Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Why did Jesus do that?

Elaine and I were talking this morning about the fig tree. Do you remember the fig tree? In Mark 11:12-14, Jesus comes to a fig tree, but it has no figs. The text says "it was not the season for figs". Jesus curses the tree, says "May no one eat of your fruit again". Jesus then goes and cleanses the temple. He comes back by the next day and Peter notices the tree is withered. Jesus says if we have faith, we can throw mountains in the sea.

Ok, now I understand the teaching moment of Jesus, saying if we have faith, we can wilt the fig tree, but why do it in the first place? It was suggested in my conversation with Elaine this morning that it's an illustration of the importance of breakfast. Perhaps Jesus' blood sugar was low, and he cursed the fig tree and drove out the money changers. Perhaps the next day, he ate a good breakfast and was able to make a lesson out of the tree.

In reading and studying, some say that from a distance, the tree looked healthy, having leaves. I read someplace that a fig tree sprouts fruit before leaves, so this would have been a tree that shouldn’t have had leaves or figs, because it wasn’t time. Adam Clarke said that some fig tree go early, putting out figs and then leaves, and Jesus was hoping for some early figs. Finding just leaves, he curses the tree. Perhaps Jesus was looking for the ‘first fruits’ of the fig tree, even though it was not time for the full harvest.

Another commentary said it’s a parable for fruitless Christians who look like they are mature, having leaves, yet are not. Some say it’s a representation of Israel. I think all of these come together.

When Jesus comes back to the tree, he talks about faith. Now having the faith to wilt a fig tree, that would be pretty cool, but I don’t think that’s the point. Jesus didn’t come and die so I can have salvation and wilt fruit trees. I think my life is sometimes reflected in the tree. Sometimes I have works, ie leaves, but lack faith, the figs. When this happens, I begin to wilt spiritually. Without faith, it’s impossible to please God, Hebrews 11:6. So in my life, I need to make sure my figs (faith) sprout before my leaves (works). What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. I think you are right on... we must have faith that can be seen before we have works that can be seen. Otherwise, the works point to us, not to Christ.