What Tree Was In the Garden of Eden, and Why Did Jesus Curse It?

In Jewish tradition, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a fig tree. By eating it, mankind fell, and we lost the glory of righteousness which had clothed us in the Garden. . . . What does the New Adam do just before inaugurating His New Covenant? He curses the curse. He curses death and sin symbolized by the fig tree. He promises there will never be another cataclysmic Fall when He says, "Let no one eat from you ever again!"

During Holy Week, on Great and Holy Monday, Jesus cursed the fig tree and cleansed the Temple.

Why curse the fig tree? What an odd thing to do! Skeptics like to mock the apparent irrationality of the act. What is going on here?

Riding the donkey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday reveals Jesus as the New Solomon, and cursing the fig tree reveals Him as the New Adam.

In Jewish tradition, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was a fig tree. By eating it, mankind fell, and we lost the glory of righteousness which had clothed us in the Garden. Ashamed of their nakedness, Adam and Eve clothe themselves with fig leaves. Anyone with any experience with fig leaves knows this is not a good undergarment — the oils give you a rash. This testifies to the inadequacy of mere human penance and our inability to heal ourselves.

What does the New Adam do just before inaugurating His New Covenant? He curses the curse. He curses death and sin symbolized by the fig tree. He promises there will never be another cataclysmic Fall when He says, "Let no one eat from you ever again!"

And so, where the first Adam failed, the second Adam sets things aright.

Why did Jesus cleanse the Temple? Was He just as grumpy as we are on Monday mornings? What was that rage from the Prince of Peace about?

He says, as He is cleansing the outer court of the Temple, "My House is to be a house of prayer for all nations!" The "nations" is another name for the Gentiles. In other words, the Temple was not supposed to be just for the Jews, because the promise to Abraham was not just to the Jews but for all nations. Yet the Jews had turned this outer court into a marketplace. Imagine being a Gentile and wanting to pray in the Temple, but being surrounded by bleating sheep, mooing cows, and doves cooing galore.

The Jews did not value the Gentiles, and did not care that their prayers were interrupted. The Son of Man did care, and He set it aright.

Another mystery: Jesus is said to be a priest after the order of Melchizedek. Yet the Jews had an Aaronic and Levitical priesthood. Of all the Jews, only those from the tribe of Levi (and not all of them) could be priests ministering to God. They had to be family men, with children, and they had to be physically perfect.

But Isaiah 56 shows us what the priesthood of the Messiah will be like — it will even include Gentiles and eunuchs. And what sort of priesthood does historic Christianity have? One that is predominantly Gentile. And even though most Orthodox priests are married, the Orthodox priesthood also includes those who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heavens' sake, by becoming priest-monks and celibate priests.