HOLY WEEK REFLECTIONS: MONDAY
The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.
15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’[c]? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’[d]”
18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.
19 When evening came, Jesus and his disciples[e] went out of the city.
20 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”
22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly[f] I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” [
Jesus, who was staying with friends in Bethany, makes his way to the Temple on Monday. It had to be an exciting place to be with the whole country coming to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. Passover, of course, was the great liberation of Israel from Egypt. Each year, Israel remembers God’s work and longed for God to work again. At the center of this celebration was the temple and the sacrifices made there for the Passover meals.
Jesus and his disciples were on the way to the Temple the Monday of Jesus’ Passion Week. Along the way, there was a fig tree that did not have any figs on it. That really was not a surprise sense it was not fig season. Jesus curses the tree because it was not producing fruit. Really? Then Jesus arrived at the temple.
Observing the money changers and people making profit off God’s Holy Temple, Jesus flipped their tables, and for one day prevented profit from being made off God’s Temple. Matthew’s version points out that the poor, blind, and lame came to Jesus and he healed them after flipping the tables. The Temple’s purpose was to be a house of prayer, but it had become a “den of robbers.”
Going back home that night, the disciples noticed the tree that Jesus cursed. It had withered and died. Mark loves these “sandwich” stories. He often sandwiches two stories together. In this case the fig tree made a point about the temple. It’s season was over. A new and greater Temple was here – Jesus himself. Jesus would make the ultimate, one-time sacrifice for the salvation of the world. True liberation would not be from looking to the Temple, but rather to a crucified and risen Jesus.
When we look at our lives, is there anything that Jesus needs to flip over? Is there anything that we do that keeps us from fulfilling God’s purpose in our lives? For the church at large, are we producing the fruit of the Kingdom? Or have we made God’s house again a den of robbers? Let’s all fix our eyes, ears, hearts, and souls upon Jesus and his life, teaching, death, and resurrection.