A Cursed Tree and Rejected Religion

This post is part of a series that will take us up to the Easter holiday that celebrates the Resurrection of our Lord.

Mark 11:12–19 (ESV) – 12 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. 13 And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.

15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” 18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. 19 And when evening came they went out of the city.

Jesus was known for telling parables to teach his lessons. In today’s reading, he used a visual parable to capture the attention of the people. He cursed a fig tree because he went to it expecting to find fruit, but found none. The tree was useless. In the same way, Jesus went into the temple expecting to find spiritual fruit, but found only people looking to make a profit through religious exercises. Jesus rejected them too. The religion of the Jewish people that they had known for many years was coming to an end. Jesus would soon bring and end to the temple system and the church would be established.

True religion is not simply an external thing we do (e.g. go to church, offer sacrifices, give an offering, etc.). True religion is having one’s heart aligned with God and his word. A person can do many religious exercises and still be very far from a right relationship with God. Why do you do many of the things you do? Is it because you love the Lord and desire to live in obedience and the honor him? May our worship and our religious practice always be about God alone and never a way to profit ourselves.

Lord, forgive us for when we have failed to make you the center of our worship. Thank you for your grace and unfailing love. Amen.

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