Summary: Discusses the meaning of the fig tree that Jesus decides to wither. Uses the fruits of the spirit, mentions the New Deal, and the Pharisees.
Mystery Series #1
INTRO: There is an old style of movie/book/novel that was called the whodunit. Though that is now an old-fashioned word, everybody does it. One of my favorite shoes on TV—CSI Miami, and all the CSI’s, use this theory. Well this new series, specifically this lesson, is going to use a Bible story involving Christ, and answer questions that can be considered mysteries (don’t build it up too high, the mysteries are smaller in nature, but make a big impact).
INTRO #2: If you really want to get crazy, while passing around the answer sheets, turn on youtube.com and type in “Fruit and Cake (Fig Newton Song)” and use this as your anticipatory set.
1. WHEN & WHERE
Jesus enters into Jerusalem, a triumphant entry just days away from his crucifixion, and was doing his daily habit of going to the temple courts every day to teach (Luke 19:47). Did he come to the temple to announce his blessings on the people? Far from it, he came to bring judgment on the very people who thought themselves to be in the center of God’s will.
He came from Bethany, a small village about 2 miles southeast of the city. He was hungry, so it is safe to assume he had not eaten breakfast.
A GIANT FIG TREE: THIS ONE LOCATED IN CALIFORNIA
THERE EXISTS THE EXPECTATION THAT FIG TREES ARE TO GROW UP AND BECOME MASSIVE PLACES OF SHADE & REST, PERHAPS WE SHOULD BE AS WELL WITH OUR LIVES.
BIBLE VERSE: Mark 11:12-14
12The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14Then he said to the tree, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard him say it.
BIBLE VERSE: Mark 11:20-21
20In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21Peter remembered and said to Jesus, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!"
EXPLANATION: Go over some specific deal here relating to the story, maybe have a kid act it out, etc.
MYSTERY BUILD UP: I love a good mystery, love it, love it, love it. I sit in awe with questions such as Who Shot JFK, Did FDR know about Pearl Harbor, and What Happened to Demi Moore’s invisible hip (the latest W magazine for women shoes an attractive looking 47 year old Demi Moore, she is airbrushed so much that her left hip actually disappeared).
I plan to show this for two reasons:
A. The Mystery will build up the upcoming question so the question seems to be more puzzling.
B. I want to point out to the young women worried about their bodies just how fake these pics are.
MORE BUILD-UP (JUST THE FACTS MA’AM): Jesus curses the fig tree. We get that. The fig tree shrivels up and dies, got that too. But, this event happens in late March/early April (they were still using the Gregorian calendar, just an FYI for the leader). Figs do not ripen until June
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION: WHY WOULD JESUS EXPECT SOMETHING FROM THE TREE THAT WAS PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE FOR IT TO PRODUCE?
DISCUSSION: Allow time for discussion here, the students will probably come up with some awesome ideas here (and who the heck knows what else they might say).
THE ANSWER: Jesus is placing condemnation on 2 specific groups of people, one directly, and the other a bit less direct. Though most assuredly the disciples saw this as amazing the fact Jesus had control over even the plants, there was massive meaning here.
GUILTY #1: THE PHARISEES
This is technical meat, so older believers get ready here. In the Old Testament, the fig tree was often used as a symbol for Israel (check out Jeremiah 8:13, Joel 1:6-7, etc). The cursing of the fig tree is symbolic because it shows Jesus’ cursing of Israel—specifically the Jewish religion in general. The nation of Israel is suppose to nourish the entire world with its love, care, witness, and more. But instead, people pushed it back into a legalist nightmare. By not feeding the world, Israel was neglecting her responsibility.
Does this mean that if fail at our primary mission of feeding Christ to the world…are we being Pharisees?
GUILTY #2: NON-FRUIT PRODUCERS
This one is much more difficult one to swallow for us. So let me put it very kindly and very simple. Jesus saved us. Jesus asks us to save others. Jesus asks us to produce fruit that could lead to others salvation. Are we producing fruit? IF NOT, THEN WE ARE THE SOON TO BE WITHERED FIG TREE.