I'm reading through the account of the final days before Jesus' death and resurrection in the gospel of Mark. Each day I'm trying to follow what Jesus did and said on that particular day of the week. Yesterday I was shocked at Jesus' cursing of the fig tree. It was supposed to be bearing fruit, but it was bare - a foreshadowing of what he would find in the temple in Jerusalem. His indictment of the goings-on there was just as strong.
The next day (Tuesday) finds Jesus and his disciples passing by that same tree. In one day it has died and withered from it's roots. The disciples are surprised at this. I don't scoff at their "well, duh!" moment. When Jesus explains that even greater things can be accomplished by them through prayer it reminds me of all my surprised reactions to answered prayer. "Well, duh!", I often have to remind myself. "You did pray for that. What did you expect?".
Then I go on in the story and find the tension beginning to build. All of those who are threatened by Jesus come to him in turn trying to catch him with crafty questions. They're looking for a basis to legally get rid of him. He's God. He doesn't fall for any of it. Nor does he shy away from them and their mistaken beliefs. His time has come. He takes them on in ways they don't expect. Did any of them see who He really is? The text doesn't say, but we certainly get the impression that even if they did, they're not about to bow the knee.
The juxtaposition is stark. Jesus continues to teach and encourage his disciples. He pours into them what they'll need in the days and weeks to come. But for his accusers there are no more answers, only questions, only exposing their faked arguments. Jesus never minced words for the "white-washed sepulchers" around him, yet there is an in-your-face feel to what is happening here. His face is set on the cross. He has wept for Jerusalem. His time has come and he is not about to shy away. What a blessed Savior!
As we prepare for Easter consider your own faith. Do you wonder at the power of prayer, even though it's been promised to you? Do you feel the weakness of your faith exposed in those "well, duh!" moments? Are you ready to be encouraged? Or are you simply challenging Jesus and His authority in your life? Do you throw out red herring arguments about issues that aren't really even a part of your life hoping He'll go away? Do you have ears to hear the real answer? It's Holy Week. Good Friday approaches. What do you make of all this?