On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard it.
In order to understand why Jesus curses a fig tree for not having any fruit on it, even though it was not the season for fruit, we must look at what comes before and what comes after in Mark’s gospel.
First, Jesus had come into Jerusalem the day before riding on a donkey. This was after he had spent the last three years demonstrating that he was fit to be king. On several occasions the people almost took him by force to be their king. The people seemed to recognize that Jesus’ processional into Jerusalem was a declaration of his kingship.
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. ESV Zechariah 9:9
And so the people express their joy greatly by shouting:
And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!" ESV Mark 11:9-10
However, when Jesus reaches Jerusalem and enters the temple, not one of the priests is willing to acknowledge that Jesus is the rightful heir to the thrown of David. No one anoints him king. Jesus does not sit down on David’s royal thrown. Instead, he looks around and goes back to Bethany.
Why does Jesus merely “look around” when he enters the temple? More thoughts soon.