Today’s Scripture Reading: Psalms 51, 69; Lamentations 1:1-2, 6-12; 2 Corinthians 1:1-7; Mark 11:12-25
Today’s Writer: David Freels
From what I’ve read about fig trees in Israel at this time of year, the tree would have been producing fruit because the leaves come before the fruit. The tree would have had the appearance of bearing fruit, but it was merely a tree of leaves, a tree of appearances covering a lack of fruit.
Jesus curses the tree which seems harsh on the surface, but Jesus actions always have meaning. Jesus isn’t throwing a tantrum because he didn’t find his favorite snack, (the way I did one time at my favorite restaurant in Charleston when I discovered the meal I had looked forward to was no longer on the menu).
Jesus is making a point that will become soon become clear. From the deceptive looking tree, Jesus moves on to Jerusalem where the temple, like the fig tree, has the appearance of Godly work, but in reality it too is barren. The place of prayer which was meant to be a light to the nations and a sign pointing those visiting to the love of the one true God, was a market place and a barrier to encountering Jesus’ Father. Now the lesson of the fig tree comes into focus.
I read through these 2 stories and, though I do not like it, I see myself. The temptation to manufacture an appearance that I am okay, that I am in control and in the place with God that I am supposed to be. When I do that I’m not in a place to live by mercy and grace. I’m leafy, and so long as no one looks too closely, I am doing fine. It’s not the first time in the scriptures that leaves have been used to cover up, and just as God had to provide covering for Adam and Eve that required death to provide the skins, so it takes the Cross to provide the mercy and grace for my life to bear the kind of fruit that pleases the Lord. The fig tree is a sobering image.
“Lord help me to not want to cover up, to not be satisfied with leaves alone. Help me to forgive others who have disappointed with a leafy image, because I am right there with them. Overturn the godly appearance that I’m tempted to be satisfied with. Give me a hunger for You alone.”