It’s always been one of the passages in the Bible that I find problematic, but at the same time, it’s also one that has an authentic air that says, “This really happened.”
12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany he was hungry. 13 Seeing from a distance a fig tree in leaf, he went over to see if he could find anything on it. When he reached it he found nothing but leaves; it was not the time for figs. 14 And he said to it in reply, “May no one ever eat of your fruit again!” And his disciples heard it.
I like that “And his disciples heard it” touch. The writer of the Gospel is saying, You may not believe he laid a curse on a tree, but we were there, and we HEARD it, man!
This was just before Jesus drove the money changers out of the Temple, which is an interesting juxtaposition: The fig tree thing suggests Jesus could get pretty peevish when hungry, the second is the only account we have of him getting violently angry.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about that passage lately as I look at my own fig tree, which I planted maybe a decade ago, and which has yet to produce what I would consider to be a normal crop of figs. I think last year was the best we’ve done, and I got to eat maybe five or six figs, total.
I also think about the parable:
He spoke also of this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down….
Even by that more patient standard, this tree is on thin ice.
We pruned it during the cold weather. Then, I did indeed “dung it” with some Black Kow manure. I worried that maybe we’d pruned it too much, because it was slow to produce new greenery. But eventually it broke out with a decent profusion of leaves — but no figs. Finally, a couple of things that look like they might aspire to become figs some day have emerged — but they’re kind of weird and misshapen.
When I walk around my own neighborhood and across the USC campus, I see loads of green figs popping out all over the place.
Maybe it’s the variety. (My tree isn’t the usual Brown Turkey fig. When it produces fruit, it’s bigger and it stays green even when ripe. I want to say it’s some sort of Greek variety. I bought it at the State Farmers Market.)
Maybe it’s because we had no rain for so long, up to the last couple of days.
I don’t know. Any suggestions?