Fruit Inspection – Mark 11:12-21

By John Bellingham on March 13, 2016
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Fruit Inspection

Mark 11:12-21

I.  A Fruitless Tree (vv. 12-14; 20-21)

1)    Jesus’ Most Controversial Miracle

  1. One of two ‘destructive’ miracles in the New Testament Gospels (cf. Mark 5:10-13)
  2. A question of motives…
    1. Was Jesus venting ‘sinful’ anger?
    2. Was Jesus abusing His power on an ‘innocent’ part of creation?
    3. Is there a better explanation for this?

2)    An Enacted Parable of Judgment

  1. Old Testament Prophets often acted out prophetic messages of Judgment
  2. Jesus is functioning as a Prophet
    1. Message of Judgment on Israel’s Religious Establishment
    2. Enforcement of the ‘Covenant Curses’ outlined in Deuteronomy 28

3)    Cursing of the Fig Tree

  1. From a distance it had the appearance of life and fruitfulness – lots of leaves!
    1. Mature Figs were normally harvested several months after Passover in the Fall
    2. Early green figs (called ‘paggim’) were eaten in the Spring by locals
  2. Jesus’ curse on the fig tree has deep prophetic significance
    1. Fig Tree is a symbol of Israel – (Jeremiah 8:13, 29:17;  Hosea 9:10,16; Joel 1:7; Micah 7:1-6; Isaiah 34:4)
    2. The prophetic connection between this fig tree and Israel is made clear by Mark’s arrangement of material here in vv. 12-26

II.  A Fruitless Temple (vv. 15-19)

1)    Display of Righteous Anger

  1. Probably the second time Jesus has ‘cleansed’ the Temple (cf. John 2:13-22)
  2. A display of God’s righteous indignation against an unrighteous religious system

2)    The Reason for the Cleansing

  1. Abuse of the poor/ Unjust business
    1. ‘Den of Robbers’ – immoral interest rates charged by money changers
    2. Mention of pigeons (v. 15) suggests the exploitation of the poor by Temple Authorities
  2. Irreverence for God’s House – Temple being used as a shortcut through the city (v. 16)
  3. Crowding out the Gentiles  -Israel was not being faithful to her missionary mandate (Isaiah 56; Psalm 67; Genesis 12:3)
  4. Dissolution of the Temple
    1. The Temple stood at the centre of Israel’s religious and national identity
    2. Jesus was showing the Jewish people that the physical Temple was a temporary shadow pointing to something much greater (cf. John 2:18-22, 4:21; Hebrews 8:13; Ephesians 2:11-18)
    3. Foreshadowing of Temple Destruction by the Romans in AD 70 – see Mark 13


III.  A Fruitless ‘Christian’??

1)    God’s Judgment on Fruitless Israel is a warning for the New Covenant Church – Romans 11:21

2)    Genuine Faith à Spiritual Fruit  (Matthew 7:16;  John 15:8,16; Galatians 5:22-24;  James 2:14-26)

Application:  Is your life/ our Church full of leaves or full of fruit??  God’s Spirit always produces fruit!!

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