Imagine strangers coming into your home who didn’t think like you, set up shop, took over and behaved in ways that hurt people rather than help them. You’re probably already thinking, why are they in my home, period?! I would not want anyone but my family in my home! Okay, let’s go a bit farther in our analogy, what if these strangers were like carnival people in a side show who shout at you to play their games? What if they set up a store to sell trinkets of religion along with animals to sacrifice in your yard around your home? What if this yard market was not only condoned by the religious elite but encouraged because they took a fee under the tables for demanding the people to buy from these people? AND what if the prices cheated the customers who came to your house and yard in order to make more and more money for themselves? Whew, enough! What would you do?
Anyone who would desecrate your home with obscene behaviors would be thrown out. Right? Jesus drives out the evil that has come to set up shop in His House, the Temple. On His way to the cross for all sins of the world, Jesus cleans His House and curses a fig tree that bears no fruit as a way to teach yet another lesson to His disciples with the truth about the sins of the nation of Israel. “My Temple will be called a house of prayer, but you have turned into a den of thieves.” And to the religious in power over the people, “May you never bear fruit again!”
Matthew—God’s Prophecy Fulfilled
Matthew 21:12-17, NLT
Jesus Clears the Temple
12 Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. 13 He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!”
14 The blind and the lame came to him in the Temple, and he healed them. 15 The leading priests and the teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the children in the Temple shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David.”
But the leaders were indignant. 16 They asked Jesus, “Do you hear what these children are saying?”
“Yes,” Jesus replied. “Haven’t you ever read the Scriptures? For they say, ‘You have taught children and infants to give you praise.’” 17 Then he returned to Bethany, where he stayed overnight.
Jesus Curses the Fig Tree
18 In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, 19 and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” And immediately the fig tree withered up.
20 The disciples were amazed when they saw this and asked, “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?”
21 Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. 22 You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”
THINK ABOUT IT…
Jesus performed two acts of judgment: He cleansed the temple, and He cursed a fig tree. Both acts were contrary to His usual manner of ministry, for He did not come to earth to judge, but to save (John 3:17). Both of these acts revealed the hypocrisy of Israel: The temple was a den of thieves, and the nation (symbolized by the fig tree) was without fruit. Inward corruption and outward fruitlessness were evidences of their hypocrisy. God hates liars and playactors. Jesus portrayed the character of God in his actions and was led by God to clean His House of Prayer, The Temple.
What does God require of us?
We refer always back to the prophet Micah: “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8) We walk with God, do what He wants, guided by His Holy Spirit of Truth, love, mercy and grace. We won’t be asked to cleanse the temple but we are asked to bear the fruits of His Holy Spirit, the character of God. Judgements are left to God. We protect what we know is good and God will do the rest.
What are the fruits? Glad you asked!
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” Galatians 5:22-26, NIV
PAUSE TO REFLECT…AND PRAY
What fruits of His Holy Spirit are growing in me?
ONE LAST THOUGHT…
While we can make a personal application of this event, the main interpretation has to do with Israel. The time of judgment had come. The sentence was pronounced by the Judge, but it would not be executed for about forty years. Then Rome would come and destroy the city and temple and scatter the people.
Jesus used this event to teach His disciples a practical lesson about faith and prayer. The temple was supposed to be a “house of prayer,” and the nation was to be a believing people. But both of these essentials were missing. We too must beware of the dangers of stagnant, fruitless living. So, we ask God to grow His fruit in us that lasts for eternity. His fruit is good. “Taste and see”, says the Lord! (Psalm 34:8)
Abba, our Father in Heaven, Lord of our lives,
Hallowed and holy is Your very Name. May Your Kingdom come and reign in us and be seen all around us. May Your will be done on earth in every detail of our lives here as it is in heaven. Give us this day a revelation of your power and glory. And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptations but deliver us from evil and all that is not You. For you have all power to do this in us. When we begin to bear the fruits of Your character, we will give YOU all the glory, honor and praise! Grow us.
In Jesus Name, Amen