Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Accursed Tree

Yesterday, I introduced an idea whereby the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden may have actually been...a fig. And that was all about what we know about the fig and how it would fit into the character of God, in terms of its place in Eden. But there's something else I like about this idea of a fig, and for that, we have to go all the way to Jerusalem in the last days of Jesus.

I've written about this fig tree before, in the context of Jesus cursing a tree before He hangs on one. If, however, we argue that the original fruit in the Garden was a fig, this accursed tree takes on an entirely new significance.

If you don't remember this story off-hand, it takes place in the books of Matthew and Mark. Jesus and His disciples are walking around in the area of Jerusalem, and Jesus walks up to this little fig tree on the side of the road. We're told He's looking for fruit. He finds none. Then He does something that seems rather harsh, especially for a guy who went 40 days without food in the wilderness - He curses the tree. He curses the tree with such forcefulness that it withers up and never produces fruit again.


Which is one thing if it's just a fig tree that happened to be barren when Jesus was hungry for a fig. It's another thing if you think about it in the context I earlier mentioned - one cursed tree on the way to the accursed tree that Jesus would be crucified on. It's yet another thing still if the forbidden fruit was itself a fig.

And here's why: you would think that if Adam and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, if they became like God, knowing everything there is to know under the sun, then you would likely think that this would somehow make it easier for Adam and Eve to choose good. Wouldn't it? If you know what's good and what's evil, if you see clearly the world laid out before you, doesn't it follow that God makes just that much more sense to you? That good seems even better just for the contrast? 

Don't you think that if you know the difference between good and evil, that there would just be something inside of you that would go out and pursue the good? That you'd fight for the good? That you'd invest your whole life in not being part of the problem?

Don't you think that with all knowledge of what is good and what is evil, your very son would not kill his brother? I mean, at the very least! 

Don't you think that if you ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, it ought to bear some measurable fruit in your life? 

Yet that's not the story of God's people. Not by a long shot. God's people seem to be driven by evil once they know it. They turn their backs on God. They refuse to believe. They choose idols. They murder one another. They fight. They run. They argue and bicker and pout. The whole world is a mess, and you'd think it wouldn't be if men really had such knowledge. Right? If this knowledge was bearing any fruit at all?

Then Jesus walks down a street in Jerusalem, crosses over, and curses a fig tree. And you think maybe it's a strange scene (and it is). But if that first tree, that famous tree, was also a fig tree, it starts to make sense.

It starts to make sense that Jesus would go out of His way to say something to this fig tree. That He'd make a scene about making an example of it. That He'd offer such a curse for a tree, simply for not bearing fruit in a convenient fashion. Because maybe it's not about a tree that just didn't have fruit on a Tuesday when Jesus was hungry; maybe it's about a tree that hasn't borne fruit in a thousand generations.

All of a sudden, that fig tree takes on incredible significance.

So I don't know whether the forbidden fruit was a fig or not, just as I was never really sure if it was an apple. But I think there are a couple of really strong theological arguments for the fig. At the very least, it's fun to think about. 

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