From the Pastor
He was Hungry! (Mark 11:12-14)
"On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was the season for figs. He said to it, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard it.
Wow! This is a pretty harsh judgment by Jesus, considering the scripture says, "...for it was not the season for figs". It's so unexpected - shocking in fact!
This story comes late in the Book of Mark. It was the morning after Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey to the shouts of the crowd, "Hosanna! Hosanna!" In fact, it was a few days before his death on the cross. Jesus was hungry, very hungry by this time, and for him there was no sign of God's gracious kingdom, fruit. We could say it was simply not yet time.
We who call ourselves Christians know the story about Jesus. We know he came as a tiny baby in a manger; that he grew and lived a life like we do; that he came and gave his life away for others; that he died a gruesome death so that we might know the resurrection to new life; and that he will come again. We thank him for that, we are so very grateful for the possibilities of new life that he brings to us each and every day. His sacrifice for us is something that we can't even imagine.
And yet, we must try. We must attempt to enter into the Lord's suffering, his hunger, and his thirst. How many times do we hold back like the tree, come up with credible answers that are just really excuses and produce no fruit for the Lord? We must attempt to assuage God's need, God's great hunger. And what is that? A partial answer to that is in Matthew 5:6 when Jesus says, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled." And Jesus wasn't finding any righteousness, faith that isor God's justice as he drew deeper and deeper into Jerusalem, the Holy City. And I'm sure he longed for it as much as a starving person longs for fresh fruit.
I'm sure Jesus had an extreme physical hunger as he continued to pour himself out during that last week, depleting himself physically and spiritually. Yes, he was hungry and the disciples barely noticed. Yet, shortly after his encounter with the tree in the Gospel of Matthew (Chapter 25), Jesus says, "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me . . . for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, when I was a stranger you welcomed me, and when I was naked you gave me clothing . . . you took care of me, and it will be you - the righteous, the just and faith-filled - that will enter into eternal life."
We must have a hunger and thirst for God that will turn into loving actions for God. Because really, God's great love and God's great hunger and thirst is for us. For us. Spiritually and physically we are redeemed as we enter into God's great suffering, as we enter into God's just and faithful actions.
Have a fruitful journey during Lent, my friends.