Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.
What Does this Passage Say?
- We are now entering the final week of Jesus life. It is a tremendous week for Jesus. It begins on Sunday with Jesus entering Jerusalem to the joy and praise of the crowds. Jerusalem is buzzing with activity. It is the week of Passover. Jews from all over the world are in town. It is an exciting time to be in the city.
- Jesus approaches Jerusalem from Bethpage on the Mount of Olives. As Jesus rides down the Mount of Olives on a borrowed donkey (another instance Matthew reminds us was predicted by the prophets) people lined the streets with their bodies and made a carpet from palm branches and their own personal robes. They are really giving Jesus the royal treatment as He comes into this royal city. Not only do they physically pamper Jesus, they also shout praise upon Him. It is striking how different the beginning of this weak is from what will happen at the end of the week.
- In Luke we will read how Jesus paused on the Mount of Olives before entering Jerusalem. From here Jesus can see the Temple as the most prominent building in Jerusalem. Luke 19:41-44 will tell us that Jesus cries for the Jews. They have been God’s chosen people for a long time, but they are about to reject Jesus and His mission. This breaks Jesus heart. Now back in Matthew Jesus enters Jerusalem during the week and is upset by what the Temple had become. God intended it to be a place of worship, but man made it a place of sin and impure hearts. Jesus is driven by anger … anger is an emotion, emotions by themselves are not wrong, it is what we do when angry that is sinful … to cleanse the Temple. Just how vile the Temple was is illustrated in the hatred of the Pharisees present.
- This last week of Jesus life He will do some powerful teaching to the crowds and to His disciples. One lesson is with the fig tree. When a tree has leaves it is to a point in the growth cycle that fruit should be growing. While it was not the time for ripe figs, it should have figs. The tree was deceiving. Maybe it grew in poor soil. Maybe something was done that would keep it from having figs that year. For whatever reason, the tree looked healthy, but in reality it was not, it had no figs. Jesus causes this fig tree to wither and die. What an amazing example of the Pharisees. They looked good on the outside, but on the inside they were dead. Like the tree they were deceiving. Jesus is now able to teach His disciples to have real faith.
- Jesus is done with the Pharisees. He is not done with men. He is not done with His disciples. He is not done with the hurting. He is not done with those He came to save. But He is done with those who are trying to trap Him. Time is short. There is less than a week before His death. By asking a difficult question, He is beginning to silence the Pharisees and set the stage for His death. They knew what was right, but did not live it. The tax collectors, the prostitutes, the common every day sinners did not at first accept what was right, but eventually wised up and accepted what was right. To these, Jesus has compassion and is turning to them!
What is this passage teaching?
- This entire passage deals with a false sense of reality. Jesus approach to Jerusalem had a feel of a royal king ridding into a royal city. The Temple looked like a place of worship, but in reality was a place of sin. The fig tree looked like it would provide a tasty treat, but it was only fooling with no figs even growing. The Pharisees looked like they loved God and followed Him, but on the inside their hearts were bent on evil and power and greed. The one son looked good, saying he would work for his father but never did so. The other son turned him down, but thought better, and went to work. The landowner did something nice for his neighbors, they were evil in return. They rejected the gift; they rejected the heir, and allowed their greed to win. In just a few days, the Pharisees, while looking good and noble, will lead the charge to crucify Jesus.
How can I apply this passage to my life?
- How often do we allow the outside to put on a false showing? Maybe it’s on Sunday morning. Life just is not going well. But you show up to church with a smile on your face, and when asked you say everything is great. Maybe that’s not sin, but you know you are fooling everyone. Maybe you are missing a chance for a blessing. Maybe you look like you have your life in order. You talk a good game about what you are reading in the Bible. You share that you pray and worship and volunteer and even read this blog each day. But when you are home alone you are surfing trash on the internet. You in your own way have allowed yourself to become a Pharisee. It’s time to stop it. It is time to remove the foolish covering and be real. Share your hurts. Share you struggles. Be honest about it. It is not until honesty is shared that real growth and healing and strength will prevail.