“The Fighting Lamb”
With one eye we see an isolated, vulnerable visitor caught in a trap. Our other eye however reveals a man who knows what he is doing, who is pulling the strings and who is saying and doing things that will ultimately overcome all his enemies. Only when we put the two images together do we get the full and almost contradictory picture.
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.
15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”
18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.
19 When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.
You may notice that Matthew records Jesus clearing the Temple on the same day as his arrival; Mark on the other hand puts it the next day. Maybe Jesus did it once and they can’t remember which day, maybe he did it twice! They both agree, however, that Jesus is determined to draw attention to the problems with the Temple, with worship that didn’t honour God.
In one sense, we have been ‘kicked out of church’. While we are separated is there anything Jesus is saying to you about when and how you worship?
The fig tree represents a whole religious establishment, nation, tradition that has become barren and dull and has failed to bear fruit.
The Temple represents the Holy of Holies, the very essence, the centre of power, of that ‘Old Israel.’ Jesus brings a new spirit-life of love, joy, peace, truth and sacrifice, which challenges and condemns the Old Religious Kingdom. He is reclaiming Israel, Jerusalem and the Temple for his father and for the people.
The Chief Priests and teachers are frightened, jittery and like a wild animal, they are always more dangerous when injured.
Why don’t you, instead of the usual palm crosses we weren’t able to give out yesterday, find something in your house you could keep on you all week: stone, a trinket, a cord or string around your wrist, or perhaps you could draw a small cross on your hand? Wherever you go today take your item with you – don’t let anyone see it – take it out from time to time in secret, finger it in your pocket and walk the week.