The Lesson of the Fig Tree

"Whoever says to this mountain...." - Mark 11:23
"From the fig tree learn the parable...." - Mark 13:28

Jesus' long march to Jerusalem, during which he instructed his followers in the way of the cross and nonviolence (see "Embracing the Way of Jesus," August/September 1987), takes Mark's story from the margins of Palestinian society to its center. Jesus prepares to enter Jerusalem (11:1) not as a reverent pilgrim coming to demonstrate his allegiance to the temple-state but as a subversive prophet challenging the foundations of state power.

This is Jesus' second campaign of direct action. In the first campaign in Galilee (1:20-3:35; see "Binding the Strong Man," March 1987), Jesus confronted the dominant order with his powerful symbolic actions of exorcism (l:21f.) and healing (3:1f.). Now Mark narrates Jesus' showdown with the temple itself and its stewards, the Jerusalem clerical establishment. Like the first, this campaign will cause polarization and rift and culminate with Jesus' withdrawal to reflect further upon the Messianic mission (13:1f.; see 4:1f.).

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