This second day of Holy week, I am naming as Fig Monday. Sounds a little silly. However figs were discussed all throughout God’s word. The fig tree leafs were the leaves that Adam and Eve hid their nakedness. This fruit was in the original garden of Eden. But before we dive into Jesus’s story, let’s look at one story from the book of Jeremiah, called the Good and Bad Figs. I think this story explains everything. Maybe even a little about what’s happening today in current times. Please ignore my commentary as I write the verses below but I’m so excited finding this treasure of words that I couldn’t help myself. Jeremiah 24:1-10
Two Baskets of Figs
24 After Jehoiachin king of Judah and the officials, the skilled workers and the artisans of Judah were carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Lord showed me two baskets of figs placed in front of the temple of the Lord. (We are Back at the temple!!!!) 2 One basket had very good figs, like those that ripen early; the other basket had very bad figs, so bad they could not be eaten.
3 Then the Lord asked me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?”
“Figs,” I answered. “The good ones are very good, but the bad ones are so bad they cannot be eaten.”
4 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 5 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Like these good figs, I regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I sent away from this place to the land of the Babylonians.[b] 6 My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. 7 I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.
8 “‘But like the bad figs, which are so bad they cannot be eaten,’ says the Lord, ‘so will I deal with Zedekiah king of Judah, his officials and the survivors from Jerusalem, whether they remain in this land or live in Egypt. 9 I will make them abhorrent and an offense to all the kingdoms of the earth, a reproach and a byword, a curse[c] and an object of ridicule, wherever I banish them. 10 I will send the sword, famine and plague against them until they are destroyed from the land I gave to them and their ancestors.’”
Wow ! Strong words from our Lord. But let’s go back to Jesus. He has entered the holy city to worship during the Passover. He knows the plan his father has for him. He spends the night in Bethany, the small humble town 2 miles from the city center. He gets up ready to return to the temple. And he sees a fig tree. Jesus is hungry.
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. Mark 11:12-14
Obviously this story must be of some importance. Three accounts of this story are mentioned in three gospels. In the words of Noel Goetz of One For Israel ” On the previous day he had visited the temple and saw everything going on at His Father’s (God’s) house. He saw the buying, selling and merchandising – the great sin of the priests who were profiting and taking advantage of pilgrims who were faithfully coming to celebrate Passover.”
Listen as she continues, “When Jesus had entered Jerusalem the previous day, he was expecting to find the religious leaders feeding spiritual fruit to the hungry pilgrims, many of whom had come to the Passover celebration to find sustenance. They came to the temple expecting to be fed, but only found disappointment. The religious leaders who were ordained (created) to feed them the good things of God, presented themselves like early leaves; holding out the promise of fruit, but they were in fact fruitless. Instead of providing nourishment, they were taking advantage of the people and sending them away hungry – just as Jesus was left hungry by the fruitless fig tree.Jesus was conveying both a prophetic and practical message to his disciples: If you are created to bear good fruit, but are rebellious and refuse to bear fruit, you will be cursed. His words were,”
“May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” (Mark 11:14)
This brings me back to God’s words to Jeremiah before the exile into Babylon. The bad figs in his story, a nation so rotten and full of horror, a symbol of evil to every nation on earth. In Jesus’s story, there are no figs at all. Their faith is completely lack. Empty. A tree that will never produce again.
Let’s be like the good figs. We can even imagine ourselves their today in Babylon as the exiles, except we are isolated to our homes. But God tells those in exile, and he tells us today, that He will watch over and care for us. He will give us hearts that recognize him as the Lord. We will be his people, and He will be our God.