Mark 11 Jesus Curses a Fig Tree and Clears the Temple Courts12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.
15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.
At first glance this looks like a bizarre set of unrelated stories. Jesus was hungry and saw a fig tree with no figs and cursed the tree. To our modern sensibilities this makes no sense. We breed fruitless fruit trees. Indeed, one of the most popular trees in our area is the Bradford Pear that produces nary a single pear. In a society where food is scarce, however, there is no place for fruitless fig trees. Any tree that is all leaf and no fruit is just taking up valuable minerals from a tree that could be feeding the hungry.
When Jesus walked into the temple, however, we discover that Jesus’ true concern is not fruitless fig trees. His concern is the temple which was to be feeding the spiritually hungry, but had instead become “fruitless.”
Europe is filled with dead churches that have been turned into night clubs and furniture stores and all manner of businesses become they became “fruitless.” America is not far behind. I fear that we have become experts in breeding “fruitless” churches.
How dare we claim our churches as places where the faithful few can gather and hide from the world. The world is hungry and they are coming by our churches looking for fruit. I met one couple at church yesterday that moved to town over a year ago and can’t find a church. There are churches on every block of our city, but somehow people are still going hungry!
On Monday Jesus said, Damn you trees that are all leaf and no fruit and damn you churches that are all show but there is no true life in you.
My Monday prayer: God forgive us for settling for being faithful when you called us to be fruitful!