fig tree is a story of fruit and faith. As our Lord approached the cross during the Passion Week, many outstanding events took place. On Palm Sunday He triumphantly entered the city of Jerusalem, but he retired to the house of His friends in Bethany that evening. On the morrow He made His way back to the city of Jerusalem early in the morning. He was eager to be about His father's business and did not want to disappoint the people who would come early to hear Him teach in the Temple. Because He had risen early and left Bethany before the breakfast hour, Jesus and His disciples were hungry. On the way He spied a fig tree in full bloom.
The fig tree is unique in that the fruit appears on the tree before it comes to full bloom. Figs generally appear in February, followed by leaves later in the spring. Thus when Jesus saw the tree in full bloom, He had every right to expect that there would be figs which He and the disciples could use for temporary sustenance. When He arrived at the tree, however, even though the tree was in full bloom, it was barren of fruit. Jesus cursed the tree saying, "No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever" (Mark 11:14).
When Jesus and the disciples returned in the morning to the site of the fig tree, they saw that the tree had dried up from its roots (Mark 11:20). The disciples were astonished at how rapidly the cursed tree had begun to disintegrate. When Peter called this phenomenon to the Master's attention, Jesus said, "Have faith in God." The cursing of the fruitless fig tree was done deliberately to teach the lesson-"Have faith in God." Jesus continued to illustrate this when He said, "For verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass he shall have whatsoever he saith" (Mark 11:23).
Some years ago a group of botanists went on an expedition to a remote part of the Alps. They were searching for new varieties of flowers. One day they saw a beautiful rare species growing at the extreme bottom of a deep ravine. It was almost impossible to get at. Someone would have to be lowered into the gorge to retrieve the rare flower. The botanist noticed a local Swiss boy standing nearby and asked him if he would get the flower. A rope would be tied around his waist and the men would lower him to the floor of the canyon. The young boy peered thoughtfully into the chasm. "Wait," he said, "I'll be right back." The lad dashed off. When he returned he was accompanied by an older man. The boy said to the scientists, "I'll go over the cliff now and get the flower for you but this man must hold the rope. He's my dad."
Fruit and faith go hand in hand. The incident of Jesus' cursing of the fig tree illustrates this beautifully. If we are to bear fruit, we must have faith in the one who holds our hand. Whatever the task given to us, we will be only as successful in completing it as our faith in the Father will permit.
I would be true, for there are those who trust me
I would be pure, for there are those who care.
I would be strong for there is much to suffer;
I would be brave, for there is much to dare.