Thrive: Jesus Curses – Allison Kentle

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Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.
—Matthew 21:18-19

When I try to imagine Jesus, I typically think of words like strong, humble, confident, devoted, brave, and loving. I think of a dear friend with large kind eyes, one who attentively and comfortably visits with me over a cup of tea. It seems strange to think of Jesus with four letter words dripping from his lips.

I don’t know how often you exercise your cursing vocabulary. Sometimes the words just pop out… like when you take a hot baking pan out of the oven and the tip of your fingers slip off the hot pad and end up firmly planted on the pan, and suddenly “%#&@ cookie sheet” is out of your mouth before you can think twice.

Impulsive cursing sometimes happens, but I don’t normally think of Jesus as the one doing that kind of “in the moment” swearing… and certainly not intentional cursing, but the gospel writer tells us that indeed Jesus did curse.

In this fig tree cursing, we don’t know all of what Jesus said. Maybe it is better that way. (Heaven forbid that we see red-inked %#&@ in our Bibles). I seriously doubt that Jesus casually dropped f-bombs like characters in an action movie. For Jesus knew that words have power. God spoke, and the earth was created. And Jesus himself was the logos, the word of God, the very agent of creation. Through him, all things were made, spoken into existence, and in him, all things have their proper place.

But in the fig tree incident, we see a passionate dangerous side of Jesus. Jesus has stepped out to dwell among the world he created. And what does he find? Just before the fig tree cursing, Jesus discovered that his chosen people had turned the “house of prayer for the nations” into a “hide out for robbers.” Damn right, he was pissed. Immediately following his outburst in the temple, he unleashed the power of the spoken word on this symbol for Israel, a fig tree.

Jesus came to the fig tree looking for fruit, and he could not find anything. Makes me wonder… if Jesus came today hungry for fruit, what would he find? What words would Jesus speak to us today?

Allison_Kentle_smAllison Kentle serves as minister to students and families at University Baptist Church in Shawnee, Oklahoma and is passionate about youth ministry. Allison received a Master of Divinity degree from Truett Theological Seminary. She enjoys being creative, reading, and spending time with her husband, Jarris. They are expecting their first child in November.

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