Passion Week: Monday

Jesus curses the fig tree

It is Monday morning, the dawn has not yet broke and Jesus awakes in a rather grouchy mood.  All night images of people peddling God in the Temple courtyard have been running through His mind.  He probably arose early and went out alone to pray, as was His custom (Mark 1:35).  After this Jesus and His disciples begin their journey back into Jerusalem.  

As He is approaching town, Jesus notices a fig tree, the symbolic tree of God’s blessing, on the side of the road.  Seeking some breakfast, Jesus approaches the tree but only finds leaves.  Already in a bad mood, Jesus is irritated by the tree's lack of fruit, He pronounces a curse on the tree, "Let no one eat fruit from you ever again."  

Much like the temple He was about to enter, this tree offered signs of hope.  It was full of leaves and had every indication that there should be something there to eat. Instead the tree offered nothing, but the empty promise that it had food.

Jesus destroys the temple
Jesus then proceeds to the temple where like the fig tree, a place of hope has been turned into a place of empty promises by the thieves that inhabit it.  And like the tree, God’s blessing was about to be taken from this place.

Last night, He had witnessed the thieves and swindlers selling sacrifices and taking advantage of peoples desire to worship God.  At this point, Jesus is both angry and hurt by the mockery that is being made of the worship of His Father.  Jesus cries out, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you have made it a den of thieves."  Chaos erupts as He begins to overturn tables, releasing the sacrificial doves and chasing all of the peddlers out of the temple area.

I wonder how Jesus felt moments after driving these people out.   I wonder if He cried as He now stood alone in the rubble of broken tables and scattered cages.  Again I wonder if He questioned whether or not we were really worth dying for.  I wonder what Jesus did.  Did He drop to His knees in frustration with humanity?  

For some reason in my mind, I picture Jesus sitting alone in the temple staring down at the ground with tears of frustration in His eyes, muttering to God.  I can then imagine Him being startled by somebody touching His hand.  As He slowly looks up He makes eye contact with a small child who has a badly deformed leg.  Jesus' heart melts with compassion and He heals the child.  

Jesus heals the townspeople
After this more and more people begin to come to Him in the temple and He spends the rest of the day healing the blind, the sick, and the lame.  These few moments of sorrow begin to erupt in joy as people who have never walked begin to leap, people who have never seen suddenly can see the vibrant colors that have always been around them.  Children begin to sing, "Hosanna to the Son of David!"  Reference the children singing, Jesus later says they have "...perfected praise."  

At the end of this long day, after seeing the joy and the hope He had brought to these people, I wonder if Jesus was encouraged?  I wonder if He felt renewed strength to face His fate with every child He heard laugh, with the first expression of every blind man that could suddenly see, and with the leaps of joy from every cripple that had never walked.  I wonder how He felt as He walked from the temple grounds back to the small town of Bethany where He spent the night?  At least for today, the temple was not a place of empty promises.  Today, God was in His house.



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