And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples, And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him.
And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither. And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him. And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt? And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded: and they let them go.
And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him. And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way. And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.
And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve. And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry: And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.
And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.
And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine.
And when even was come, he went out of the city. And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.
For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
And they come again to Jerusalem: and as he was walking in the temple, there come to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders, And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things? And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me.
And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him? But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed.
And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.
We begin the Passion Week chapter with Jesus publicly coming into Jerusalem with crowds cheering, not at all concerned of attention He is getting, and will get from the religious authorities. He rode on a borrowed colt, to eat the Passover in a borrowed room, will make His burial in a borrowed tomb. All of these fulfilled prophecies concerning Him, but it’s still interesting that the Creator of the world didn’t own any of these things necessary, and had to borrow them… The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath nowhere to lay His head. (Matthew 8:20)
Jesus is the Son of God, God in the flesh, He didn’t need temporal physical things, yet He was provided them. It’s a good reminder that He provides those things for us, even if sometimes we have to depend on others to borrow from.
Jesus’s entry was triumphal but yet common, riding on a colt instead of in majesty befitting Messiah, with people’s every day cloaks and palm leaves ripped off the trees as His ‘red carpet’. Was this out of praise for the Son of God as it seems to be on the surface, or was some of it mocking, make way for the King of the Jews? I wonder if it was a little bit of both. His disciples and those who followed Him obviously meant it as joy and celebration, Jesus coming into His glory soon- but for so many others who still doubted and probably mocked Him here. For those who did it earnestly, they didn’t fake their excitement and happiness as they knew that Jesus is Messiah, and that soon He’d come into His Kingdom.
Notice He went straight for the temple as He entered Jerusalem, but He only looked around. Surely things must have been chaotic as they were when He finally cleared out the money changers and merchants, but this time He went about His observations quietly. While it doesn’t note His mood in this chapter, we can imagine the sadness He had for the state of things… for the state of religion that had turned from God to money making schemes.
They didn’t seem to stay long, and soon made their way to Bethany where they stayed the night. Then they headed back to Jerusalem for Jesus to begin His work at the Temple.
I’m kind of dwelling on the fig tree part here. Jesus sees the tree laden with leaves from a distance, but when He comes close to it, He discovers it has no fruit, so He curses it. I can see this a couple of different ways. He sees plenty of leaves from a distance, a good, healthy looking tree it must have been. And He’s hungry to see fruit. There are so many Christians who look healthy and full from a distance too, but once one knows them up close, realize there’s not much if any by way of fruit of the Spirit. I should know, I was married to one once, and sadly I was similar for the first few years of my walk.
This is comparable to John 15 when Jesus says, “Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit… If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned” (v 2-6)
It’s not to say that believers who aren’t productive will lose their salvation, once a believer is saved, they are saved, but there will be hard ‘pruning’ to grow healthier and productive. No, I think this could be for those who believe they are Christians but mostly in name only. They don’t bear fruit, because they were never a part of the Vine which is Jesus. They may be religious, they may believe because they were born into a Christian family that they are a Christian, yet have no idea of what following Jesus even means. Again, I was like that for a few years before I became a believer, and even then, I was more talking the talk instead of learning to walk it.
This part of the chapter also has to do with the state of Israel’s relationship with God, as they were far removed from Him. Yes, they looked full, healthy and green, but upon closer inspection, they had no fruits because their hearts were far from Him, as evident by the chaos in the Temple. Sacrifice, even on such a solemn observance such as Passover time, wasn’t anything more than religious activities, done out of obligation- but not from the heart. Animals for sacrifice were sold and bought with little regard of the condition, certainly not free of blemishes and healthy. Food and other things were sold as if in a market place. The majority of the people were so focused on religious duties, the leaders focused on power and position, they missed their Messiah! They were already withered and dead inside, even though they appeared healthy on the outside. (for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Matthew 23)
Jesus curses the deadness, the lack of fruit and the withered spirit that was far removed from the Father, and then dealt with it in the Temple.
There is more to this chapter than these bits I’ve had my focus on, Jesus talks about faith, and the power of it. I don’t know that I could literally move a mountain, but faith in Him to move the mountains in my own life is becoming stronger. Fruits develop as we abide in Him, and one of the fruits He mentions here when Peter remarks on the now dead and withered tree. Forgiveness. Forgiveness is one of the hardest things we sometimes have to do, and without it, the other fruits lay dormant. Jesus forgives us when we ask Him, how could it be that we could not forgive someone who has sinned against us, when we ourselves sinned against Him? It’s one of the first steps to abiding in Him, being a part of the Vine of Christ, and necessary for a healthy growth as believers. It’s not easy, but it is possible with faith.
Have a blessed and beautiful Wednesday all!