If the fig tree signifies Israel's fruitlessness, then it also signifies that earthly power which seemed most insuperable to Jesus' followers and the greatest source of their despair. If we had asked Mark's readers what, in their judgment, was the greatest single obstacle to the triumph of the gospel, many of them would have answered: the implacable hostility of the leaders of the Roman synagogue. Considering this hostility, what was the likelihood that the mission of the Church could succeed? To them "faith in God" meant confidence that "this mountain" (the weight of Israel's resistance) would be "cast into the sea."
- from page 110, The Gospel According to Mark