“In the morning”
Read the Text: Mark 11:20-13:37
The dead fig tree, the confrontations, the teachings make Tuesday a really full day.
In the morning, the Temple authorities confront Jesus with a simple question.
By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?
Perhaps we should forgive their lack of faith. Jesus did just make a mess of the Temple and the rumors swirling about Him would certainly seem threatening.
The Jesus Movement is actually all about authority.
If we recognize how Jesus challenged their understanding of authority on Sunday and again on Monday and then witness the fig tree “withered away to its roots” we may see that we, as the disciples, are the witnesses. The Temple authorities aren’t the intended witnesses. Their question of Jesus’s authority has already been answered. Many times over, including that very morning.
The questions in the Temple, each one dealing with authority–hierarchical authority in particular. Notice the words: slave, respect, teacher, emperor, whose wife (ownership), greatest commandment.
Jesus’s response to this assault is to turn the mirror on their hypocrisy. His own teachings speak of warning–“They devour widows’ houses”–and then humility. A poor woman giving.
Yes, this is a story of Jesus’s authority. But Jesus directs everyone to see that His authority is not the open question. Every thing He is doing is about GOD’s authority.
From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. (Mark 13:28-31)
Again, the figs. But now, new life. Life that may finally meet the needs of the world. The real authority is not hierarchy or power, it will be shown soon. Authority shown through love and humility.
[This is Part 3 of a series of meditations for Holy Week. If you haven’t, you might want to start from the beginning.]