At the end of his ministry, Jesus has a dramatic showdown with the Temple establishment in Jerusalem. The Jewish religion had gotten off-track and Christ had come to set things right.


En route to the Temple, Jesus and his disciples come across a fig tree that had yet to bear fruit (see Mark 11). Figs weren’t yet in season, but Jesus gets angry and curses the tree saying, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.”


It’s a really strange story, until you realize that immediately Jesus does much the same thing to the religious establishment in the Temple Courts. He overturns tables and makes claims the priests have turned the Temple into a brigand’s lair.


That’s significant, because “brigand” doesn’t mean thief so much as it means “revolutionary” or “freedom fighter” or “rebel.”  Jesus isn’t accusing the authorities of being religiously greedy and materialistic, so much as he’s accusing them of confusing worship with politics, holiness with patriotism, and shalom with power.


The Temple, like the fig tree, is a disappointment. They’re both out of season, sure, but when you’re hungry (either physically or spiritually) food ought to nourish. If it doesn’t, what good is it?


This post is from Seasons of Christian Spirituality.