Friday, December 05, 2014

When Was the Fig Tree Cursed by Jesus?

I had the privilege of preaching at the Hagerstown Rescue Mission Tuesday night and after my talk a young gentlemen approach me and had a few questions about alleged Bible contradictions.  One of the apparent contradictions he asked me about was the account recorded in Matthew and Mark about Jesus cursing the fig tree.  To him, they seemed to contradict.  In one passage [Mark 11:12-14, 20-24] it seems Jesus curses the tree before the cleansing of the temple and in the other passage [Matt. 21:12-19] it appears that Jesus curses the tree after the cleansing of the temple.  Is this a clear contradiction?

In their excellent book The Big Book of Bible Difficulties, Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe explain:

"Jesus actually cursed the fig tree on His way to the temple as Mark said, but this does not mean that Matthew's account is mistaken.  Christ made two trips to the temple, and He cursed the fig tree on His second trip.

Mark 11:11 says that Christ entered the temple the day of His triumphal entry.  When Christ enters the temple, Mark does not mention Christ making any proclamations against any wrongdoing.  Verse 12 says "Now the next day," referring to the trip to the fig tree on the way to the temple the second day.  On this day, Christ thew out those buying and selling in the temple.  Matthew, however, addresses the two trips of Christ to the temple as though they were one event.  This gives the impression that the first day Christ entered the temple He drove out the buyers and sellers as well.  Mark's account, however, gives more detail to the events, revealing that there were actually two trips to the temple.  In view of this, we have no reason to believe that there is a discrepancy in the accounts." [1]

This explanation demonstrates why it is important for both believers and unbelievers to use sound principles when evaluating alleged Bible contradictions.

Courage and Godspeed,


Anonymous said...

Chad, you truly blessed the men the Tuesday night at the rescue mission. Several of the men testified that they have had legitimate questions about scripture, but are normally encouraged to "just have faith" They were blessed when you took the time to do the apologetics. Keep up the research. God is using you. Todd Stroud

Chad said...

Pastor Todd,

Thank you so much for the encouragement!