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"And Peter, calling to remembrance, saith
unto him, Master, behold the fig tree which
thou cursedst is withered away."—Mark 11:21 .
OUR thought is that this particular incident in our Lord's earthly ministry may be very significant. We see that nearly all his acts were good, not only for the time being, but, as it were, pictures of larger things to come after. In the casting out of devils, etc., he was showing forth the glory of his coming Kingdom. When his Kingdom shall come, all the sick will be healed, all the blind will have their eyes opened, all the lame will walk; there will be literal healing and blessing of the world. All devils will be cast out.
The Lord did not attempt to heal all the sick he saw when on earth. We recall the case where the impotent man was lying on the porch at the pool of Bethesda. Jesus went to that one man and said, "How is it that you are here?" He said, "When the time comes for the moving of the water, others step down before me." Then Jesus merely said to him, "Arise, take up thy bed." He said nothing to the others. He did not pretend to heal all the sick. He was merely demonstrating his mighty power, which will be fully expanded when the glorious Kingdom is established.
Therefore, we think we are taking the proper view of matters when we suppose that even the little things, every little act of the Lord Jesus, was in some degree prophetic, significant of the great things to come. Take, for instance, his coming into the boat at night. There was a great storm; but as soon as Jesus came into the boat, they were at the shore where they were going.
Now in the instance under consideration, we read that Jesus came unto a certain place and there was a fig tree and he declared something about gathering of figs; "for the time of figs was not yet," our common version reads; more properly it would read, "for the time of figs was not over," was not past. It would be strange for Jesus to come before the proper time to look for figs.
And he cursed the fig tree and said, "Let no more figs grow on thee to the age." Then later St. Peter called attention to the fact that the fig tree was beginning to wither, and Jesus said, "Have faith in God." What is the reason?
It is our understanding that the fig tree was a type or picture of the Jewish nation, to whom Jesus came when it was proper to expect fruitage. But coming to the Jews, he did not find the nation bearing fruit. The great ones of the nation were cast off; and only the publicans and sinners were ready to accept his message—the very ones the others would not recognize at all.
It is remembered that the nation had a blight upon it. At the end of his ministry, Jesus, riding to the brow of the hill overlooking Jerusalem, said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate." (Luke 13:34,35.) A very short time afterwards it began to lose its power; and the Jewish nation lost its identity completely as a nation in the year 70—37 years after.
While the Jewish nation has thus been in hades, in the tomb, so to speak, it is as a nation that they are referred to thus. Of course, they go into the tomb as individuals, as every one else; but as a nation also they have gone into the tomb. But according to the Scriptures there will be a resurrection of the Jewish nation, and a picture of that raising up is given where it says, "the bones came together, bone to his bone," etc. (Ezek. 37:7.) Those bones represent the whole house of Israel, which is referred to as saying, "Our hope is dead" (Vs. 11); our ambitions are all gone or are asleep!
So God is telling them that all the Kingdom hopes of that nation are to be revived. As Jesus said to his disciples in one of his discourses—When ye see the fig tree beginning to put forth its tender leaves, ye know that summer is nigh. We see the fig tree putting forth its leaves today (see Matt. 24:32; Mark 13:28); we see the Jews looking back to Jerusalem, and we thus see the fig tree putting forth its leaves, or giving signs of life, looking forward to the re-establishment of the Jewish nation. God says there will be such a Jewish nation again.