by Ryan Goude, Youth Ministry director at our Blacksburg campus
LEAVES, BUT NO FRUIT (Mark 11:12-19)
It was the day after Jesus’ triumphal entry, and Jesus and his disciples were on the way to Jerusalem for the Passover. On the way, they came upon a fruitless fig tree and Jesus cursed it. An easy response to this action is to say, “that was a harsh response,” but knowing the nature of Jesus and the scriptures we know there is more to this story. Jesus did not act out of a fit of rage or have a meltdown and curse the tree, and the same is said about Jesus’ actions at the temple. They were acted out parables of God’s judgment on Israel.
There is a connection between the cursing of the fig tree and the confrontation at the temple. Jesus and his disciples arrive at the temple, and instead of finding worship there was nothing but extortion, bribery, greed and dishonesty. Hundreds of people would come to Jerusalem during Passover to make sacrifices at the temple, and the religious leaders capitalized on this. They set up tables to exchange foreign currency for “acceptable” currency and marked up the rates. There were tables that sold sacrifices so people could buy animals that were deemed fitting to be sacrificed by the leaders, again with marked up prices.
Jesus called out the temple leaders for making the temple into a headquarters for robbers. The fig tree had the appearance of life, but in actuality there was none, and the temple had the appearance of life, but there was none. There were leaves, but no figs. There was religion, but no life, no worship, and no fruit. The temple was the perfect place to produce fruit. It was meant to be a house of prayer, a place to come and know God, for both Jew and Gentile, for all nations! So, Jesus condemned the leaders. He quoted scripture to the leaders, who should know them, and referenced Jeremiah 8:13, Malachi 6:6-8, and Isaiah 56:7. He chides the temple leaders for not bearing fruit. Jesus revealed himself as the Messiah through his display of authority and power to the religious leaders, and instead of falling down in worship they sought to kill him.
Jesus came to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10), and calls his people to be worshipers of God and produce fruit (Matt. 25:14-30 & Matt. 28:16-20). Jesus does not want his people to only have the appearance of life or only have leaves, but to have true transforming life that produces fruit.
How did Jesus respond to Israel’s and the temple leader’s disobedience? Will the same be for us if we are likewise disobedient?
How did Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection transform your life?
What fruit is being produced in your own life through a relationship with God? Are quiet times, your prayer life, and your relationships merely check-list items?
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