consider this: irrational Jesus?

Here is an event in the life of Jesus to consider for the weekend. What do you make of Jesus’ actions here?


The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 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. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.


In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”


“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”


Mark 11:12-14; 20-25


What in the world do we make of this scene?! Is Jesus really being so irrational as to expect fruit out of season? Shouldn’t he have known it wasn’t the season for figs?

This is one of those passages that feels like there is a lot going on beneath the surface, that there must be more than what meets the eye. But what is it? What is going on here? It sort of feels like this action flies in the face of the whole concept of grace.

Why would Jesus curse the fig tree? Has he lost his temper or is this a calculated move?

Don’t forget that in between when Jesus curses the fig tree and when the disciples see it as withered is the event of Jesus clearing the temple (Mark 11:15-19). Could this event be connected to the temple clearing?

It seems reasonable to assume that there is a deeper message here, that Jesus is trying to do more than just put an un-producing tree in its place. But what is he doing? What is the lesson?

What do you think? Consider the words, the actions, the message in this event. Share your questions, your thoughts, or your ideas.

Is there some deeper lesson? Or is Jesus just being unreasonable here?


8 thoughts on “consider this: irrational Jesus?

  1. The beginning of the chapter tells about Jesus riding into town on the colt, and the people were saying hosanna. The human part of him, Son of man, was trouble in his spirit because he sense something didn’t line of with action shown for those same people would also sa.
    y crucify him.
    The God part of him was not trouble because that part of him already knew this was coming. I guess you can say this was a pre garden of Gastemene experience.

  2. Jimmy, good point bringing up the events taking place before this (namely the triumphal entry). I forgot to mention that part of the context. Very important.

    It sounds to me like you are saying that this is a case of Jesus’ human side losing his temper a bit. Do I understand that right?

    I don’t necessarily disagree with you, however I do wonder about separating Jesus’ human side from his divine side. If he is fully human and fully divine can we really separate the two?

    I don’t know if what I’m saying makes sense. Let me know your thoughts. Also, even though I don’t contest the idea that Jesus may have lost his temper here, I am still considering what his message or point may have been.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  3. the fig tree represents a symbol for israel in that time. christ came and found no fruit in it. therefore he cursed the nation and judged it for its unbelief. the judgement is still over their heads today. the apostles i think understood this demonstrative parable. its even easier for us to see the whole picture especially when the scriptures point to Him cleaning the temple, a strong and valid connection to cursing the fig tree. thanks.

    • Do you think it only represents a symbol for Israel in that time, or could it also represent something more? Maybe something more universal to humanity?

      What do we make of the fact that the fruit wasn’t even in season? Mark goes out of his way to make this point in the text. I’m not sure how that relates to the Temple cleansing.

      Also, is this, and the Temple cleansing, all about judgment? I’m not sure that’s the whole message.

      Thanks for yor thoughts.

      • Yeah, I think we should take the example universally in the sense that anyone of us can be like that tree and have no fruit visible out of season.Everything has its time. Paul exhorts Timothy in 2 Tim 4:2 to ” preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” Preaching the word and living it faithfully I believe is the key to being ready whenever for the appearing of Jesus Christ. We must note also that when Jesus saw the tree from a distance it was in leaf, meaning that it appeared as to have anything good in it. It is a strong resemblence to the apostate pharisees which appeared righteous on the outside from a distance but rotten on the inside and up close. That same apostasy is visible today in many “preachers” and groups of people. They appear good but they’re not. Sure, the cleaning of the temple is a pre glimpse of judgement. This is where I believe firstly the tree represents Israel. In Matthew 21 we have the same account but with some parables after the temple cleansing where He curses the pharisees for rejecting Him even after knowing that the Scriptures speak of Him. So the problem lies not with the unknowing but with the knowledgeable ones. The ones that claim they know God and speak for Him. They will receive a greater damnation that the ones who dont know. In Luke 19:42 following the same account Jesus before entering the city after cursing the tree, wept for the city saying ““If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. 43 “For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, 44 and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”
        So there is a strong connection between the tree and the nation Israel’s doom in that time because as we know it, it not only remained in unbelief, but was leveled to the ground shortly after Jesus rose to Heaven. Thanks.

        • Good comments on the expectation that we bear fruit and the idea that we are always “in season” so to speak. I agree with your thoughts here on the expectation of appearances being what’s true internally.

          I’m not sure I see it the same way as far as your thoughts on this being about judgment. Here are a couple of my thoughts, if you are interested.

          I think at the very least it has to be about more than just judgment, especially when you consider the same event in Matthew 21. There when the disciples note the withered fig tree Jesus explains to them that if they have faith and ask they will recieve what they ask for. So their is another lesson here, but not a lesson on prayer (I don’t think), but more a lesson on authority. In fact the next conversation Jesus has is about authority (21:23-27) I think Jesus is (at least in part) displaying his authority even over the created world and implying that we also can, as his followers, have similar authority.

          In fact, I also see the clearing of the Temple as a statement of authority and a warning more than judgment. Judgment implies that sentences are being handed out, that closure is happening and things are finalized (at least to me). What we see Jesus doing is showing authority over his Father’s house and warning those who are treating it in corrupt ways that they need to change. No one is judged, but instead they are disciplined. I believe the difference between these two (judgement and discipline) are really critical and important.

          Even the parable that follows in Matthew 21 (about the vineyard) does have elements of judgment in them (and those are more final!) but to me it’s still more about authority than judgment.

          I hope you understand, I’m not trying to argue symantecs or criticize your view of what’s happening in Mark and Matthew, I’m just looking to consider it further. Hoepfully my thoughts are communicated clearly. Thanks for sharing your views and considering this.

  4. Jesus never lost his mind. He certainly showed uprooted temper in the temple. That’s only a fraction of what he’s going to show on judgement day. Thanks

  5. I understand where you can see that He is displaying His authority and I dont contest that. I hope you do understand also that Judgement does not necessarily mean that sentences are being handed or closure point, but rather look at John 3:18

    “He that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God”

    The pharisees were being judged already as well as Israel. His display of authority which I agree with altogether was an act to show them they are being judged. We know that his actions were not his final sentences. But we also know that they were condemned already for not believing in Him for who He was. God was trying to show the pharisees all throughout Christ’s ministry of 3 years, that He is judging them and they better repent. Judgement in a sense is continuous for unbelievers, until the final judgement which is eternal fire, but at the moment their unbelief bring continuous judgement upon them. I hope that makes sense. Even in Revelations we have judgements handed out to earth and its inhabitants and yet they still have time to repent, until the final judgement. Thanx

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