I don’t give a fig
Holy Week and Creation: a comparison
God’s third love song for his creation
40 Blogs of Lent: Day 36
The first chapter of the Book of Genesis is theology, but not theology as we know it. It is not the theology of learned people using the academic language for academic people, nor is it a historical account. It is certainly not science. What it is is a statement of God of his love for the universe he created. “God saw that it was good.”
This is God’s love song for creation.
There is a correlation with the events of Holy Week, from Jesus entering into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to being in the tomb on the following Saturday. It is not a perfect correlation, but there is enough similarity to make looking at it interesting. The events of Holy week fall into line with the love song of God for creation.
This is Jesus’ love song for the earth.
God brings light, God separates the good from the bad and God brings life. That fruits form with nothing to eat them is not a problem, this is not the history of creation, this is God’s love song for creation. In listening to God’s song we learn a lot about God, the bringer of life.
Life is contagious. Plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit have within them the potential to create more life of that kind are then the bringer of life to those who eat the seed. The third love song is about life, an abundance of life.
Fig Rolls, fig paste enclosed in pastry, are sold in the biscuit aisle of supermarkets despite not being biscuits (see also Jaffa Cakes). They were a feature of my childhood, being amongst the first to be eaten when the packets were opened. Fig rolls were my only exposure to figs as a child other than in school RI lessons, (RI, Religious Instruction was a compulsory part of British schooling).
On the second and third days of Holy Week Jesus had encounters with a fig tree. Day two he was hungry and looked for food, but the fig tree, which bears fruit between August and October, did not have any fruit on around the time of the vernal equinox. Why should it? But Jesus curses the tree.
The next morning the tree had withered. Jesus, the creator of life is able to take it back. As Job said many centuries before, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21.
There are people feeling cursed. Limits on personal freedom imposed by governments due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, not being able to congregate with friends, sporting fixtures cancelled and not being able to travel are making them feel low and depressed, even angry. God does not want to curse us, Jesus used the fig tree as an example of what can happen if we constantly ignore God.
God promises to be with those who follow him, but the route does not escape pain it goes through the pain. The way of God took Judah through exile, the way of God took God himself in human form through the cross.
In scripture, the fig tree is often used as a symbol for the nation of Israel. Jesus cursing the tree is a symbolic of Israel failing to bear fruit, Israel was supposed to be a beacon of God’s love to the surrounding nations, but instead of showing God’s forgiveness were bearing grudges against the Gentiles. Repentance and forgiveness were key parts of Jesus’ teaching. In commenting on the fig tree he talks of forgiveness, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
Repentance and forgiveness are central to the nature of God. If we fail to repent or fail to forgive we are cutting ourselves off from the love of God. Pray now, ask God to show you if there s any lack of forgiveness or resentment that are coming between ourselves and him, or between ourselves and other people. Do you need to contact someone to fold out a metaphorical hand of friendship?
9 And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth,[d] and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
20 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21 And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” 22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea’, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
Mark 11:20–25 ESVUK