On The Subject
And The Fig Tree
From: Jeanne Smith
To: Positive Atheism <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: On the Subject of Jesus and the fig tree:
Date: Friday, February 20, 1998 9:58 AM
On the Subject of Jesus and the fig tree:
This story is not necessarily contradictory due to the fact that one account says the tree withered, and they noticed it then, and the next account says they saw it withered the next day. It may have been reaffirmed and marvelled over the next day as they again passed that way, or the withering may not have been totally complete before the next day.
As for the cursing of a tree that did not or did not as of the time bear figs, this illustrates perfectly the authority of the word of faith, not a temper tantrum. Jesus illustrates the works of faith continuously throughout the New Testament Scriptures. "For as many as believed on Him, to them gave He the power to become the children of God..." , certainly it is an admonishment to believers to rely on the power of prayer and faith, not self-righteousness or physical force. Ask, Believe, Receive ... key elements to successful prayer which were so important to the Lord that he chose to sacrifice the fig tree to illustrate the power available to those who believe. "Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord."
A much easier (and more natural) way to explain it is that the story is based on incidents which occurred in the autumn (i.e., during the Feast of Booths) and was transplanted by Gospel editors to take place in the springtime (Passover). This makes sense if the Gospel editors wanted to portray Jesus as the Passover Lamb. It also makes sense if they sought to avoid the (likely) notion that Jesus languished in prison for several months, and if they wanted to paint his execution as resulting from the demands of a fickle mob of Jews ("a party that got out of hand," as the late comic Lenny Bruce put it).
As for the temper tantrum, who do you know that would kill a tree for not bearing fruit when it is not in season to bear fruit?
Of what value is "faith" when it expects a tree to bear fruit out of season, especially given that the expectation of the faith did not come to pass? Does this kind of faith promote virtues such as patience, the work ethic, and trust in natural processes, humility, and thankfulness for what we have?
If we are to "ask, believe, and receive," then for what purpose are the the natural processes of biology? How is it that some should, through "faith," be able to reap where nothing was sown?
And, have you personally tested this claim ("ask, believe, and receive"), made by the Bible, on a fig tree during the springtime? Did it work? Did the fig tree bear fruit out of season?
As for demonstrating some "Power," why would a humble man of peace and understanding like myself be attracted to, or impressed by, a "Power" which seeks to destroy that which it does not like?
"I am a perfect specimen of the human species in that I am perfectly human."
Material by Cliff Walker (including unsigned editorial commentary) is copyright ©1995-2006 by Cliff Walker. Each submission is copyrighted by its writer, who retains control of the work except that by submitting it to Positive Atheism, permission has been granted to use the material or an edited version: (1) on the Positive Atheism web site; (2) in Positive Atheism Magazine; (3) in subsequent works controlled by Cliff Walker or Positive Atheism Magazine (including published or posted compilations). Excerpts not exceeding 500 words are allowed provided the proper copyright notice is affixed. Other use requires permission; Positive Atheism will work to protect the rights of all who submit their writings to us.