“Have faith in God!” replied Jesus.
it is so true
living up to expectations
is a cause lost before begun
camels still balk
and their needles
as impossibilities pile up
the only way through is in
passion beyond probable
when all is lost
it is indeed lost
lost until again found
found as prelude
to a larger loss
worthy to engage
Before the disciples have opportunity to begin an explanation of their observation, Jesus steps in to begin interpreting this strange Incident of the Fig Tree.
As well as remembering Mark’s previous work with withered limbs, Jesus’ tradition would remember Isaiah’s first message. After saying to the people: Listen but don’t understand; look but don’t comprehend; the land will be abandoned; a mighty oak cut down—the word is, “Its stump is a holy seed”, (Isaiah 6:13).
Sabin-184 writes, “In these contexts, the Markan Jesus’ response, “Have faith,” implies that in spite of all appearances, one can trust that God will make the fig tree bloom again.”
That is a lovely thought but not any more comforting for those lost to Job after being destroyed as part of a test of his faith and then replaced by new children, land, and animals.
Faith, like prayer, is never easy or settled in what it means or how it is to be engaged in any given situation.
It is interesting to compare what this might mean if the fig tree is universalized to all of Creation being renewed, or if it is only about the Temple becoming a House of Prayer, or what a resurrected Rome might be like in a new age. What faith is expressed in each case?
Mark’s language here is problematic. A literal translation would be: “Have [the] faith of God.” This is different than having faith “in” G*D. Here we are talking about that strange confidence it takes to “say into being” both Light and Dark, to live as though a better future were already present. Partnership asks of all involved that they see a better faith of the others in themself and that their faith be extended to the others far beyond their present capacity to receive it. Around and around, back and forth, this is a faith that grows far beyond mere belief about provisional constructs.