Reading for Monday, Oct 22: Mark 11
“Woe is me! For I have become
as when the summer fruit has been gathered,
as when the grapes have been gleaned:
there is no cluster to eat,
no first-ripe fig that my soul desires.
(Micah 7:1 ESV)
In the OT book of Micah, God chastises Israel for their lack of fruit-bearing at His arrival. In Mark 11, Jesus takes on this same role as He curses the fig tree (v12-14). But the text says that it was not the season for figs. Why does Jesus issue this judgment on the fig tree? Isn’t it NATURAL for trees to bear fruit in season?
This seems to be part of the teaching: Jesus is calling His followers to a counter-cultural way of life, similar to the way of life Israel had been called to through the OT Law. Isa. 49 tells us that God always intended for Israel to be a light to the world through their obedience to Torah; in the New Covenant, God’s desires are consistent for His people, the church, to declare His goodness and glory through their lives of faith. Jesus curses this fig tree for participating in the cycle of fruit and barrenness that marks our world. The greater teaching is that Jesus expects fruit born of radical faithfulness, faithfulness that expresses itself beyond the norms of “regular” life and its seasons.
We are right to hear these words as a warning against the temple and the institutionalized worship that occurred there. Torah was always intended to bring real life, not rigid religiosity. But these words are also a reminder for our day as well, a safeguard against mere ritualism. We would do well to heed the words of Jesus in v22:
“Have faith in God.”