Today is what is called by some as Holy Monday. In some of the Baptist circles that I grew up in, and as is the case in several other denominations, Holy Monday (and other days of passion week) isn’t as celebrated as it is say in the eastern church. To be honest I feel a bit sad about that. Easter is the most important holiday in Christianity, it’s a day we should reflect on year round and if we can add emphasis to days leading up to it in order to remind us of what Christ did then I think that’s something we should do.
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact chronology of events leading up to the bible. Many times in our western mindset we want to view and read things in a precise list of chronological events. In an eastern, Jewish mindset the order of events was not all that important and so it’s not written that way in the gospels. For example depending on who you ask, Jesus may have cleared the temple on Palm Sunday or Holy Monday. An event that most agree did happen on Holy Monday is the cursing of the fig tree.
The cursing of the fig tree is found in two different gospels, Matthew in chapter 21, and Mark in chapter 11. Matthew records the cursing of the fig tree after Jesus rides in on a donkey, but Mark “interrupts” the story of the fig tree with the cleansing of the temple. Understanding that in eastern writing the order of events wasn’t as important as the teaching of the events helps with making sense of that. Here is the passage for today:
12The next day when they went out from Bethany, he was hungry. 13Seeing in the distance a fig tree with leaves, he went to find out if there was anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for it was not the season for figs. 14He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And his disciples heard it.
Cleansing the Temple
15They came to Jerusalem, and he went into the temple and began to throw out those buying and selling. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, 16and would not permit anyone to carry goods through the temple. 17He was teaching them: “Is it not written, My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it a den of thieves!”
18The chief priests and the scribes heard it and started looking for a way to kill him. For they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was astonished by his teaching.
19Whenever evening came, they would go out of the city.
The Barren Fig Tree Is Withered
20Early in the morning, as they were passing by, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. 21Then Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”
22Jesus replied to them, “Have faith in God. 23Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24Therefore I tell you, everything you pray and ask for — believe that you have received it and it will be yours. 25And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your wrongdoing.”Mark 11:12-25