In this Bible lesson from the Book of Mark, we learn how the money changers and merchants were getting rich at the expense of those who wanted to pray at the temple in Jerusalem.
Christ cursed a fig tree and drove out the cheaters once more.
But, we’ll uncover an unusual twist to this story from my pal, Brooks.
Mark 11:12-26 – Jesus Clears the Temple Again – Discover the Riddle of the Withered Fig Tree
In this part of the Easter story Christ clears the temple for the second time.
He was angry at the money changers and the cheating of the merchants.
Selling of sacrifices with big profits was commonplace so Jesus became upset.
But, why kill a fig tree along the way? When we look closer, it’s not such a big mystery!
Withered Fig Tree and Clearing the Temple
On the next day, when they had left Bethany, He became hungry.
Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it,
He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.
He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening.
Jesus Drives Money Changers from the Temple
Then they came to Jerusalem.
And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves; and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple.
And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a robbers’ den.”
The chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching.
When evening came, they would go out of the city.
As they were passing by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up.
Being reminded, Peter said to Him, “Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered.”
And Jesus answered saying to them,
“Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.
Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.
Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.
But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.” – Mark 11:12-26 NASB
Christ clears the temple of money changers for a second time
At first, this passage really threw me! After all the cruelty Christ had experienced from the keepers of the law without recourse, and now He is angry at a fig tree?
But, as I studied more it became evident that Jesus was relating the cursing of the fig tree to the clearing of the temple.
Big Promises That Don’t Deliver
The fig tree made a big promise of food with its flowing leaves blowing in the breeze. But, it turned out that a promise was all it offered because there was no fruit to give.
In the same likeness, the temple looked promising from the outside but had no substance.
True worship of God had all but disappeared from inside the temple walls. And, the money changers were getting rich from selling “offerings” to the visitors who came to pray and reflect.
Jesus was really upset by the hollow religious life inside the temple which bore no “fruit“.
But, What’s the Big Secret about the Fig Tree?
As I said at first, my friend Dr. Brooks Walker had another insight into the withered fig tree. He says that maybe cursing the tree and killing it shows what Jesus “could have done” to the temple merchants.
Instead, He drove them out.
So, was this a fit of rage? Not at all. With a simple spoken word, Christ could have pronounced them dead; just as He did with the fig tree.
I had never thought of this theory until Brooks mentioned it in Sunday school. Amazing, huh?
QUESTION: Are We True Followers – or Hollow?
We can learn something profound from this passage.
By the way, the withered fig tree is also mentioned in Matthew. It’s included as part of the Easter story.
We proclaim to be followers of Christ but just saying “I am a Christian” is not enough.
We have to truly believe, worship, and put faith to work in our lives so that we will not end with the same emptiness as the “barren fig tree“.
No, acts of kindness will not get us into heaven. Only Christ can do that. But, we can show kindness because of what He did for us.
Let’s pray and find out what we can do for God today.
Love in Christ
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