On day 2 of Jesus’ final week before the crucifixion, Mark 11:12 tells us that Jesus was hungry. He looked up, saw a fig tree with leaves on it and went to it because fruit typically appears at the same time as leaves. There were no figs on it yet because the season hadn’t yet come. Jesus cursed the fig tree and moved on. Jesus expects us, as much as that fig tree, to produce fruit. He’s hungry for us as believers to tell His story and to show them the way to forgiveness that can only be found at the cross.
Jesus went to the temple for the second day in a row. He found that nothing had changed since He overturned the tables the day before. A holy anger came over Him and He began flipping the tables over again. He saw people using the temple as a shortcut and stopped them. They would walk through it instead of around it. I see in this that we need to be repeatedly cleansed by Jesus. We need Him to come into our temple daily and to cleanse it. We all have sin that seems to come back often. We need to be vigilant against it and keep turning over the tables on it. Church is not a shortcut to getting past the problem. Prayer is how we break the cycle.
The next day, Jesus came back to Jerusalem. As they passed the fig tree, Peter noticed it was withered to the root. Surprised about it, he shouted out for everyone to notice it. Jesus was matter of fact in verses 22-25. He said, “Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it and nothing will be too much for you.” He then told them that if they would include everything in their prayers, they’d get everything. Too many times we don’t fully embrace the faith we profess. We embrace the parts of it that we want and try to do the rest on our own. We don’t get everything we ask for because we haven’t yet trusted God for everything.
He also says in this teaching that when we “assume the posture of prayer, remember that it’s not all asking. If you have anything against someone, forgive – only then will your Heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins.” I spent a lot of my life making my prayer time nothing but requests. I’ve learned that the relationship God wants to have with us is not for us to use and abuse Him. He’s not a genie sitting there waiting to grant our wishes. He wants us to know Him personally. He wants us to become more like Him. He wants us to forgive others the way He forgives us. He wants us to let go of people’s past the way He let go of ours. When we get this, we’ll experience all He has for us.
Finally on day 3, Jesus went back to the temple. This time the priests were waiting on Him. I wonder if the money changers were sitting there and started packing up their stuff. The priests asked Jesus what authority did He have to come in and wreck the temple each day. Jesus responded with a question of His own, “Who gave John the Baptist his authority?” They were trapped and refused to answer. He then told several parables to them and they continued to try to trap Him with questions throughout the day. His message to them and to us is that He will not be tricked into doing what we want. He wants us to be in obedience to what His will is and then we will receive the blessings that follow obedience. Life is not about us, it’s about Him. To whom does your life point?