Mark 11:12-19 12 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. 13 And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.
15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” 18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. 19 And when evening came they went out of the city.
Prior to this passage recorded in the book of Mark, Jesus had just made His triumphant entry into Jerusalem. He had publicly declared to the world that He is the Christ as He allowed the people to worship Him as the Messiah, the Christ who came to save Israel. But He didn’t just come to save Israel but anyone who is willing to call upon his Name! He came to save us from our sins for we are all born into this world separated from God because of the sin nature within us inherited from our original parents Adam and Eve. How would we be saved? Through His death and resurrection. Jesus had prophesied that He would die. Three times He told His disciples what would happen but they could not understand. Soon He would reign but first He must die. But who would kill Him? Jesus had already told His disciples that the He would be killed by the Jewish religious leaders as well as the Romans. All of mankind would come against Him. Truly the sinner is an enemy against God at heart. We all by nature, apart from being born again, hate God for we love our sin. Until we come to a place of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ we will oppose God.
But as of yet Jesus had not told His disciples what would happen to those who would have Him killed. What would God do with them? Surely no person could kill the Son of God without there being a consequence. Here, after Jesus enters into Jerusalem, Jesus for the first time reveals what will happen to those who will continually reject Him. They will be cursed. Israel had been given the special blessing of God for thousands of years. They were the chosen nation. They were blessed of God above all the other nations. God spoke to them directly. They heard the voice of God. They had the Word of God. They were given the Law of God and had the special protection of God. And yet when the Christ made His glorious entrance into Jerusalem the majority of the people within the nation of Israel did not recognize Him. The religious leaders would do everything in their power to have Him killed and He would be dead within less than a week. Jesus saw who came to worship Him. He knew the hearts of those who saw Him ride the donkey’s colt throughout the city. He witnessed the public depravity in the Temple- the place where God’s very presence was to be manifest. How could the Jews claim they were a holy and a special people when the worship in the Temple showed all kinds of outward evil and rebellion against God? Jesus had already cleared the Temple at the beginning of His ministry (John 2:13-21) and so soon after it was already in the same state of wickedness.
And so Jesus uses the picture of the fig tree. Jesus looks for a fig from a tree that was already in leaf. It was not the season for figs but this tree already had leaves. The fig tree is unique in that the fruit grows before the leaves. So Jesus goes to look for figs on this one tree that should have had fruit. But he found none. And so he curses the fig tree. No more would it produce fruit. This fig tree was a picture of the nation of Israel. Israel should have produced all kinds of fruit. It should have had all kinds of righteous people reflecting the glory of God and worshipping Jesus as the Christ. But there were so few. It was like a barren fig tree. And so God would now reject Israel and open up the Gospel to the rest of the fig trees that were not yet in harvest. The Gentile nations would come into the Kingdom of God and Israel’s time of blessing would be over. No more would Israel have the unique position among the nations. God will yet be faithful to Israel for the sake of His promise to Abraham and there will be a great harvest of Jews that will come into the Kingdom of God before Jesus’ second coming but for now they remain cursed.
So when Jesus clears the Temple the second time this is a grand statement He is making. No more will you know My presence. No more will I make Myself known to you. They had rejected Him and so He would now reject them.
Jeremiah 8:13 When I would gather them, declares the LORD, there are no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree; even the leaves are withered, and what I gave them has passed away from them.”
When Jesus first cleared the Temple they could claim that they did not know who He was. But by the second time they should have known. They should have worshipped Him. They should have been living in a manner worthy of His coming but sadly this was not the case. And yet the tremendous mercy of God was still seen in Israel. In spite of their rejection of Him, God would not destroy Jerusalem until A.D. 70. He would still give people time to repent. For 40 years they would still have time to believe in Jesus Christ and He was willing to yet save them.
How foolish are we to think that God’s mercy is unending. If we continually reject God there will be a consequence. No matter who we are, our life is going to come to an end. Some people are given more time than others but we all must stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. On that day how will Jesus Christ see us? Will our body (our temple) be clean? Will we be washed by His blood? Will we be found ready for His coming? Will we be living a transformed life by the power of the Holy Spirit actively at work in us? Or will we be like Israel when Jesus made His grand entrance into Jerusalem? Do not think that you can go on rejecting Jesus Christ forever without there being a consequence. Do not think that you can go on sinning against God forever without there being a consequence. Turn to the Lord Jesus Christ before it is too late. There is still time to turn. It is not too late. And His love is so amazing that He will receive the worst sinner! He can and will save all who turn to Him! He died for all who will receive Him!
Pastor Murray Hack