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Jesus And The Fig Tree

Fruit plays an important role in the Bible. So do trees. The fig tree is probably the most important of these. The writers of God’s Word used the fig tree to illustrate some of the most important principles about God and His people.

There is an interesting appearance of the fig tree at the very beginning of the ministry of Jesus and then another fateful occurrence at the very end of His time on earth. They are very important bookends to Jesus’s ministry.

In John 1, Jesus began gathering followers. Some of them just followed Him around but others became committed disciples. Among them was Nathanael. Jesus had seen Nathanael before they even met and He made this observation:

John 1:47-48
“Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, ‘Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!’ Nathanael said to Him, ‘How do You know me?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.’

Nathanael’s response was startling. He was awestruck and called Jesus the Son of God. That seems disproportionate, doesn’t it? Why was Nathanael so amazed by Jesus’s words? It helps to know what it means to be “under the fig tree.”

In Zechariah 3, God demonstrated exactly how someone becomes righteous. They are cleansed by God. one does not become righteous by being good and perfect but by God making them clean. God’s holiness makes us righteous. Towards the end of the chapter, Zechariah wrote that a “Branch” would come to God’s people who would remove their iniquities. When that happened, “Every one of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and under his fig tree.”