Contributed by RLM, GA
The account of the fig tree (Matt 21 or Mark 11) used to bother me – or at least its deeper meaning never quite touched me before. Jesus has returned to Jerusalem and is shortly going to be arrested, tried, and crucified. He’s hungry and sees a fig tree; but when he get up to the tree, he sees there is no fruit on it for him because it wasn’t yet the season for the tree to bear fruit. And the initial account wraps up with the following: “And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter forever.” The next day, his disciples notice that the tree is dried up at the root, completely dead.
That always struck me as … harsh. Why destroy the tree? Wasn’t it reasonable that the tree had no fruit if it wasn’t in season? But the other day, something different occurred to me. I noticed that it says “And Jesus answered and said unto it…” Who or what was he answering? Jesus was answering – with a fierce rebuke – the idea (expressed by a fruitless tree) that his source of good, of supply, of abundance, of life itself, was material or dependent on anything other than God. And the more I thought about it within the context of what was getting ready to happen, the more I saw just how subtle and wicked the suggestion was and what the intent might be – coming right before the crucifixion. It was a very subtle attempt to undermine God’s power … especially in light of the fact that Jesus had already demonstrated God’s love and abundance by feeding the multitudes twice or when his need for tax money was supplied by a coin found in a fish. The old devil, evil, error, animal magnetism, whatever name one wants to give it, would still suggest the opposite of God right before a time when Jesus would need to stand on the foundation his life’s work had built. That’s why Jesus rebuked or “answered” this suggestion so soundly. His understanding was so absolute, that the next day that tree had withered and died i.e, the manifestation of a claim of something apart from God was wholly destroyed down to the roots (source).
The lesson this new insight has given me is the importance of recognizing these rotten suggestions that come to my own thought and "curse" them (vehemently reject them) when they do. I think that is what is meant by "Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." (2 Corinthians 10) The more I do that, the more the following promise is fulfilled: "As mortals gain more correct views of God and man, multitudinous objects of creation, which before were invisible, will become visible. When we realize that Life is Spirit, never in nor of matter, this understanding will expand into self-completeness, finding all in God, good, and needing no other consciousness." (S&H p.264)