Scripture: Mark 11:1-33
Observation: Jesus enters the temple and becomes angry when he sees how the people have been selling sacrifices and other goods in the temple. He also curses a fig tree and talks to the disciples about the importance of faith, prayer, and belief in him.
Application: I’ve always been very regimented about my eating habits; I’m a three meals, three snacks a day girl all the way. My husband can go hours without eating, which is a phenomenon I simply can’t understand. If I go a few hours without eating, all of the sudden my “I’m hungry” feeling turns into “I NEED FOOD AND I NEED IT NOW OR I’M GONNA EAT SOMEONE’S ARM OFF.” Unfortunately for everyone else around me, there’s little to no warning when my hungry feeling turns into straight up hangry feelings. (Also, for all of my runner friends out there, I also experience a triple threat I like to call “runger” – the insatiable hunger you experience after a long run that leaves you starving and angry until somebody feeds you a bagel sandwich, gives you an icepack, and lets you watch Netflix on the couch for a few hours.)
When I first read this story, I thought, “Jesus gets hangry, too!” For reals. Go back and read verses 12-14. Basically, he’s hungry, goes searching for food, and comes across a fig tree, which he soon finds out has no fruit on it. So he gets mad, yells “May no one ever eat your fruit again!” and keeps moving. Jesus, I feel ya! Sometimes I yell when I’m hangry and open my fridge to find it empty. The struggle is so real.
But the story doesn’t end there. A few days later, the disciples come across the fruitless tree and find it withered and dead – a process that would typically take weeks. Jesus must have been REALLY hangry to impose such a curse.
Or is there more to the story than just Jesus being hangry?
I think there just might be. Why did Jesus curse the fig tree? Why was it such a big deal that it was fruitless? And after Peter points out that the fig tree had died, why did Jesus say what he said in verses 22-25?
When we start to dig into the story, we start to see that his judgment on the fig tree was about far more than the tree itself. His judgment demonstrated his intense distain for anything – or more accurately, anyone – who was fruitless. He had just experienced his people using the temple to buy and sell items, rather than its intended purpose: to be a house of prayer. He’s surrounded by people who followed the law and knew the right things to say, but at the end of the day, were so, so far from God. And it all made him pretty angry.
He wasn’t hangry and just took it out on the fig tree. He was angry. Angry that he was surrounded by so many people who just didn’t get it. Angry that he looked around and saw people who loved religion more than they loved God. Angry that people were selfish and self-serving rather than selfless and others-focused.
So he ends verse 22-25 by sharing with his disciples what a true relationship with God looks like. He tells them:
- Have faith
- Believe anything can happen – that even a mountain can be thrown into a sea – and it will
- Pray for anything and believe God for it
- Forgive others, so our Father can forgive us too
His words to the disciples are his words to us too. Have faith. Believe anything can happen. Pray it into existence. Ask for forgiveness. And let’s live a life that’s fruitful, a life that overflows with the fruits of the spirit we read about in Galatians 5:22-23 – love, joy, peace, kindness, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control.
Prayer: God, I pray that I’ll live a fruitful life, one that reflects your love and glory and kindness. I believe that in you and through you, I can do anything because the same power that lives in your son Jesus lives on in me. I confess my sins to you today and pray you’ll forgive me. I believe in you. Amen.