Why did Jesus curse the fig tree?

I have been wondering why Jesus cursed the fig tree (Matthew 21:18-22). Apparently, I have so far been interpreting it literally.

The fact is that Jesus was hungry. He had a desire and when his desire was not fulfilled, he kind of acted impulsively and retaliated.
And if we follow the events as narrated by Matthew, Jesus had been furious the previous night (Matthew 21:12-17) and when he got up the next morning and could not satisfy his desire, he decided to show his wrath again.

For me, this kind of shows his human nature. If we look at the society today, we have desires and often times, we try to fulfill those desires at all cost and we do sometimes react impulsively when our desires are not fulfilled.

Another thing I haven’t really understood why Jesus did it was when he cast out the demons from Mob (Luke 8:26-39). The demons begged Jesus not to send them into the abyss. Jesus kind of accepted their request and sent them into the herd of pigs. Strangely, the whole herd of pigs rushed into the lake and drowned. What happened to the demons then? What was the need of sending them into the pigs in the first place only for them to go and drown?

Also, regarding the event at the temple, why did Jesus not go and tell the people peacefully that the shouldn’t be selling in the house of God? Why the use of force when there were diplomatic options?

Please don’t get me wrong, I am asking these questions in this manner in order to get a deep understanding of the attitude of Jesus and the actual lessons to be learned from these events.



This question has been asked before and answered in this recent CAF thread.

Essentially, the tree represents the members of the Old Covenant, who, despite appearances that they are a fruitful tree, yield nothing. Christ curses the tree by the same analogy.

Disclaimer: I am not a theologian. The following is my personal take only.
I speak under correction from anyone with real knowledge.

Concerning the money-changers; what makes you think “diplomatic options” were available?
If the priests who ran the Temple weren’t objecting to the money-changers and the dove-sellers, how was Christ going to peacefully convince them to leave?
In fact, I’ve read in more than one source that the money-changers were part of a corrupt practice by which the Temple administration made great profits.
People had to use the Temple shekel to pay for sacrificial animals, and only the money-changers could provide the Temple shekel in exchange for other currencies, at outrageous exchange rates.

I think the fig tree represents the chief priest and elders who are being striped from bearing fruit. It also teachs the new fruit is rooted in faith (not position) Read down the page alittle.

The pigs were unclean animals of no value yet they found the demons to great to bear, such was that man’s torment before he found god.

The money changers were profiting from the sins of others, and doing so in the temple, thus the human anger of Jesus

Notice the relationship between the fig tree and the money changers? The money changers could say “Hey construction worker, you owe God a dove yet you have no dove. For a price I shall sell you the dove you owe.” Yet at the fig tree it is taught the construction worker needs faith not a dove.

These are of course only my opinions.

The fig tree represented Israel (Judaism). Neither was producing fruit, so our Lord`s cursing of the tree was a way of foretelling the fate of the House of Israel which rejected Him.
In one spot, our Lord says: “The kingdom of Heaven will be taken away from you, and given to a people who will bear fruit.”.

What happened in the temple is tied in with that. Instead of being used to teach Truth, it was being used as a money making racket by the extortionist money changers. Desecration.


The fig tree is a type of Israel, the tree should have had friut when Christ passed it but it did not. Likewise, the childern of Israel should have bore fruit, but they did not. Thus in cursing the fig tree, Christ judges the O.T. kingdom,

(Mat 21:21) And Jesus answering, said to them: Amen, I say to you, if you shall have faith and stagger not, not only this of the fig tree shall you do, but also if you shall say to this mountain, Take up and cast thyself into the sea, it shall be done.

This verse here, will be seen later in the Apocoylpse of John

And the second angel sounded the trumpet: and as it were a great mountain, burning with fire, was cast into the sea, and the third part of the sea became blood:

Hope this helps

It was principally one of the sign-acts that Jesus performed during His last week in Jerusalem. The purpose of it, as one poster has already said, was a symbolic judgment, in the form of a sing act, against Israel for failing to produce fruit. This is a typical prophetic way of communicating a message, and the OT prophets did very similar things. Jeremiah smashed pots, Hosea married a prostitute, and Ezekiel cooked his food over cow dung. Jesus is acting in a very similar manner during His last week. In fact, we are probably meant to identify at least two sign acts during the last week that pronounced judgment on Israel, and the Temple as well: the fig tree and the temple incident.

Mark was clever enough to clue us in as to what was going on though a unique method most often called a “sandwhich” and less often called an “inclusio”. Mark, unlike Matthew and Luke, has bracketed what happens in the Temple within the fig tree parable. Mark does this technique several times in his gospel where he will bracket off a story with two other stories that should be interpreted in a like manner. Actually, all of the gospel writers will do this (as will other ancient writers). The sequence in Mark looks like this:

Ride into Jerusalem
Curse the fig tree
Crash the Temple
Explain the fig tree
Authority is questioned

Jesus’ explanation of the fig tree makes it clear that this is a symbolic act of judgment:

“Mark 11:21…Master, look! The fig tree which you cursed has withered.” 11.22And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 11.24Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 11.25And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any one; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

Keep in mind this is all taking place on the Mount of Olives just outside Jerusalem. When Jesus says “THIS mountain”, there are only two mountains within sight - the temple mount and the mount of Olives. Given that the Temple in Judaism at that time was the place where all sacrifices occured, and so where forgiveness and atonement were accomplished, it’s clear that Jesus must be talking about the Temple mount here as the mount being “cast into the sea” because Jesus has to explain to them how forgiveness would work without the mountain in place. The explanation of the fig tree parable is the saying about casting the mountain into the sea. Further in Mark, the Temple incident is clearly to be interpreted in light of the fig tree parable and the ‘mountain tossing’ saying.

I don’t think Jesus’ Temple actions were a Temple cleansing. For one, actual Temple cleansings took days on end to complete (see the Maccabee cleansing and the cleansing of King Hezekiah) and various other ceremonious aspects were completed as well. For another, Jesus was talking about building some sort of New Temple. So Jesus wasn’t trying to cleanse the Temple; no, He seemed to be planning on tearing that one down and building another. The actions of crashing the tables is part of this short sequence of sign-acts and judgment oracles against the Temple in particular.

The Chief Priests and elders seem to understand clearly what is happening because in the next breath we find them confronting Jesus and asking, “by what authority do you do these things and who gave you that authority”? Jesus is acting like he thinks he’s some sort of prophet with these judgment actions. He’s acting like He thinks He’s some sort of king with talk about temple destruction and building a newer one. This is probably what leads to the Jerusalem establishment finally deciding to arrest Jesus. Jesus is acting like a prophet and a messiah. He’s doing all of this during a very volatile time - the Passover Feast. The crowds are on His side at this point as well. With Passover itself only a few days away, the leaders are afraid Jesus is about to get the crowd whipped into a frenzy of messianic excitement and start a revolt. So, they decide to quietly bring Him in during the night and dispose of Him. All of this has made Jesus appear to be a dangerous figure.

In light of all of this, Caiaphas’ question seems pretty natural: “Are you the Messsiah”?

So let me ask this, I agree with the explanations here. However, since it also appeared he was teaching them about faith in God and in Him, is it acceptable to teach us to walk by the same faith, he was trying to teach them? application of the word of God to daily living? awesome! post. Thak you and God bless…

In the case of the fig tree, it was a symbolic cursing of Israel and the religious order. He hadn’t found any real spiritual fruit, and cursed it. However the other side of that was the frightening speed of the judgment. It died and shrivelled overnight, right down to the roots.

Their own midrash points out that for forty years before the temple’s destruction, the temple gates would swing open by themselves, the crimson cloth would no longer turn white, and the western light would no longer shine.

I suppose I feel a bit sorry for the pigs, but it was a salutary lesson for any onlookers about Christ’s power, and what He thought about demons. He gave them their request, but He didn’t leave them alone for long. They had new lodgings for all of about three minutes.

In the case of the Temple and the corded whip, Christ was God in the Flesh. Why should He be diplomatic in His own temple, with a bunch of crooks just using it for a business?

When Jesus says “My house shall be called a house of prayer,” he cites (Isaiah 56:7) to indict the merchants for profaning the Temple. The Temple is not a common marketplce but a sanctuary for worship. In context, Isaiah sees God gathering all nations to his Temple. The Gentiles would no longer be excluded from his covenant people. The merchants are preventing Gentiles from truly worshiping by using the court of the Gentiles for a marketplace.

Jesus cites (Jeremiah 7:11) when he says “but you make it a den of robbers.” In context, Jeremiah was delivering a sermon of judgment to the Israelites in the Temple. They presumed security and protection in the Temple despite their sinful living. Because they disregarded Jeremiah, God destroyed Solomon’s Temple in 586 bc. Jesus is saying history will repeat itself if Israel fails to repent.

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