Disappointment — 2

Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.  (Mark 11:13-14).

This story is found only in Matthew and Mark and its lessons would be rather straight forward except for Mark’s cryptic little comment: “It was not the season for figs.”

Why expect figs on the tree if it wasn’t the season for figs?

After the fall harvest, Palestinian fig trees lose their leaves and begin to bear small buds that remain undeveloped until spring.  In the early spring, before leaves appear, these buds begin to develop into an immature fruit called “paggim.”  By the time the leaves appear again, the “paggim” is quite edible, but not yet a mature fig (see a reference to this “early fruit” in Song of Solomon 2:13). Thus the appearance of leaves on the fig tree proclaims the existence of fruit (however undeveloped).  If there is no “paggim,” there will be no figs on the tree that season.

Jesus has been acclaimed by joyous throngs all the way to Jerusalem, but once at the city, there is no reception at all.  The story of the fig tree presents another disappointment. After all Jesus has done, there ought to be at least a fledgling momentum of excitement anticipating the Kingdom.  There is not. Israel is fruitless and stands condemned.  So will the Church if she is unfruitful.  No matter how immature, the Church of Christ should always be producing the fruit of Christ.

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