So, addressing the tree, he exclaimed, “May no one ever again eat of your fruit!” And his disciples heard what he said.
brook no detour
out of season
in larger love
This is often seen as an unnecessary curse (why would one naturally expect the fruit of figs before their season); it is not much different than prior teachings about dismissing a “Holy Spirit”, refusing to sell possessions, hanging millstones around the necks of others, and self-amputations.
Mark’s readers have, by now, become accustomed to knowing Jesus actions are as parabolic as his stories. At question is whether this action is literal rather than metaphoric and what justification there is for treating it literally.
We know the disciples have heard other things by Jesus, even specific directions, and have often not gotten the point.
We might remember them coming to Jesus complaining about others who are encroaching upon their territory and healing in Jesus’ name.
In hearing this curse, the disciples are likely to hear that they have another key that they can leverage into power and control.
They heard this statement to be about the fig tree, not about their not being ready for a next season or about Jesus’ hunger for mutual hospitality.
Mann441 looks at “the tradition which nurtured Jesus” and notes that “the Messianic Age, the Age of Blessings, will cause the earth to produce abundantly and beyond human expectation”. There will be “natural wonders which will accompany the time of restoration [an un-cursing of the ground Adam was to till]” (see examples in Isaiah 40:4-5, 45:2, 49:11, 51:10; Psalm of Solomon 11:4; and 1 Baruch 5:7). “Fruit out of season may be looked for, or expected, only by one entering upon the New Age who is hungry and righteous.”
Sabin-183 uses a midrashic approach that connects with G*D’s curse of the ground in Genesis so this has a larger context than just Israel and is a set-up for a universal reversal of all curses, even Jesus’.