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Mark’s first-century biography – page 32

On the following day, they (Jesus and his disciples, c. AD 30) having come away from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing afar off a fig tree having leaves, he went if perhaps he will find anything on it. And when he came up to it, he found nothing except leaves, because it was not the time for figs. And he, responding, said to it, “May no one eat fruit from you any more in this age.” And his disciples heard it. 
Is this another ‘play’? It seems to be. Prior to Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, the Israelite people were often referred to in their Scriptures as being like a fig tree. To them had been given the Ten Commandments (through Moses around BC 1350). They were God’s chosen people. But they had become totally fruitless. The leaves were only for show – religious show.

If so, Jesus was teaching a frightening thing to his twelve Israelite disciples.

And they came to Jerusalem.  And coming into the temple he began to drive out those selling and those buying in the temple, and he threw down the tables of the money-clippers and the seats of those selling the pigeons. And he would not allow that anyone might carry any container through the temple. And he was teaching and he was stating to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” 

Again, Jesus was teaching by his actions – and then by his words. This time it’s all about what the Israelites had made of the one and only Jerusalem Temple. Buying. Selling. Money-clipping. Pigeon selling. Transportation. In every case – in the temple - people were making profits - for themselves. 

‘If your treasure is on earth you are going from it; if it is in heaven you are going to it.’ (Anon.) 
The whole concept had been that people of every nation or ethnic group should have been able – in the temple – to pray to the Lord of heaven and earth for all they lacked to be freely supplied.

And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way that they might destroy him, because they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. 

Truth hurts. The religious leaders decided they must destroy the fruitlessness truth. It seems that the crowd were startled when truth was taught and stated.

And when it became late, they came out – outside of the city. And as they passed by early, they saw the fig tree dried up from its roots. And Peter having remembered, stated to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has dried up.” 

The night falls within Jerusalem. Jesus was in Bethany with his disciples. The next morning, Act Two of the fig-tree ‘play’ takes place. It seems that the role of the Israelites as bearers of God’s truth is to be “dried up”, root and branch.

And Jesus, responding, stated to them, “Have faith in God!"

Jesus’ teaching is very simple. The fig-tree is forever fruitless. The Temple is forever for human profit-taking. Believe in, pray to, trust, the living God.

"Truly, I state to you that whoever may say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and may not doubt in his heart, but may believe that what he speaks will be done, it will be - for him. By reason of this very thing, I state to you, all these very things you pray for and you ask, believe that you receive and it will be – for you."

This mountain”? What mountain? “These very things”? If the Jerusalem Temple and the Israelite religion were no longer fir for purpose how then were human beings to be forgiven by Almighty God and brought back into fellowship with the LORD? Forgiveness for fallings-away from the living God. Fellowship with the Almighty.

‘If we cannot go to the house of the Lord, we can by faith go to the Lord of the house.’ (Matthew Henry, Bible commentator, 1662 - 1714) 
If so, Jesus seems to be calling on any and every individual to pray to and to have faith in him personally – and for ever – for forgiveness and life.

"And when you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father, the one in the heavens, likewise may forgive you your fallings-away.” 

Jesus expected his disciples to be praying and asking for something which they desperately needed – vertical forgiveness for their fallings-away. He would give that to them – by faith. If their faith was real, they would then be forgivers, in their turn, of ‘anyone’ who damaged or hurt them. 

Sinner Syvret

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