In yesterday’s blog post we looked at Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem the Sunday before the crucifixion. Today we will look at the fig tree and return to the temple.
Monday, Jesus went back from Bethany into Jerusalem. On the way He was hungry. “And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.” (Mark 11:13) Jesus cursed the tree, saying that no one would eat from it ever again.
Although Mark says it wasn’t time for figs, a tree that had leaves would have edible fruit already growing if it was going to bear figs that year. So, even though this seems odd at first reading, Jesus wasn’t being irrational. For an excellent, detailed discussion of this, check out this article from Apologetics Press.
Think about the fig tree as an illustration. God had worked directly with the Hebrews for hundreds of years, and they should have been bearing spiritual fruit. But as the next event we’ll talk about shows, they were far from it. Just as Jesus was disappointed in the fig tree, He was displeased that His people were not being faithful.
Later that day He went back to the temple, a place He had come with His parents. Now as an adult, did He think about walking toward it with his family? Did He remember the time He stayed behind to talk to the teachers and His parents came back to search for Him?
But this time, when He went into the temple, things weren’t as they should have been. “Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, ‘It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’’” (Matthew 21:12-13) The very place that should have held spiritual renewal for the people had totally lost sight of the love of God.
What else did He do? He healed people in the temple. Jesus brought compassion everywhere He went, and even though He had just been so angry that He turned the tables over, He saw the need around Him. The people kept saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” and rightly so. However, the chief priests and scribes were “indignant” (Matthew 21:15). The religious leaders, who should have been watching the prophecies fulfilled before their eyes and been ready to welcome salvation, were jealous.
Jesus went back to Bethany to stay the night. I wonder if His shoulders sagged with disappointment and weariness as the temple grew smaller behind Him. The One who lived in the least ostentatious way possible was at the center of a tumult that would split a city, a nation, and the world.
Come back tomorrow and we will look at what happened to the fig tree as well as some of Jesus’ teaching.
May the Lord bless and keep you,