READ: Mark 11:1-25 (esp., v20-25)
- Mark adds two narrative comments that indicate Jesus’ teaching through these events. In the first fig tree segment, Mark says, “his disciples heard it” (v14). In the final fig tree segment, Mark says, “they saw the tree was withered and Peter remembered…” The withered tree seems to be the point. But it’s not the tree…it’s the Temple. Mark’s sandwiching of the Temple cleansing in the two segments of the fig tree episode points to the Temple as the point.
- The tree was barren even though it gave signs of life. The Temple was barren, even though it was a thriving bazaar. The point of a fig tree is figs; the point of the Temple is access to God. Instead, the Jewish leaders had turned it into a money exchange. Jesus points to the barren tree and says, “That’s Israel, as evidenced by the Temple.” It’s little wonder the leadership wanted Him eliminated.
- Many scholars believe this all points to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Within just a few years of Mark’s writing, Titus (Vespasian’s son) destroyed the Jewish Temple and changed the Jewish state until modern times. Just as Babylon destroyed the Temple in the 500’s BC, Rome destroyed it in 70 AD. Both were testimony to God’s faithfulness in keeping His word, even when it’s a word of judgment. Israel had lost its mission, to be a light to the Gentiles, and God removed them.
- To what mission has God called His people today?
- In what ways might the church be at risk of becoming like Israel?
- Why do you think Jesus focuses so much on “faith” after the fig tree episode?
PRAY: Thank God for His faithfulness to His word. Pray that we might be a church on mission and not distracted. Ask God to use us to serve Him effectively.