N.T. Wright showed me something this week that I’d never understood before from the Gospel of Mark. In the story of Jesus and how he cleanses the temple in the week leading up to his death and resurection, the gospel writer sandwiches that event with a dramatic parable (that is the parable being acted out) where Jesus sees a fig tree, out of season, and curses it because it bears no fruit. I always thought Jesus was having a bad day or something, but He was illustrating something greater in the judgement of the Jewish people for their exclusion of the nations in favor of a closed relgious tradition built around a temple practice that was controled by a very small minority.
Jesus was cleansing the temple not because merchants were selling sacrifical animals. He was telling the whole world that God’s business was no longer residing on a temple mount, but in the hearts of anyone who would believe. No wonder the tide of public opinion drastically turned after the incident in the temple. The cheers of triumphant entry are turned to geers because the people were so greatly challenged to give up their idea that THEIR God could be for everyone…. and not just housed in a temple maintained by a select few.
Wow… How do you like them figs?