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What the Fig?

Let's back up a little to the morning before Jesus tore through the temple traders... On the way from Bethany to Jerusalem, Jesus was hungry. He saw a fig tree, with leaves, but no figs. So he cursed the tree. What the fig? Was Jesus hangry? Or is there something else for us to figure out...

Fig trees usually bear fruit a few times a year. A tree with lots of leaves gives the impression that there would be fruit to be found. Think of this as being a "misleading" tree. Now, fig-trees, are often used in scripture as a symbol of the nation of Israel. So, the cursing of the unfruitful tree was a sign of the judgment due upon the unfaithful nation, which looked good from far but was really far from good.

The point is that a show of religion without any fruitfulness towards God, comes under God’s judgment, and so the tree cursing sets up the cleansing of the temple.

The next day (Holy Tuesday), they passed by the tree, and sure enough, it was all withered up. When the disciples pointed this out Jesus gave a surprising response. He spoke about faith, prayer that moves mountains, and forgiveness.

His point is that they should hold on to the faithfulness of God to remove whatever hinders them from bearing fruit for God. Moving a mountain was a metaphor in Jewish literature for doing what was seemingly impossible. Those who hold on to the faithfulness of God can have confidence that He will accomplish the impossible according to His will. And almost as an afterthought, he adds a line about being sure to forgive others.

All of this sets up what is about to happen on the cross. He is going to take God's judgment on behalf of a rebellious people. He is about to accomplish the impossible and offer forgiveness to all who will have faith in Him. In return, He requires authenticity and no pretense, complete reliance on Him, and hearts that are quick to forgive others in the same way they have been forgiven.



Jesus, we come to you in authenticity, without pretense. Will you help us to hold on to your faithfulness, to pray prayers that are aligned with your will and so will move mountains, and will you by your grace help us to be quick to forgive, because you have forgiven us so much.

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