21 November 2011

Eaton Ford (BS) - The fig tree

< 14th November 2011 | Index | 22nd November 2011 >

We worked through part of Mark 11, wondering about the significance of the withered fig tree and the events between the two mentions of the fig.

Large and small figs on the branch
Paul and I usually spend some time on Monday or Tuesday, reading and discussing a Bible passage. We didn't set out specifically to do this, we began Mark's Gospel on Fridays with Roger but some weeks we didn't have time to continue with it and Paul thought it would be useful to find a separate time for Bible study.

Today we were in Mark 11. We began by reading verses 12-26 with their double mention of the fig tree. We talked about how the fig might represent Israel and how the entire section then makes more sense. Yahshua was demonstrating that Israel had not produced the spiritual fruit required of it and was no longer expected to produce fruit but would instead wither.

Figs are interesting trees, they are never without fruit because as this years crop is ripening, next years fruit are already swelling and developing. To find a fig tree with no figs (only leaves, as Jesus said) would mean it was diseased or deficient in some way.

Israel rebelled against Rome. And in 70 AD, some forty years after Jesus spoke about the fig tree, the Roman forces defeated them. The Romans captured the city of Jerusalem, tore down the Temple, expelled, killed or captured the inhabitants, and rebuilt the city as a Romano-Greek town. Temple worship 'withered' at that time and has never returned since.

We noted that the course of events in Mark is that Jesus was hungry but found no fruit on the tree, only leaves. He said, 'May nobody eat fruit from you again'. When they arrived in Jerusalem they went to the Temple and Jesus drove the traders out. The officials started to look for a way to kill him. The next day the tree was withered.

In other words, the Temple was being misused for trading when it should have been 'a house of prayer for all nations'.

Meanwhile, in verses 27-33, the Jewish leaders take things further by asking Jesus who had given him his authority. They want to trap him and accuse him of blasphemy, but he doesn't tell them. He had already provided all the evidence they needed, for example by performing the messianic miracles. Perhaps he wasn't the kind of Messiah they had been hoping for.

< 14th November 2011 | Index | 22nd November 2011 >

1 comment:

  1. 'To find a fig tree with no figs (only leaves, as Jesus said) would mean it was diseased or deficient in some way.'
    Thanks for that!! I have always wondered about it. Lovely post.



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