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On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it. Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, “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 when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.
In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. Then Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”
One of Those Days
Have you ever had one of those days, when you work and work and work and seem to accomplish nothing? I’ve got to admit, they happen to me more than I’d like to admit. Of course, to be honest, I probably should define “accomplish nothing” a little better. I mean, sometimes, even though I may not have done what I considered important or reduced the amount of stuff I might need to finish before Sunday, I may have made a genuine difference in the life of somebody else or accomplished something that someone else really wanted me to do. I guess “nothing” really is in the eyes of the beholder. Still, there are days when I seem to have actually done as close to nothing as you can get. Fortunately, this generally happens on my day-off; therefore, I only need to explain to Debbie why I was able to spend an entire day and not cross off one item on my “to do” list. But even more than disappointing my wife, on those days, well, I feel as though I’ve disappointed myself. You see, I’m acutely aware when I’ve actually done nothing productive.
And I think that’s really the point of both these stories from Mark. Both the fig tree and the Temple were not productive. They weren’t doing what they were created to do. In fact, they were not accomplishing much of anything. One had produced all kinds of leaves but no fruit. And the other had become like a hide-out for thieves rather than a house of prayer. And even though there may have been extenuating circumstances for both, the bottom line was that neither did what they were here to do, and sadly, they paid the consequences. And even though we believe that we are eternally loved by God and that our ultimate destiny is always in his merciful hands, I think this is a pretty good lesson for us, especially when we’re having one of those days.