AFTER THE royal coming of Jesus to the city and the Temple, on the next morning--which was Monday--Jesus left Bethany very early, without waiting for his breakfast, and with his twelve disciples walked over theMount of Olives toward Jerusalem.
The walk and the early morning air made him hungry, and seeing a fig tree covered with green leaves in a field near the road, he went to it, hoping to find some figs upon it.
The laws of the Jews allowed any person passing by a field which was not his own, to take as much fruit or grain as he wished to eat, but not to carry any away; so that Jesus had a right to go to this tree and help himself to its fruit. Jesus knew that it was not quite the time for ripe figs, for they do not become ripe in that country before May or June, and that day may have been in March.
But on the sunny slope of the Mount of Olives figs often ripen early in the season and as the figs always come before the leaves, wherever the leaves were abundant, there might be among them some ripe figs.
But when Jesus came to the fig tree, and looked at it closely, he found that upon it was no fruit, either ripe or green, but only leaves. Then a thought came to Jesus, and in the presence of his disciples he spoke to the fig tree.
"From this time let no fruit ever be picked from this tree forever!" he said.
This was not because Jesus was angry with the poor tree, which could not help not having fruit. It was because he saw in that tree a parable or picture of the Jewish people. They made a show of serving God, and were like trees covered with leaves; but they did not bring forth the fruit of good lives, of love to God and their fellow-men. They were fruitless trees, and trees which have been planted and kept for fruit are of no use without fruit.
The twelve disciples who were with Jesus around the fig tree heard those words, and soon had cause to remember them.