Fig Trees and Pharisees
September 25 - Nº 268 Matthew 21:12-13, 18-19; Mark 11:12-18; Luke 19:45-48; John 12:20-50
During the week that led up to the Passover Feast, Jesus and his disciples spent each day in Jerusalem, then traveled back to Bethany at night. The morning after he rode into Jerusalem on a colt, Jesus and his disciples made the journey on foot. It was Monday. As they walked along, Jesus became hungry. In the distance he noticed a fig tree that had leaves. This was unusual because it was not yet time for fig trees to become green. Since edible buds usually accompanied the first leaves, Jesus walked over to see if there was any fruit. But there was nothing on the tree except leaves. “May you never bear any more fruit,” he commanded, cursing it. Immediately it began to wither. This fig tree was a great illustration of the Pharisees and their phony relationship with God. Although the tree appeared to be healthy and strong, it was worthless because it had no fruit. The rest of that week, Jesus proceeded to point out the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. As good as they looked on the outside, their religion was worthless. It produced nothing worthwhile. It could not give anyone eternal life. The first thing Jesus did when he arrived at the Temple was to drive out the buyers and sellers and overturn the tables of the money changers. He had done this earlier in his ministry (see #219 - Jesus Cleans Out the Temple), but once again the Temple was being misused. “My house will be a house of prayer,” he said angrily quoting Isaiah 56:7.“But you have made it a den of robbers.” The religious leaders were irate and wanted to kill him right then. But they were afraid to arrest him because of how popular he had become with the people. Several times during his ministry Jesus had told his disciples and followers, “My hour has not yet come.” But that morning, as he taught in the Temple courtyard, Jesus said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” He knew that it was finally time for him to die. He went on to explain that anyone who loved their own life more than they loved God would lose it. But if someone was willing to let go of their life and let God be in control, they would be given eternal life. Jesus knew the agony he was about to endure. “What shall I say?” he asked. “‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came.” He added, “Father, glorify your name!” At that moment a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” Everyone who had gathered around Jesus heard the sound. Some people thought it was thunder. Others said an angel had spoken. But Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now is the time for judgment on this world. Now is the time to defeat Satan and drive him out. When I am ‘lifted up’ from the earth, I will draw all men to me.” Some people understood that Jesus was predicting his crucifixion. But that did not fit with their agenda for the Messiah. Even after many miraculous signs—including a voice from heaven—they refused to believe that Jesus was God’s Son! At that point, he left and hid from them.
Is your mind open to the things God wants to teach you? Will you follow Him into the places He wants to take you—even if they are painful? Even if they are unexpected? Our own agendas may seem less difficult than the ones God has for us. But following our own plans will accomplish nothing worthwhile!