Mark 11: 12-25
It was the morning after.
Having made quite the entrance into Jerusalem – palm branches waved and laid down; hosannas lifted high – Jesus and His disciples woke up in Bethany again. Good friends are just that. Good.
There’s no mention of Martha this morning. I suspect she’d have been up at the crack of dawn whipping up her famous pancakes for her guests. But Jesus seems to have left Bethany hungry. Perhaps even Martha rested some mornings.
Heading back into Jerusalem, Jesus’ stomach growled. A fig tree in full bloom was just ahead, its foliage blowing in Bethany’s spring breeze. Jesus found the tree with lots of leaves but bearing no fruit, not even a pre-season fig or two hiding beneath one of its leaves.
14 He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And his disciples heard it.MARK 11, CSB
Was Jesus hangry?
Seems a little harsh, cursing a poor fig tree for not blooming out of season, right? Yikes! But Jesus wasn’t hangry. He wasn’t even angry.
As usual, He was teaching. “His disciples heard it” is our clue. And well, the little barren fig tree was once again the object lesson. (A few months back, Jesus had told the parable of the barren fig tree. Luke 13:6-9 And if we dig a little deeper, God used the fig tree many times to symbolize His people; the people of Israel. The disciples would have heard things a bit differently than we do.)
And this teaching moment was going to drag out a bit. Jesus didn’t rush to make His point.
Having made their way back to Jerusalem, they returned to the temple. Finding everything but worship going on, Jesus overturned tables and ousted those buying and selling. He rebuked those hanging out to cover their sin with no intention of repenting. Nor obedience.
Now Jesus was angry!
Angry that His House of Prayer was everything but that. The temple was bursting with people but empty of worship. And after making a declaration and an unforgettable scene, Jesus waited until dark to leave for Bethany. He wasn’t the only one who was angry.
The following day, as Jesus and His twelve once again returned to Jerusalem, something caught Peter’s attention.
Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi,(J) look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”Mark 11:21 NASB
The tree had withered from its roots; it wasn’t sun-scorched.
The teaching had come full circle.
The fig tree was full of leaves, but it bore no fruit. The fig trees of Jerusalem would have 2 fruits: pre-season fruit (nodules) and in-season fruit. If a tree showed no pre-season fruit, it was never going to produce the real thing.
Jesus didn’t curse a tree for not producing fruit out of season. (That would be crazy.) He cursed it because it was never going to produce the fruit. Ever.
The temple was bustling with Pharisees and scribes, but the priests uttered no prayers. No one worshipped. The halls were full of worldly activity but no spiritual fruit.
The fig tree withered, and the temple, too, would eventually be destroyed.In real-time, Jesus was teaching His disciples and warning them about those who rejected Him as Messiah.
The same is true today for those who reject Jesus.
But what can those of us who have chosen to follow Jesus learn from the fruitless fig?
From this side of the story, I know that in Christ and because of Christ, I am secure in my relationship with God. His work redeemed me and restored me to my Heavenly Father.
But is my life proof of who He is? Do I live — think, speak, act — like Jesus. Do I love deeply? Do I extend grace?
Am I staying busy with spiritual activities that charm, or am I grounded in prayer and given to worship?
Is the time I spend in prayer and worship changing me? Is that change reflected in my relationship with those I love? My neighbors? My enemies?
Am I bearing fruit that will attract the lost and feed the hungry?
Or am I just covered in flashy foliage?
Heavenly Father, gracious Lord. I know that I have been redeemed because You left Heaven for Earth – lived, died, and live again. Lord, let me not keep this to myself. Give me courage to share your love with everyone who will listen. But Lord, let me too, live in a way that shouts Your good news. Let me love deeply those who are hard to love. Let me show mercy to those in need of mercy. Let me give grace in the measure that it has been given to me. May my life attract the lost. May I bear much fruit as I abide in You, surrendering my wants for Your best. Amen.
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