Each post this week will focus on the biblical account of the events that occurred in the last week of Jesus’ life. Today’s reading is from Mark 11:12-19 (NRSV).
Biblical scholarship suggests that Mark’s gospel was the first to be put to parchment, somewhere in the late 60s CE. While the christological debates heated up after the first generation of Christians had died, it is clear from some of Paul’s writing that even by the mid-first century, leaders of The Way were struggling to balance the competing ideas that Jesus was God and Jesus was human. So, it seems to make sense that Mark’s account of Jesus’ final week would be interspersed with details that highlight both Jesus’ humanity and his divinity. Here on “Fig Monday” most of the attention is paid to Jesus turning the tables in the Temple, but this year, I’m struck more by the simple fact that Jesus was hungry.
Mark isn’t just the earliest Gospel, but it is also the shortest. It carries very few of the details that Matthew and Luke seem to have found in their shared Q source. So, when details do show up in Mark, they are worth paying attention to. Here, just before Jesus shows his power even over the trees of the earth, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again,” Mark highlights Jesus humanity in sharing with us that Jesus was hungry.
I come from a long line of men who get cranky when we’re hungry, so I appreciate this short story from Mark. I can’t tell you how many restaurants I’ve cursed for not having what I was hungry for on their menu. I’m reminded of the time I had a 6am flight and arrived at a 24 hour fast food establishment before!!! they began serving breakfast. My own grouchiness aside, I’m thankful for Mark’s attention to detail this Monday in Holy Week. Jesus’ humanity and divinity will be at odds with each other several times this week, just as I struggle with letting go of my will and seeking after God’s. May Christ’s ultimate example of submission to the will of God guide each of us this week and in the months and years to come.