Mark 11:1-25 — the coming of Jesus to Jerusalem is surrounded with great festivity, with crowds rejoicing and waving palm branches and singing Hosanna – which means “save us” – and welcoming Jesus as their King. They see Jesus as a deliverer but the Gospels indicate that they don’t realise that Jesus has come to deliver us from our greatest problem: sin. The crowds want deliverance from the Roman occupiers but Jesus has come to bring deliverance from sin and unbelief.
The passage has an ominous tone because once Jesus has arrived, he enters the temple courts and has a careful look around. This reminds us of Genesis 18 where the Lord and 2 angels spoke with Abraham and went down to carefully investigate if Sodom and Gomorrah were as bad as the outcry had said. God’s judgement is always just and based on evidence. The subsequent actions of Jesus, who curses the fig tree and clears the temple, shows that He is not impressed with the religious life of Israel.
The nation has become corrupt and this is confirmed by the fact that the leaders plot to kill Jesus. They reject Jesus and so reject God. Their religious life should be about listening to and obeying God and yet they reject the one He has sent. The fig tree is a rich symbol of Israel and when Jesus curses the fig tree, He is declaring that the nation of Israel is barren and spiritually and morally bankrupt. The clearing of the temple indicates that great change is needed and that the old temple is no longer needed because Jesus will be the place of sacrifice for sin. Finally, Jesus urges us to have faith in God.
God’s Blessing David O’Mara