Sunday, June 15, 2014


     It's time to look at the New Testament and see what it has to offer in the way of weird and strange.  I was drawn to the story of Jesus killing the fig tree.  One of the first things that comes to mind is why Jesus would kill a fig tree by putting a curse on it.  After all, it's not like the fig tree can hurt Jesus or for that matter, anyone else.  And putting a curse on an object is sort of like witchcraft.  It just seems a little weird.

     As I stated in the last Sunday School lesson, we can find two different versions of just about every story in the bible.  And it's no different with the story of the fig tree.  Matthew and Mark cover the curse of the fig tree, but they have different accounts of how the fig tree murder goes down.  In both books we find that essentially the story goes like this; Jesus makes his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, goes to the temple, kick ass on the moneylenders, gets hungry, finds a fig tree and kills it.  Then he pontificates on having faith.  Both Matthew and Mark tell this story differently.  You would think that if the bible is the inerrant word of God, he could have at least made sure everything flowed and all the facts were right.

     In Matthew's version (Matthew 21) Jesus makes his grand entrance into Jerusalem and proceeds to the temple where he finds the moneylenders.  Jesus loses his temper and forgets about turning the other cheek and whips up on the moneylenders.  He then does what Jesus does best, he heals a few sick folk, and finds time to bitch out the priest.  It's been a long day for the Son of God so he and the disciples hot foot it to Bethany for the night.

     In the morning they start back to Jerusalem and Jesus is feeling a little peckish.  He sees a fig tree, but it doesn't have any fruit only leaves.  Jesus loses his cool again and curses the fig tree for not having any fruit for the Son of God to eat.  The fig tree withers right before the eyes of the disciples and understandably this act freaks out the disciples.  Twice in as many days they have witnessed the Prince of Peace losing his calm, loving demeanor.  He beats the moneylenders, trashes their stalls in the temple and then murders a fig tree. Tough couple of days for the Son of God.

Matthew 21:18-20  (NIV)

18 Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.

20 When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked.
     Jesus must have realized he was freaking out his boys, and probably needed to calm the situation down a little.  Towards this end he explains to the disciples that they too can kill fig trees if they just have a little faith; or they can throw mountains into the sea, either one.  Jesus says, "All you have to do is just believe."  Interesting two thousand years since the Jesus, on one else has killed a fig tree by wishing it to death or thrown a mountain into the sea.  Guess Christians don't have enough faith.
   Matthew 21:21-22
21 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
     We move on to Marks's version (Mark 11) of the killing of the fig tree.  As I've said incidents are arranged in a different order in Mark.  As in Matthew's version we have Jesus making his grand entrance into Jerusalem and with the disciples, he makes his way over to the temple.  In Mark, Jesus doesn't realize what time it is and gets to the temple after closing time.  Why doesn't Jesus know that the temple is closed? Shouldn't Jesus know that everybody who is anybody has already left the temple?  Can't beat moneylenders if they aren't there.  Since it's late in the day Jesus and the disciples decide to walk the two miles to Bethany for the night. 
     In the morning they start back to Jerusalem.  Jesus is hungry and looking for breakfast.  He sees a fig tree in the distance and walks over to see if it has any fruit.  The question comes up, why did Jesus need to go see if the tree had any fruit?  He is God incarnate.  In Matthew 10:30 God knows how many hairs are on your head.  Why doesn't he know the fig tree doesn't have any fruit? Oy Vey!!
     Mark tell us something important that Matthew leaves out.  The fig tree didn't have any fruit because it's not the season for the tree to bear fruit.  So in effect, Jesus throws a hissy fit because there is no fruit on the tree when there shouldn't be any fruit on the tree!  Jesus curses the fig tree, but the tree doesn't die instantly.  It seems Jesus's mojo takes a little longer to work on the tree.  Of course this does not bode well for the moneylenders.  Jesus is already pissed when he shows up at the temple.
Mark 11:12-17
12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry.13 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. 15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”
Mark 11:19-26
19 When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.20 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”
     What are we to make of the murdering of the fig tree?  I've read a few commentaries on this and some claim it's about the Jewish Nation not preforming up to standards.  They aren't accepting of Jesus and his ministry.  Or could it be a message to Christians?  If Christians aren't producing fruit (works) then it's time to rip them up by the roots.  So maybe they receive an allotment of time from God to produce or they get God Wacked.  Just a thought.  This bible story about the murder of the fig tree, is fucked up like a soupsandwich!