Mark – The Facts.
How disappointing to us when something we expected just isn’t. Maybe it was an interview for a new job. All the details of the work were embellished and presented as something that wasn’t even close to reality. Maybe it was a house or vehicle you decided to buy based on what was told to you and it turned out to look good on the outside but turned out to be plagued with problems inside. Maybe it was a good friend who told you what you wanted to hear so you would feel safe then they betrayed you to others with gossip and lies. Whew, life is not always like we expect it to be. Did this ever happen to Jesus? Yes!
Notice that Jesus entered the Temple the evening before the “cleansing” the next day. He took it all in. Business hours were over. Did he feel the evil that was there at that time? Was He disappointed by what he felt even the night before? Did the anger begin to build at seeing and feeling what was not what he expected at the Temple?
The gossip writer shares the “fig incident” to prove that the anger was building. Jesus expects fruit on the fig tree but finds none…so he curses it! “No one is going to eat fruit from you again–ever!” Could that be a deeper evaluation of the Temple? Of His church now?
Now, they are at the Temple, walking from the nearby town of Bethany were they stayed the night before. “Immediately” is a word that causes us to think that Jesus already knew what He was going to do. The Temple also bore no fruit of worship of God…only the business of money making, filling the pockets of the Temple officials and others. After the cleansing, He taught them, quoting God’s Law, as should have been taught in the Temple but apparently wasn’t. This panicked the religious scholars and high priests. Why? Because the people were listening!
Mark 11, The Message
11 He entered Jerusalem, then entered the Temple. He looked around, taking it all in. But by now it was late, so he went back to Bethany with the Twelve.
The Cursed Fig Tree
12-14 As they left Bethany the next day, he was hungry. Off in the distance he saw a fig tree in full leaf. He came up to it expecting to find something for breakfast, but found nothing but fig leaves. (It wasn’t yet the season for figs.) He addressed the tree: “No one is going to eat fruit from you again—ever!” And his disciples overheard him.
15-17 They arrived at Jerusalem. Immediately on entering the Temple Jesus started throwing out everyone who had set up shop there, buying and selling. He kicked over the tables of the bankers and the stalls of the pigeon merchants. He didn’t let anyone even carry a basket through the Temple. And then he taught them, quoting this text:
My house was designated a house of prayer for the nations;
You’ve turned it into a hangout for thieves.
18 The high priests and religion scholars heard what was going on and plotted how they might get rid of him. They panicked, for the entire crowd was carried away by his teaching.
19 At evening, Jesus and his disciples left the city.
20-21 In the morning, walking along the road, they saw the fig tree, shriveled to a dry stick. Peter, remembering what had happened the previous day, said to him, “Rabbi, look—the fig tree you cursed is shriveled up!”
22-25 Jesus was matter-of-fact: “Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you. This mountain, for instance: Just say, ‘Go jump in the lake’—no shuffling or shilly-shallying—and it’s as good as done. That’s why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you’ll get God’s everything. And when you assume the posture of prayer, remember that it’s not all asking. If you have anything against someone, forgive—only then will your heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins.”
What else do we need to notice?
–Peter glanced over at the same fig tree and remembers the curse and points it out to Jesus. We do not have to point out to God what He has done. He knows. But it is good that we remember and learn our own lessons well.
–Jesus comes full circle with his followers about faith, works, love, grace and mercy:
*Embrace this God-life. Seriously. Listen to Him.
*Pray about everything, every detail. God delights in the
*Give God everything and we won’t miss a thing. Put Him first
in all we think, do or say.
*Forgive and be forgiven…an ongoing and everlasting posture
*We will bear the fruits of the Spirit if we do: Love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and
Dear Heavenly Father, What a lesson for your church! What a lesson for our individual hearts. Teach us well, but be gentle. May our hearts be “houses of prayer” as well as Your churches.
Root out all evil and restore your church around the world. Begin with me.
In Jesus Name, Amen