The Cursing of the Fig Tree, v12-14; The only time Jesus used God’s power to harm anything was to teach a lesson on judging hypocritical religious leaders. All of Christ’s miracles were to show compassion towards people and/or establish the powerful authority of his message. Religious leaders should be fruit-bearing, and the fig tree appeared healthy, but had no fruit. Just like the ruling Scribes & Pharisees, they looked healthy on the outside, but were empty on the inside. At the expense of the tree, Christ proved to us that his insight to judge was a warning to Christians of all ages that fruit-bearing can not be neglected and we can not afford to ignore growing the fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23. It seems Jesus had to go hungry, and if we do not bear fruit, His Spirit must be grieved, Ephesians 4:30-32. It appears that Mark records this incident as a sign of what is going to happen to the leadership in Jerusalem. The fact that the nation as a whole is indicted is made clear in Mk.13:1-37 where Jesus speaks of Jerusalem’s destruction. On the subject of the fig-tree being out of season, true, It wasn’t the season for figs. But it was the season for faith and forgiveness. It was Passover. If there was a time Jews should be ascending to the temple in faith with expectations of forgiveness, this is it. If Jesus will curse the fig tree out of season and it withers, what will happen to the Temple which fails to bear fruit in season? What will happen to the Christian that doesn’t bear fruit?
The Second Cleansing of The Temple, v15-19; The first cleansing in Jn. 2:13-16, where Jesus renounces the moneychangers during the same feast time but years earlier, sets the stage for this final denouncement of their greed-filled ungodly gain. The language Jesus uses here in Mark is harsher, calling them “robbers”, whereas years ago, he simply compared them to running a “marketplace”. But regardless of the severity of language, The Temple in the mind of Christ was his Father’s House of Prayer for all Nations, not just Jews (Isaiah 56:7). But they had inflated the currency rate of exchange for the events using Temple Shekels only, regardless of what currency foreign proselytized believers brought to Jerusalem. Which was a strict way of working the economy considering the Romans denarius was in widespread use throughout Israel and in Jerusalem. The holiness of sacrifices must have been at stake in the minds of the Jewish Temple traders, as they would only use shekels to buy & sell sacrifices for the Feast’s activities, but of course this gave their greed a legit reason for inflating the rate of exchange and maybe even exchange fees. What made Jesus very angry was more than simply the theft, but also the perversion of purpose in the sacrifices bought. In 11:16, he even prohibited transport in the Temple of the sacrifice purchases, as if to say by his actions, that if they needed to exchange currency and conduct business in sacrifices, they should be doing it OUTSIDE the Temple grounds! If anyone wanted to prove who was holier than who, Jesus proved by banning their transport, who exactly had the holiest purpose, keep the Temple a place of prayer, not business! In the eyes of Jesus they were hypocrites of holiness. Matthew 22:21.
The Withered Fig Tree, v20-25; The power of judgment against hypocrisy was a lesson for his disciples who saw the quick death of the cursed tree, not the religious leaders in the Temple. The whole church was shown this in Acts 4:34-5:11. How often do we need to be reminded to keep the purpose of our sacrificial service holy? Whatever service we render in the name of Christianity, should benefit Christ, or your neighbor, not ourselves. Mark 12:30-31 & Duet. 6:5. Therefore forgive as our Father has forgiven us, Eph. 4:32.
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