Did Jesus destroy a defenseless fig tree?

In the New Testament we read a strange account of Jesus being involved in a seemingly mean-spirited event:

Early in the morning, as He was on His way back to the city, He was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, He went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then He said to it, ”May you never bear fruit again!” (Matthew 21:19)

The poor defenseless fig tree immediately withered and died.

Was Jesus so disappointed and angered at not filling his face with figs that He cursed the poor tree’s very existence? This cruel reaction seems out of character for someone representing the God of heaven and promoting empathy.

Worse yet, Jesus tells His disciples that if they have true faith they will gain the same power to also destroy such fig trees, and, even throw great mountains into the sea! Is that what religion is for—to increase one’s power for destruction? Inwardly, I do not believe that Jesus sought to destroy the ecosystem or any living thing in it.

So why is such a silly story even worth mentioning in the Holy Text? What does Jesus’ strange behavior here have to do with teaching us about the salvation of the human race?

What gives here? Am I missing something?


According to scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg the Holy Word contains deeper meanings than those offered by a mere literal (terrestrial) interpretation of its narratives. On these deeper (or higher) levels, the Bible communicates profound spiritual messages—all of which are eternally relevant to one’s personal salvation.

Swedenborg claimed that a “tree” symbolizes a belief system or one’s personal worldview—because the mind’s thoughts are rooted in the soil of our chosen principles, and therefore, grow, branch out and flower in a way that expresses these very principles. A non-fruiting tree represents a limited worldview or intellect that offers nothing valuable (fruit) to others in society. So, in this biblical story, Jesus was symbolically communicating the idea that if anyone sincerely follows His teachings they will be able to eliminate such non-productive thinking from their minds.

I don’t know about you, but such a rarefied message, contained deep within the stories and words of Holy Scripture, seems to me to be perfectly in character with the communications of an infinitely wise and caring God!


About thegodguy

EDWARD F. SYLVIA, M.T.S. Philosopher/Theologian Edward F. Sylvia attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and received his Master of Theological Studies at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA and a Certificate of Swedenborgian Studies from the Swedenborgian House of Studies. He is a member of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (C.T.N.S.) and the Swedenborg Scientific Association (S.S.A.). Award-winning author of "Sermon From the Compost Pile: Seven Steps Toward Creating An Inner Garden" and "Proving God," which fulfills a continuing vision that God’s fingerprints of love can be found everywhere in the manifest universe. His most recent book, "Swedenborg & Gurdjieff: The Missing Links" is an edgy collection of anti-intuitive essays for personal transformation that challenges and inspires. He has been a student of the ideas of both Emanuel Swedenborg and George I. Gurdjieff for over thirty years. Read more about TheGodGuy, his books and his ideas at http://www.staircasepress.com
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2 Responses to Did Jesus destroy a defenseless fig tree?

  1. jesuswedding says:

    There is yet a deeper meaning to this parable. He is speaking of the blood and snake worshippers. They worship the blood and sacrifice innocent animals and sometimes even people to appease their gods. Or They belong to the Dionysius cult the worships the wine and revels in drunkenness and sexual misconduct. These people have a system of worship, but they do not show the fruit of self-control, love, and caring for others.

    Thus a tree, which is the center pole of the spiritual energy system, that does not produce good fruit, should be destroyed.

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