Tuesday in Holy Week.

by Chris Kamalski

Endless fig fruit (I think) at Mohale Rest and Retreat Center.

Endless fig fruit (I think) at Mohale Rest and Retreat Center.

A Gospel Reading

In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots.  Peter remembered and said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, look!  The fig tree you cursed has withered!’  ‘Have faith in God,’ Jesus answered.  ‘I tell you the truth, if anyone of you says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.  (Mark 11:20-23)

A Mike Erre Point Motivated by My Desire to Head to Bed!

  • Mike Erre, our teaching pastor extraordinaire at RockHarbor Church in Costa Mesa, California, my home church body for the past 5+ years, once made a brilliant teaching point called the teaching point as he was unpacking Tuesday in the last week of Jesus’ life prior to his death.  He called this passage a ‘sandwich’ technique, essentially two seemingly related stories or parables that were split in two through the insertion of an ‘unrelated’ aside.  If you look at Mark 11, this is exactly what is taking place!  Jesus is walking through Bethany on Monday of his last week and sees a fig tree that appears to bear fruit out of season.  On closer approach, it doesn’t and Jesus leaves having cursed the tree’s barrenness.  The money quote from Mike’s message was something like this: The fig tree gave the appearance of fruit, and yet contained no fruit upon closer examination.  He kept repeating that refrain ‘It gave the appearance of fruit’ in an increasingly urgent manner while pausing to tell the meaty portion of the story, which is the overthrowing of all those who were profiting off the sacrificial system of the Temple.  The point, loudly hammered home, was that we often live the exact same way, giving the appearance of true virtue while more closely living a life of hollow vice.  Profoundly disturbing I tell you!  Which brings us to this short sandwiched ‘other side of the bread’ passage, in which Peter astutely points out that the tree is now dead and withered.  Jesus, never one to mince words, moves the disciples’ gaze onto their degree of faith in Him in order to avoid needless distraction on the nature of a fig tree.  The point is starkly evident: Is the religious establishment actually this fig tree, disguised as one who lives in virtue while actually choosing vice?  Disturbing to say the least.

A Simple Refrain

Jesus, open my heart to what I consider to be my virtue–and expose it for all that it is, good, bad, and ‘the in-between.’

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