“On the following day”
Read the text: Mark 11:12-19
There are so few opportunities to see the anger of Jesus.
We get lulled by the images of the sweet Jesus, the stained-glass stick figure or the imagined bearded Caucasian with the sheep on his back and the children at his feet, that the Jesus with the bullwhip and raving the Temple equivalent of “Darn kids! Get off my lawn!” is weird and unsettling.
Even more confusingly, Mark’s gospel possesses this frame of the fig tree. They pass the tree this morning and the next. When the disciples pass by it tomorrow, it will be withered.
Jesus is pissed at the tree for something it can’t seem to help. But the people at the Temple…that’s another story.
Perhaps we are not to see this anger as uncharacteristic of Jesus, but the response to a world that is uncharacteristic of the Kingdom of God. The fig tree is not producing figs:
for it was not the season for figs
and yet, a fig is necessary, or at least requested. Why does the tree not produce to the need? Why does the Temple not produce to the need?
What in our lives–our families, our churches, our communities–does not produce to the need?
And perhaps more troubling for many of us to deal with: what if we aren’t to be the ones looking for figs on the tree, but branches of the tree itself? A tree that is not producing figs at a time when figs are needed. What if we are today’s money changers and dove sellers?
The key for us is to know what the Kingdom of God looks like and do that, rather than maintain traditions that do not bear fruit in the current season.