|Volume 22 Number 6 June 2020||
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Someone asked, “Did Jesus put a curse on a fig tree?” The implication may be that somehow our Lord acted in an unbecoming way and was worthy of censure.
Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.” And His disciples heard it. … Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter, remembering, said to Him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.” (Mark 11:12-14, 20-21 NKJV)
Yes, Jesus did put a curse on a fig tree. The incident was symbolic of coming divine retribution or punishment upon wicked humanity at the conclusion of the longsuffering of God (2 Peter 3:9-12).
Of all Jesus’ miracles, only this one was a curse. It was absolutely necessary that Christ’s miracles should attest the ultimate judgment of God upon evil works. Otherwise, it could have left an impression that divine power would be used only to heal, help, and bless man. The lesson of the fig tree, however, proves that God will eventually judge mankind and punish wickedness. Since the time had not yet come for the pouring out of the wrath of God upon the ungodly, since the time of human probation had not yet expired, Jesus made the curse to rest upon a tree, a thing, and not a person. … In connection with this, let it be noted that the fig tree was not cursed for barrenness. The fig orchards were full of barren trees he did not curse. This one was cursed for its barrenness while professing by its leaves to be fruitful! That was exactly the case with Israel. They were barren spiritually; yet by their elaborate pretensions to righteousness, they advertised a true religion they simply did not possess. Moreover, they were at that very moment in the process of rejecting the very Head of all true religion. (Coffman)
Albert Barnes defined the curse upon the fig tree to mean a consignment to destruction. That particular fig tree had misrepresented itself forasmuch as figs form first and the appearance of leaves afterward signify that the figs have ripened. The event was prophetic, first regarding the nation of Israel in the first century and secondly regarding humanity generally at the Judgment following the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Hence, in no way did our Lord act out contrarily to divine nature or according to pettiness. Everything that Jesus Christ did during His ministry was instructive and sometimes predictive.
Barnes’ Notes. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 1997.
Coffman, James Burton. James Burton Coffman Bible Study Library. CD-ROM. Abilene: ACU Press, 1989.
Single versus Married
The related questions were put forth thusly: “Is the single or unmarried state really inferior to the married state? Why the pressures from the church and parents on the spiritual superiority of married life?” For most people, marriage is the ideal marital status, as long as husbands and wives practice biblical principles (Ephesians 5:22-33).
God Himself at the budding of human habitation upon the earth determined that a man and a woman were suitable companions, coworkers and a family (Genesis 2:18, 21-24). As husband and wife, God instructed them to propagate the human race (Genesis 1:27-28), which is not possible alone. Likewise, following the worldwide deluge of Noah’s time, God told the four couples who disembarked the Ark, “…Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1 NKJV). This, again, is the business of growing families, not something done alone.
Both testaments of the Bible abound with references to married life. God approves of marriage and detests sexual relationships outside of marriage. “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4). Marriage is the proper way to address one’s natural physical attraction to the opposite sex (1 Corinthians 7:1-5).
However, the apostle Paul was not only unmarried, but he also recommended that marital status to others, too. “But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment. For I wish that all men were even as I myself…” (1 Corinthians 7:6-7). In addition, the same apostle acknowledged that because of some circumstances it was better for a time, at least, men and women do not marry (1 Corinthians 7:26). Even Jesus acknowledged that sometimes it is better not to wed (Matthew 19:12). Nevertheless, couples unable to control their passions ought to marry rather than to burn with lust (1 Corinthians 7:9).
Single life has some advantages, as was with the case of the apostle Paul. Remember, too, that Jesus was unmarried. Those who marry have family responsibilities that will affect the amount of devotion that a person can have for activity in the kingdom.
But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife. There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband. And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction. (1 Corinthians 7:32-35)
Married life, when enjoyed within the parameters of Scripture, is rewarding and gratifying. Evangelism begins with one’s own family, and the ultimate conversion of children contribute greatly to the continuation and future growth of local congregations. From among families, too, churches select their elders and deacons (1 Timothy 3:1-13). Unmarried men cannot qualify for appointment to an eldership.
Each person must decide for himself or herself whether he or she will marry. In either case, biblical principles ought to guide Christians in their moral deportment, Christian living and Christian service.