Journey to the Empty Tomb…Monday

Matthew 21:12-14, 19

12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. 14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.

19 And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.

After Jesus entered into Jerusalem and formally announced His Messiahship, He went to Bethany to rest. The next day He returned and did some things that I think we need to take note of as we Journey toward the Empty Tomb and focus our hearts and minds on Christ. He Cleansed the Temple, and Cursed Fig Tree.

The first makes sense. He went into the temple and found the money changers busy taking advantage of the people. There were two things that were going on here that help us understand Jesus’ righteous anger. Historians tells us that one of the reason they were there were to exchange the roman currency for jewish currency to make their offering acceptable at the temple. Of course they did this at an over-inflated exchange rate and were taking advantage of the worshippers. There were also those who sold animals to be sacrificed. Some would travel with their own offering, but they would be examined and a flaw would inevitably be found making it useless as a sacrifice. So they had no choice but to purchase an animal from the temple. You can kind of relate it to those tourist trap souvenir shop that will get you to purchase an $2 item for 10 times what is worth.

This is the second time that Jesus sees this and takes action by driving out the those who were robbing the people and overturning the tables (See John 2:13-16). They had commercialized temple worship and Christ would have none of it! Instead he sat down and began to teach and heal those who came to him.

The second thing Jesus did takes a little more thought. He found a fig tree that had sprouted its leaves and approached it thinking to get a fig. When He gets to it He finds it is fruitless. He cursed the fig tree in the hearing of His disciples, saying that it would never again bear fruit. The tree was found the next day withered.

So, let’s look at these two events and ask ourselves, what is scripture telling us that we can apply and help us prepare our hearts to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. First the cleansing of the temple. Jesus’ actions shows us His fervent desire for the temple of God to be used as a place that draws others to the Father. He wasted no time in removing everything that was attempting to steal God’s Glory for mans ambition. I think we need to ask Jesus to do the same things in our temple. Paul tells us that our body is the temple of God (1Cor 6:19) and should serve the purpose of Glorifying God. What motivations do we need to ask God to cleans from our lives? What tables need to be overturned? What idols need to be eradicated? What needs to happen in our hearts to help us worship Him?

For the Fig Tree…Why did Jesus curse it? Because it was not bearing fruit! It looked good on the outside, had all the visible markers of health, but no figs. It was not doing what He had created it to do. John 15:8 tells us that one of the primary ways we bring Glory to God is through bearing spiritual fruit – because that is what He has created us to do! Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (Gal 5:22-23) are all fruit that Christ should see in our lives. It doesn’t matter how good we look on the outside – If these are missing then we are not fulfilling God’s design.

Today as we ReFocus our hearts and minds on Christ, let us ask ourselves two questions. One – what does Christ need to drive out of my heart so that God can be glorified as we are used to point others to the healing grace of Christ. Two – am I fulfilling God’s design for my life by allowing the Spirit to produce fruit. As we Journey together toward the Empty Tomb, may the Lord prepare our hearts to worship Him.

Read the events of day 2 of Passion week: Matthew 21:12-19, Mark 11:12-19 and Luke 19:45-48.