Astonished and afraid. Two words split the difference between the Jewish people and those in authority over them as they watched Jesus ride into town on a colt (or a donkey in some translations). Which do you think was which?
Put yourself in the place of those watching this historical scene - those who were astonished laid their clothes down in His path, and those who were afraid stood ready to attack. Why do you think they did this?
For weeks, Jesus has been surrounded by those who wanted Him to heal them and those who saw His existence as a threat to both their authority and their Law. How soon this will change into a feverish pitch of emotions - rejection, hatred, and a call to crucify.
It's easy for those of us seeing these scenes through the lens of history to judge them - all of them - for murdering the One who came to give them life. What if we looked at them through the lens of Jesus - beloved children.
Yes, you heard that right. Up to the very end of His earthly life, Jesus had compassion on even those - especially those - who hardened their hearts against Him. We know that Jesus well. Did you know that the same Jesus upended tables and brought a whip to the Temple?
Why? He was zealous that His house was to be used as a worship and prayer place - not a place to extort money over His children. Two things were happening in the part of the Temple reserved for the Gentiles.
One was the sale of unblemished animals for sacrifice for two days' wages. Two, the Temple had its currency, so those coming to the Temple to give had to exchange their coins. Those in charge of doing this were business owners who charged an outrageously high exchange rate - think the APR of your first credit card.
This, and a wayward fig tree, angered Jesus, and out came the whip and upturned tables. This was the only time He seemed to really lose it. It was a wave of holy anger reserved only for the most grievous sins. He was not playing around.
So what's the deal with the fig tree? If you're reading the account in Mark 11, you'll see something known as a Markan Sandwich. It's where the writer of Mark started a story, paused to tell another story, and then comes back to the first story. It may look like these accounts aren't related, but they are.
The fig tree that bore leaves, but no fruit (leaves were supposed to be evidence that fruit was present), represents the nation of Isreal in His day. It's there to remind us that our lives as believers produce fruit, not just appear to have it in our lives. This fruitlessness shows up in the Temple and the lives of the religious leaders of Jesus day.
This destruction of the fig tree was the only time Jesus performed a destructive miracle. This shows that it held great importance for Jesus and us. This destruction was the result of a prayer made in faith. This is the level of faith He wants us to have in Him and God.
How does Jesus describe faith? It's trust, confidence, and reliance upon someone or something. It's easy to have faith when things are good, but how we believe when things aren't as good reveals the level of our faith.
Do you believe and take Him at his word? I admit that it's a lifelong struggle for me, but I'm getting better with His help. I think that's all He wants from us; to realize our need for Him.
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