Holy Week: Monday and the Fig Tree

So in my head I was hoping to write this really profound post for every day of Holy Week....walking through what Christ did this week.
And yesterday was Palm Sunday and there was no post. I tried. But it really ended up being some lame editorial on Paris Hilton's million dollar pink Bentley compared to the Christ showing up on a borrowed ass. That was pretty much my best line and the rest of the post ended up in delete bin.
So for Monday I thought I'd try again. Excpet the scriptures are pretty blank on Monday except for a small section in Matthew and Mark about Jesus cursing out a fig tree.

Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, "May you never bear fruit again!" Immediately the tree withered.
When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. "How did the fig tree wither so quickly?" they asked. Matthew 21: 18-20

This bit of scripture has always puzzled me.
Was Jesus having an off day? I mean impending death on a cross can really stress a guy out.
Did he really curse? Like with four letter Greek words and all. I mean how mad can you be at tree?
Was he making a show of his power? Which sounds a little un-Jesus-like.

But I think something a little more was going on here. I mean the guy can turn water into wine and feed thousands with just a few loaves and fishes….you think he would be able to scrounge up some breakfast.

Maybe it has a little something to do with bearing fruit. Or only pretending to.
It wasn’t the season for figs at all when he approached the tree. And although the man had a lot on his mind he probably knew this.
Even though it wasn’t the season the tree showed signs of life. Of productivity.
And after a little googling, I discovered that fig trees have tiny edible things called taksh long before the figs ripen. These are kind of like little baby un-ripe figs. They are edible and were often gathered for sale in the markets. When young leaves are appearing in spring, a fertile fig tree will have some taksh on it. But a leafy tree with no sign of fruit will be barren for the entire season (learned that here). So instead of finding a tree with the something that looked like it atleast would have a snack he found one that was empty and would be empty for the rest of the season. I like that Jesus wasn’t concerned about the fruit being ripe or perfect. He was just looking for signs of growth and potential.

And this isn’t the only time Jesus talked about destroying a fig tree:
he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, 'For three years now I've been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven't found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?' " 'Sir,' the man replied, 'leave it alone for one more year, and I'll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.' " Luke 13:6-9

And the rest of the intial verse….when the disciples noticed he talked to them about doubt and faith. Which seems like an unrelated topic to fruit or breakfast or a good cursing.

Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." Matthew 21:21-22

But maybe it does relate. This was it. They were down to the wire. This was Monday. He was leaving them on Friday and he really needed them to get it. To know that Jesus can stop a storm, heal the sick or wither a tree just by saying so. They needed to know that he was who he said he was. Because they were about to be tested. And this week didn’t really leave them any room for doubt. They were about to have to move some mountains.

There is all kinds of symbolism on the internet about the fig tree representing Israel, or the disciples or the Pharisees.
But there might just be a little bit of fig tree in me. A fig tree without much fruit. And often there is taksh ( potential) that I need to nurture and grow. And well other parts of me just need to wither. At some point we to start bearing fruit or we are just wasting soil.


nachogy said...

This is also in my spirit this week. It's time to let some things go so that other things might flourish in my life.