The Temple and the Fig Tree

Today we will be studying the day after Palm Sunday, Monday, where Jesus teaches us through clearing the temple and cursing a fig tree, let’s read what scripture has for us today in Matthew 21:12-22.

Jesus at the Temple

12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’[a] but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’[b]

14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.

16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.

“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,

“‘From the lips of children and infants
    you, Lord, have called forth your praise’[c]?”

17 And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.

Jesus Curses a Fig Tree

18 Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 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.

20 When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked.

21 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

In this week Jesus is going to teach us so much and he doesn’t waste anytime! It is to my understanding that the incident with the fig tree happened on his way to the temple. Jesus uses this fig tree as a parable, in action.

As you read this about the fig tree, what were your first thoughts? What do you think he is trying to teach us here?

I think what He is really doing here is trying to show us our hearts, that from the outside we can look like great Christians/believers, but are we bearing the fruit of a believer?

Think about fruit bearing… do you know what Jesus would be talking about with this? We can reference Galatians 5:22-23 to see what fruits true followers of Christ should bear naturally: love, joy, peace, forebearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. No one is perfect and these “fruit” can be hard sometimes to show, but what He is teaching here is that as we grow in relationship with him, our fruits will start to be more and more evident because we are in closer relationship with Him. Have you ever noticed when you and God are disconnected that you start to show more of the opposite of these fruits? What fruit do you need to come to Jesus with in order to bear more of it today?

Jesus doesn’t stop there today and I have to admit, our highlighted verses today, 21 and 22, I think we as believers can get confused by this because we know God isn’t magical, we know that not every one of our prayers has been answered in the way we thought they should be. Our application helps us out here. It tells us “Jesus, of course was not suggesting that his followers use prayer as “magic” and perform capricious (given to suddenly) ‘mountain-moving’ acts. Instead he was making a strong point about the disciples’ (and our) lack of faith.” Did you notice key three words in verse 21?

It says “do not doubt”, and I think this is a huge indicator for us and what he was teaching in this message. If we are doubting that things are possible, we are doubting in God, in our faith. We can get caught up in our own desires, only knowing the things that seem humanly possible, so instead of treating God as all mighty and powerful, we put God in the same “human” box, if we doubt that things are possible, this reflects our faith and our connection to him. Like all things, I see that phrase very intentionally placed here. Jesus ends the fig tree story talking about prayer, but we need to be careful here too, He isn’t saying he is a genie and you ask and he grants your wishes. Friends, only God knows the bigger picture the whole picture. Think about some things you prayed for, maybe when you were younger, what if he answered all those prayers we prayed, that we thought were good, but he knew better, how different would your life look today?

He has a will for our lives and sometimes our requests aren’t going to line up with His plan. We get some good insight here from our application as well, “God does not grant requests that would hurt us or others or that would violate his own nature or will. Jesus’ statement is not a blank check. To be fulfilled, our requests must be in harmony with the principles of God’s kingdom. The stronger our belief, the more likely our prayers will be in line with God’s will, and then God will be happy to grant them.” But not all prayers are going to be answered, my mind goes to sickness, disease even death, when we pray over these things, but we don’t see them answered in the way we prayed, we question his goodness, but this scripture allows us to see that he is still good, the situation isn’t, but He is and He will be there to help walk us through it. Jesus perfectly ties this all together. If we are in line with God, following Jesus, we will be bearing fruit, we will be in prayer, not doubting God, but trusting in Him, our requests will more likely be in line with the path he has us on and not ones that are trying to change his plan. What mountain are you facing? What doubts are you holding back? Has some of the fruit you once beared shriveled up because of this doubt?

Stay with me because we need to go with Jesus to visit this temple now. This temple was set up with merchants and what were called money changers (people who took other areas currency and turned it into their own) This particular time (this is the second time Jesus goes to the temple and clears it out -John 2: 13-17) Jesus seeing their booths set up in the temple courts, an area of the temple that was there for people to go and worship God, and he tells them in verse 13 that they are making what is supposed to be holy, a place of deception. You see people would come here from all over the world to worship God. But our application tells us that “the merchants sold sacrificial animals at high prices, taking advantage of those who had come long distances. The money changers….often deceived [those] who didn’t know the exchange rates. Their commercialism in God’s house frustrated people’s attempt at worship.” I can picture this, can you? You go to this temple, with the hope of experiencing God, but all these people are in the way, trying to get you to buy from them, deceiving you with their currency exchange, that is super frustrating and no wonder why our application goes on to tell us that this angered Jesus. After kicking these merchants out, Jesus goes on to heal those in need, and the chief priests watch Him. How did they react? Look to verse 15. Scripture tells us they see kids shouting that word “Hosanna” again, and these chief priests were “indignant”; this means they were angry and annoyed by it, instead of trying to learn from Him, to accept his miracles and accept Him as their savior too, they chose opposition, jealousy and annoyance. Is there something that is interfering with you worshipping God? Something from accepting Him fully as your Lord and Savior? Write about it today. And we will pick up right here tomorrow where we see those same religious authorities question Jesus the following day.

Heavenly Father, thank you for our reading today, thank you for the time that Jesus always took so that we could learn. I pray you help guide us into a closer relationship with you, one of prayer, without doubt, so that we can be fruit bearers and a better reflection of you. Help us to trust in your plan and when you are all we have to cling onto, help our hearts to let that be enough. I pray you remove distractions that are keeping us from worshipping you Lord, that we can love you with all our soul, heart and mind. Help our minds to focus on the things above, not on the distractions of this world around us, help us to remember these lessons when the world is screaming at us to change our thoughts and when things get in the way of you, I pray you remove the roadblocks that are keeping us from you. Thank you for this day, these messages Jesus, YOU, gave us! It’s in your loving, joyful, peaceful, kind, faithful and gentle name we pray, AMEN!

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