Jesus made a startling prophetic prediction that was so unlikely and so precise that it could not have been anything less than Divine insight. He was predicting the end of an era and the beginning of a new one, which was the inauguration of a new covenant in His blood.
Jesus was still on the Mount teaching, and in our two passages, we see two contrasting events through Jesus’ eyes, which should give us pause to consider how Jesus would assess us—our services, our worship, and our lives. In the pretentious scribes, Jesus saw some things to condemn, but in the poor widow, He found someone to commend.
From the time Jesus entered Jerusalem challenging the compromise and pride of the religious elite in Judaism, the people in power rejected Jesus of Nazareth as anything but a troublemaker. The chief priests, scribes, elders, and other elite religious leaders were completely mystified as to who this Jesus was, but they rejected the idea that He was the Messiah. So, they probed and questioned Him, observed and tried to find fault with Him, but they came up short each time they tried to defame Him.
When I was in my early 20s, I read the book Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewis. As the title indicates, in this work Lewis tried to get to the core of Christianity, and I think he did a pretty good job. He laid a good foundation by outlining the key elements of the Christian faith. To do this, he wrote a small book of 190 pages; however, Jesus distilled all of the Law and the Prophets into only two sentences.
THE GREAT MISTAKE By Mark E. Hardgrove, PhD, DMin Mark 12:18-27, NKJV 18 Then some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him; and they asked Him, saying: 19 “Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man’s brother dies, and leaves his wife behind, and leaves no children, his brother should take his wife...
The trap they thought they were laying for Jesus was that if Jesus said one should pay taxes, He could lose popularity among the people, who saw Roman taxation as oppressive and abusive. However, if Jesus said one should not pay taxes, He would be seen as something of an insurrectionist, and the Herodians would run to Herod with the words of Jesus, thereby giving Herod a reason to arrest Jesus. They thought they had Him. They thought they would succeed where the chief priests, scribes, and elders had failed. They were sure that there was no way around this verbal snare, but they were wrong.
In verse 1, Mark writes that Jesus “began to speak to them in parables.” He knew they were trying to trap Him, but through this parable, Jesus was able to criticize their actions, let them know He knew what they were planning, yet at the same time give them no ammunition to use against Him, which frustrated them even further. In the end, they concocted lies and false witnesses in the mockery of a trial against Him.
There is coming a shaking in this world, and everything that can be shaken will be shaken, but if we build our house of faith on the firm foundation, with Jesus as the chief cornerstone, then when the shaking stops and the wind and waves cease, we will still be standing. However, if we have built our hope on what the world has to offer, it will not stand. Kingdoms are going to fall, and there is no guarantee that America will survive, but if we have put our hope in nothing less than Jesus and His righteousness, we will survive.
What happened next has been interpreted in various ways, and viewing this through my emotional lens, I might be tempted to say that Jesus was “hangry” (angry for what He saw in the temple and hungry in the morning). Then, because He was hangry, Jesus simply cursed the tree. However, that is not likely the case here. Instead, Jesus saw the opportunity to use this moment to provide a powerful illustration. The fact that what happened with the fig tree frames the account of Jesus cleansing the temple is significant.
In the case of our text, what Jesus has to say about prayer and faith must be never be isolated from the larger story and used to justify some kind of hyper-faith doctrine, which argues that any of us can have anything we want, any time we want it if we just have enough faith and are willing to speak our miracle into existence. That is not what the Bible teaches, therefore, that cannot be what this passage teaches. With all that, said, look again at our passage.