Today I’d like to touch on a couple of the symbols and their significance from Christ’s last week. Next week I’ll cover more insights about Christ’s last day.
CHRIST’S LAST WEEK
Jesus was crucified on the Passover. I already explained why Christ’s first mock trials likely happened on Tuesday and not Thursday night. Also why Jesus always called himself “the Son of Man,” and in light of this, my documentary link explains the huge significance of “Palm Sunday.” The significance of this event to Christ’s sum total of life actions cannot be overstated. If you haven’t already watched this documentary link, I recommend this above all other things I mention in this blog as significant for Palm Sunday.
THE PALM BRANCHES
Why did the Jews wave palm branches when Jesus rode the colt of a donkey on Palm Sunday?
The palm branch is a symbol of victory, triumph, peace, and eternal life originating in the ancient Near East and Mediterranean world. The palm (Phoenix) was sacred in Mesopotamian religions, and in ancient Egypt represented immortality. In Judaism, the lulav, a closed frond of the date palm is part of the festival of Sukkot. A palm branch was awarded to victorious athletes in ancient Greece, and a palm frond or the tree itself is one of the most common attributes of Victory personified in ancient Rome.From Wikipedia
Coins have been found that say, “Judea capta.” And how did the Romans show the end of Jewish nationalism when they minted this coin 73 AD? A large palm tree in the center, symbol for Judaism, a Roman soldier standing on one side, a bowed down Jewish woman, representing the nation, with her back to the symbol of independence and nationalism on the other side.From The Gospels and the Feast of the Land
CURSING THE FIG TREE
I wondered what would cause a fig tree not produce figs and I found 3 reasons: if the tree is too young, if there’s too much nitrogen in the soil, and if there’s too much or not enough water. But why would Jesus curse the fig tree?
The fig tree was one of the most valuable…trees…. This bountiful tree provides a double or even triple yearly crop. About the end of March the new leaf buds appear. At the same time or even beforehand tiny figs begin to grow at the juncture of the old wood and the new buds. These figs (called taqsh by the Arabs) grow to the size of a cherry but fall to the ground with every wind that blows (Isaiah 34:4). These “green” …or “untimely” …figs are eaten with relish and even sold in the market. Those that remain on the tree reach their ripeness and are harvested in June, the “first ripe figs.”
So valuable a tree…became a symbol of safety and prosperity (I Kings 4:25; Isaiah 36:16; Zechariah 3:10), while the failure or destruction of the tree was considered complete disaster (Hosea 2:12; Joel 1:7, 12; Habakkuk 3:17-18). The fact that the fig tree puts forth green figs at the same time or even before the leaves (at Passover season early in April) gives meaning to Jesus’ cursing of the fig tree…. The application of this incident to Israel’s own failure to produce fruit for God would naturally occur to the disciples, for the fig had more than once been used as a symbol for Israel (…Jeremiah 24:1-8; Hosea 9:10; Luke 13:6-9).From Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia
It may appear at first that Jesus was just temperamental and enjoying his power too much when he cursed the fig tree. I covered why I saw most anger as sinful in the Pseudepigrapha and Apocrypha, and we know Jesus never sinned. Jesus used the cursing of the fig tree to teach his disciples the power of prayer (Matthew 21:18-22). But that wasn’t Christ’s primary purpose for cursing the fig tree. This was only a response to a response.
I grew up in a church where the parents accepted their children were “Christians” because they prayed a prayer. The lack of change in their lives afterward didn’t persuade the parents their kids may not be truly saved. Christ taught the importance of producing fruit befitting righteousness. We dare not assume free tickets to Heaven when eternity is at stake.