Join me this week to read the gospel accounts that walk us through the final week of the Lord Jesus.
Here’s a helpful breakdown of what happened1 on Monday:
- Jesus curses the fig tree (Matt. 21:18-19; Mark 11:12-14)
- Jesus cleanses the temple (Matt. 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-18; Luke 19:45-46)
- Jesus returns to Bethany with His disciples (Mark 11:19
Let’s examine today what Mark recorded about these events.
Mark 11:12–19 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry.  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.  And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.  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.  And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple.  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.”  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.  And when evening came they went out of the city. (ESV)
What must we learn from this text?
Most Bible teachers see the curse on the fig tree and the clearing of the Temple as related events. How do they relate? Consider first that Jesus was hungry and looked for fruit on the fig tree. On first reading this you may think that it’s strange for anyone to look for figs when Mark says it wasn’t the season for figs. However, when Jesus saw the leaves on the tree from a distance, He knew that when fig leaves appear, so too appears the green figs. That’s true of fig trees: the appearance of leaves should be accompanied by the first figs. He curses the tree and travels down the Kidron Valley and up into Jerusalem.
Jesus clears the Temple for the same essential reason that he cursed the fig tree: He finds no fruit among the worshippers. Worship has become a means to get money, not get God. Those charged with leading and shepherding people to God were actually preventing them from God. Jesus says, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations… but you have made it a den of robbers!”
Here’s what we should consider on this Monday:
- Jesus expects fruit from His people. He has the right to demand the fruit of worship and prayer from my life.
- Let each of us consider: am I truly seeking God and helping others do the same? Or am I content with religious activity that centers on man?
Lord Jesus, how much You desired to see fruit come from Your people that Passover week so long ago. You are worthy, wonderful King of receiving the gifts of Your people. All they were and had then, and all we are and have now, should be the praise of Your great Name. Forgive us for how we have lived for ourselves. Help us by Your Spirit to bring fruit to You today.
1. Crossway is currently offering free access to their ESV Study Bible. To access the Harmony of the Holy Week Chart, simply sign up for that resource, and even more, from Crossway.