Do you ever read something and a short phrase jumps out at you and just gnaws away at your brain? That happens to me a lot. Today as I was doing my daily Bible reading it happened again. I was reading in Mark and the statement “It was not the season for figs” (Mark 11:13) captured my attention and wouldn’t let go, so I did some digging.
The context of the verse is that Jesus came to the fig tree looking for fruit but found none. It’s a symbolic judgment against the religious leaders of the day, in that they have the appearance of goodness but are lacking in what really matters. Mark points out that the fig tree had leaves but no fruit.
Typically this type of thing is easy for me to just take at face value, but the phrase “not the season for figs” really bothered me. Why would Jesus curse a tree if it was just doing what it was supposed to be doing, as in it wasn’t yet time for fruit to be there? Was Jesus being unreasonable?
Through a little bit of digging in some of my commentaries and resources I’ve come to this conclusion: When Jesus is present it’s time for action. The Jews of that day were not ready for Jesus and opposed his ministry. In the verses and chapter that follows this encounter with the fig tree, the religious leaders of the day are shown as being in conflict with Jesus. The fig tree is symbolic of them. They appear to righteous, but aren’t producing. They weren’t ready for the savior of the world to come. They wanted Jesus to act on their terms, but Jesus requires everyone to follow his plan.
All in all, Mark 11:13 probably isn’t the most controversial verse in the Bible, but for some reason I had to check it out deeper. This is why I love the Bible. Almost every time I read it God shows something new to me.
What’s a verse that’s bothered you lately?
Fig tree image courtesy of flickr user BigBlackBox