Our Christian faith and worship cover a very broad spectrum. Some houses of worship are huge and towering like the Crystal Cathedral in California. Some pastors/priest wear ornate robes. Some services are filled with ritual and eloquent prayers. All of these things miss the point and amount to nothing but “religion”……….without humble worship of the true and living God! Real faith begins in the heart.
Mark 11:11-14 (TNIV)
11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve. 12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.
We see here that upon arriving in Jerusalem with great fanfare, Jesus then goes to the temple, looks around and leaves. The next day we are told that Jesus curses a fig tree for not bearing fruit, though it was out of season.
The fact that the fig tree was out of season, I believe, is the first clue that Jesus was using the fig tree as an acted-out parable intended to teach the disciples something.
The second clue is in the Greek word, “kairos” [kahee-ros] that Jesus uses when saying that the fig tree was not in season for figs. I understand that “kairos” is not a botanical term for a growing season but is a religious term meaning the “time” of the kingdom of God/the kingdom of heaven. If you remember the beginning of the Gospel of Mark, Jesus uses the same Greek word, “Kairos” which is translated as “time”.
Mark 1:15 (TNIV)
“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
The disciples apparently were not aware that Jesus was on His way to cleanse the temple of the people who were desecrating it. I believe that when Jesus cursed the fig tree He was showing anger at religion without substance. Jesus had cleansed the temple once before (John 2:13-16)…..He returned and nothing has changed!
The point is this: Following Jesus is not about religion. Following Jesus is about our heart! In Mark 1:15 Jesus says, “Repent and believe the good news!” I saw it best said like this, “A strong, vibrant, living faith requires a personal relationship with the risen Christ. Jesus is Lord; we are his disciples. Move beyond the veneer and trappings of Christianity to genuine faith in Christ. Faith puts fruit on your tree; it fills life’s shell with love forever.”