Rayburn says: Passover is, as Mark notes, not the time for figs. The point seems to be – and Mark is drawing attention to it by the last phrase of v. 13 – that a fig tree in full leaf at Passover time is making a promise it cannot fulfill. The point will be that the same is true of the temple. It too, for all its religious show, is barren, fruitless.
This is the only destructive miracle recorded in the gospels - and it is a picture of what Jesus would do to the unbelieving Israelites that were about to reject Him.
No man ever loved as Jesus loved. No one ever had the compassion for others he had. When he drove out the money-changers, he was but a few days from the cross and the terrible suffering he willingly endured for our salvation. No one ever came anywhere close to suffering so much or so willingly for others as did Jesus. But no one was possessed of a purer or hotter anger when his righteousness was provoked by the sin of man. And, lest we forget this, in fulfillment of the prophecy of that withered fig tree and in the fulfillment of his judgment of the perversion of the temple worship in his day, a few years later not one stone of that temple remained on top of another. It was razed to the ground and one of the most important buildings of the ancient world was wiped off the face of the ground. And now these thousands of years later a mosque sits where once sat the temple of the Lord.
And why? Because these people were making a travesty out of the worship of God and the honor of his Father’s name. Because these merchants in their lust for more trampled upon the opportunity of Gentiles and Jews to draw near to the Lord in prayer. This offended the Lord and it should have offended him. You are offended at injustice; why? Because you are made in God’s image. If you are offended at selfish, cruel, thoughtless behavior, how much more the Lord! The worldliness and the selfishness of these people – all the traffic of that bazaar – were effectively preventing the people who wished to draw near to God in worship from doing so. It should offend you when people undermine the faith of others, when they defame God’s name, and when they make light of holy things. His anger toward the money changers was his love for his Father, his church and his people in action. And his anger was also a manifestation of his own righteousness....
And just as divine wrath is the expression of the Lord’s perfect righteousness, the offense people take at the doctrine and their inclination to disbelieve it is an expression of their unrighteousness.....
Of course people do not like this aspect of the Lord’s character, his righteous indignation as human sin and his punishment of it. People don’t like the idea of being caught and punished for their sins. No one does. No one breaks the law expecting to be caught and they resent the punishment when it comes. They are confident and self-assured in their crimes and offended when judged and condemned...They don’t expect ever to have to answer for their unkindness to others, their indifference to the needs of others, their preoccupation with themselves and their pleasures, and, above all, their almost total indifference to God. They don’t believe there is any punishment awaiting them for one reason and one reason only: they don’t want there to be any such punishment. ...
You cannot take the sin out of your life, the sin that offends God and brings down his wrath. You cannot. But you can have your sins forgiven and have a new life in which the power of sin in your heart is broken. Jesus will do that for you, the same Jesus who thrashed the money-changers in the temple. Why, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if some of those same merchants became followers of Jesus Christ themselves a few weeks or months later. Admitting that you deserve his whip is the first step to knowing his love.
Monday's scripture focus: Mark 11:22-26
Sunday's passage: Ezekiel 3-4
Monday's passage: Ezekiel 5-6, Song of Solomon 5, James 2