Scripture – What stood out?

Mark 11

12 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. 13 And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.


Observation – What does it say?

Jesus had already entered Jerusalem the day before and on his way back to the temple Jesus gives us a prelude to the main event (Jesus emphatically driving out the buyers and sellers at the temple who had turned it into a den of thieves rather than a house of prayer).


Understanding – What does it mean?

In his bible commentary Alexander MacLaren writes regarding verse 12 “For experts tell us that in the fig-tree the leaves accompany, and do not precede, the fruit.” 

Jesus approaches a tree with the appearance of ripe fruit in the distance due to its leafy foliage. Upon closer inspection however, the tree has no actual fruit to offer. Jesus curses it and then proceeds to flip the temple inside out.

Initially I felt bad for the tree. Until I read the MacLaren commentary. Leaves accompanied fruit. The tree therefore only gave the appearance of having fruit when in fact it did not. Much like how a group of teachers in that generation, perhaps even in ours, gave the appearance of having spiritual fruit, when in fact they did not.


Just as there is no room in Jesus’s temple for thieves, there is no place in Jesus’s kingdom for people who appear to bear fruit in their lives but upon closer inspection do not.

Life Application How can I apply this to my life today?


Jesus could not stand the Pharisees’ appearance of holiness when their hearts were empty of actual devotion to God. The leafy fig tree is a reminder to us all  (not just to the teachers of the bible) that God seeks the attention of our hearts. And so I ask myself today, would God characterize me as a person who has – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control – in my life? Or not?


Lord, today I choose to take a spiritual inventory of my life. Coach me where I am lacking. Help me to forgive where I am bitter. Show me how to live my life so that I bear an abundance of fruit. In the name of Jesus do I pray.

-Ken Lee