Last night, before I went to bed I read a chapter or two from the book of Mark. There are parts of Mark that are shocking to me. Particularly chapter 11:12-14 where Jesus goes to a fig tree for a fig and doesn't find any so he "curses" the tree. A few verses later we see the fig tree again, withered and dead. I'm pretty sure this story is in at least one other Gospel (but I'm not sure which one-- Matthew, maybe?)
Here's why this section bothers me so much: I have a hard time rectifying this angry Jesus to the loving one that I have always been told about. It seems like such a little thing, doesn't it? A fig tree being out of season, why did Jesus get so mad? Further along in the chapter Jesus destroys the temple flee market, his anger again very open and public. (This one I can understand).
But the "fig tree incident" gives me pause. In the Catechism most answers begin with "We should fear and love God..." in this case "fear" is meant not as "being scared," but as being respectful. But with the "fig tree incident" I get a healthy dose of good old fashioned scared fear. I think it boils down to this: that fig tree didn't live up to the expectation that Jesus had for it. He wanted a fig, the fig tree couldn't provide it. Isn't that the same way with me? God wants perfection. I'm a sinner, a result of "the old Adam" I was born a sinful being. I am damaged before I get started.
But... and there is always a "but" when it comes to theology, right? There is a distinct and wonderful message at the end of chapter 11. Jesus turns the withered fig tree into an object lesson. An example of faith and prayer. Faith: that one big "get out of jail card" that we are given through Christ rears its beautiful head. Jesus says to his disciples: "Have faith in God, I tell you the truth, If anyone says to this moutain, "Go throw yourself into the sea," and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will hapepen, it will be done for him. Therefore, I tell you whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours..."
In my reading of the Book of Concord I have reached Article IV of the Apology of the Augsburg Confession. I started to read it last night, but I was just tired enough that I was reading words, but not making a connection. This article, about justification, is key to the whole. I'll read it closely when I am more awake.
How is your faith today?