Following Jesus on his last Tuesday before the crucifixion and read something interesting in Mark 11 where Jesus curses the fig tree. (I’ve always felt a little sorry for the fig tree). Anyway, my ESV study Bible had this note: “Since the fruit of the fig tree begins to appear about the same time as the leaves (or a little after), the appearance of leaves in full bloom should have indicated that fruit (in the form of green figs) was already growing. Jesus’ actions here have symbolic importance, signifying the hypocrisy of all who have the appearance that they are bearing fruit but in fact are not. It is a visual…to signify Jesus’ unrequited search for the true fruit of worship, prayer, and righteousness in the Jewish nation and its religious practices.” "who have the appearance that they are bearing fruit but in fact are not" made me stop and take stock of myself. It's so easy to get caught up "doin' the thing". A regular spiritual checkup is not a bad idea.
Another passage that I could never quite understand was also in today’s reading: Matthew 22 where the Pharisees ask if it’s right to pay taxes to Caesar, and Jesus has them look at a coin someone has brought with Caesar’s picture and inscription on it and tells them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” What things? I’ve always wondered. The ESV study Bible note said: “The denarius has Caesar’s image and represents the tribute they should give to him. Jesus adds a more important command: people should give to God that which bears his image and likeness, namely, themselves.
I admire the fact that Jesus never speaks just to defend Himself. His answers usually contain grace and a chance for a change of heart for those who are in conversation with Him as well as for those who may be listening.....like me.