Holy Week Day 3-The Withered Fig Tree

Today is day three of Holy Week (Tuesday).

I am studying a few passages in the gospels during the last week of Jesus life on earth.

(Recap) Jesus cursed the fig tree on day two which would have been Monday.

Mark 11:13-14   describes the scene:

And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find anything thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for it was not the season of figs.He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening.

A little note about fig trees:

Experts tell us that in the fig-tree the leaves accompany, and do not precede, the fruit. And so this one tree, brave in its show of foliage amidst leafless companions, was a hypocrite unless there were figs below the leaves.”    McLaren’s Expositions

  1. Figs come before the leaves.
  2. Fig trees were plentiful in Israel.
  3. It would have been easy to walk from one place to another and possibly come across a tree alongside the road.

Jesus was seeking fruit.He found the appearance of fruit bearing leaves. But no fruit was found on the tree.

The next morning, on day three (Tuesday) Peter points out the fig tree to Jesus.

“As they were passing by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up.”

Mark 11:20

On Tuesday, the disciples found the tree not just dying off, but DEAD. From the roots up. Commentaries suggest the tree possibly might have been withered down to the degree like a stump which would have been a miracle (many call it a destructive miracle-the only one); a stark contrast from the day before. Jesus brings life, but he also brings justice and judgement. Believers love to talk about the love and mercy of Jesus, but sometimes we don’t like to talk about the other side of his character; that he is justice and judgement. You cannot take one without the other. He is grace, but he is justice.

If you study deeper into the context about the fig tree that Jesus cursed, you will find that Jesus cursed the fig tree on the way to the temple. Some theologians say that Jesus was using the fig tree to describe Israel. For when he visited the temple, Israel had a place of worship (like the leaves) but they did not have a thriving spiritual life (like the fruit). The temple was run over by greed. I am no theologian, but it certainly makes sense because these events are in order.

Holy Week Truths

  1. This passage brings to mind the question, “Am I a bearing fruit for Jesus in my daily life?” Jesus was seeking fruit. There was no fruit. The FRUIT of the Holy Spirit within us helps us to be producing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, long-suffering, and self-control. When we know Jesus as Savior, he gives us his Holy Spirit and it is supposed to be helping us grow more and more to be like Jesus. We hinder the Spirit producing fruit in our hearts when we turn away from God’s word, when we harbor sin and rebel against Jesus. I don’t want to look like I am bearing fruit. I really want to bear REAL fruit! Do I have a thriving spiritual life? Or one that appears to be a spiritual life?
  2. Without Jesus, I am nothing. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one abiding in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit. For apart from Me you are able to do nothing.” John 15:5
  3. Not everyone will follow Jesus. They will forever be cut off from his kingdom. Jesus said, “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.” John 15:6

This passage is a tough one.It’s not warm and fuzzy to read like some passages in the Bible. I pray todays reading encourages you or gets you thinking more about what it truly means to know and love Jesus.

 

 

 

 

Holy Week Day 2- A HOUSE of PRAYER

“And Jesus entered the temple and cast out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of this who were selling doves. And He said to them, “It is written, My HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER; but you are making it a ROBBERS DEN.” Matthew 21:12

(recap) Jesus rides on a donkey on Sunday. The people spread their garments and cut palm branches on the road welcoming him (John 12:12-16).  Palm branches represented victory. He had raised Lazarus from the dead and this had reached the ears of many people. They thought he would set up his kingdom like a normal king would do. But Jesus is not a normal king. He is the King of Kings.

Monday, Jesus, as a King, doesn’t walk into a palace but instead enters the Temple.

Why a Temple? His Kingship didn’t represent a worldly kingdom that would be run from a palace, but rather a spiritual kingdom, not of this world, where he would enter into his Father’s House.

What does this mean to us today and for eternity? It means that Jesus is King of all Kings and one day we will be with him forever and he will reign over us. It means that faith is believing the unseen instead of believing the seeing. It means you and I have a king who is reigning over us everyday.

When Jesus enters the Temple, he finds money changers making money off of most likely each transaction. Passover was the week before Easter and many had come into Jerusalem from different areas whose money needed to be changed to Palestine money. Commentaries suggest the priests could have been charging money for people to set up stalls to sell goods. Also, that drink offerings were possibly being charged. We weren’t there, and I don’t know for certain about every detail, but what we do know is what was written. Jesus was not pleased with this kind of action going on in the Temple.

He says in Matthew 12:13,…”my house shall be called a house of prayer (in all caps), not a den of thieves.

Jesus was cleansing the temple of deceit. He referenced the prophet Isaiah in reference to the temple.

“Even those I will bring to My holy mountain And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.” Isaiah 56:7

Jesus, on day two, was cleansing the temple. He was calling the temple a house of prayer. A place for worship. A place to come near to God. To be about God’s business by praying for his work and will to be done. He was calling the temple a place for ALL people to come to.

E.M. Bounds says, “The word prayer expresses the largest most comprehensive approach to God.” Prayer is how we approach God in all things for all things. It’s how we stay close to God. Through Jesus dying on the cross, we can approach God anytime anywhere through prayer. We don’t need another sacrifice. He was the sacrifice.

Another thing that is important here to consider is Jesus called it a place for all the people. It wasn’t just for the Jews anymore. He came for all the people. His house would be a place for all people.

These tiny truths tucked away on day two of Jesus’ journey through his last week on earth, cause me to remember that he came for all people. Not just people who look like me, think like me, live by me. When you go to church all your life, you can sometimes forget that Jesus can save anyone. Why? Because you are surrounded by people who believe him. And sometimes, you get discouraged when you don’t see someone come to him for salvation that you have been praying for, for a while. So yes, sometimes you can at times, forget that he did come for all people and can save any person.

Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” is what Romans 10:13 says. The Lord is a father to all men. To all people. To whoever will call upon his name.

Easter means, Jesus came for all. That his church is to be a place to worship, a place of prayer. A place we can approach God freely.We have these truths to remember, and look upon with joy everyday.

TRUTH FOR HOLY WEEK

  1. On Day Two Jesus cleansed the temple of money changers.
  2. He wanted his house to be called a house of prayer.
  3. Prayer is how we can approach God and stay close to him.
  4. Jesus wants his house to be a house for all people.
  5. Jesus can save anyone.

 

Holy Week Day 1- Easter is More than an Easter Dress

“And Jesus, finding a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written.” John 12:14

I remember most of my Easter dresses from childhood even until now.

I will never forget my sophomore year of high school Easter dress. I remember lots of dates based on what I wore. It’s sad, but true. Back to the Easter dress.  It was THE cutest navy sailor dress. Navy top with a white collar and white billowing bow. White skirt with navy blue trim. So cute!  I could hardly wait to put the dress on and get to church that morning. I think I might have even been singing the old Sandi Patti song, “Was it a morning like this?” on my jam box while fluffing my big eighties bangs before going to church.  When I arrived to church that morning, my Easter bliss swiftly sank to Easter sorrow as I turned around in the youth area and locked eyes with another girl who had purchased and was wearing the very same dress!!!!!!

Awkward… I felt.

My Easter memory of that morning became more about the dress, than it was about Jesus. As I reflect upon this scene today, I think it’s silly. But it’s the pride of life that Jesus wants out of us that gets us into so much trouble.  And we are only a step away from pride on any given day, at any given moment.

My question this week to myself, and to you is, “What does Easter mean today and everyday?” 

Easter, for many of believers who have grown up in the church, can be a time where it is easy to neglect, or become so familiar with sermon after sermon about Jesus, the crucifixion and resurrection that we miss making time during this Holy Week to think on some truths leading up to Easter. We miss preparing our hearts, guarding our time during the week to make time to celebrate the very life and freedom that Jesus came to give us.

There are tons truths I want to share, but the laundry has to get done, so I will post each day what I am studying this week. I am simply following the steps of Jesus through his last week before he died and resurrected.

AS IT WAS WRITTEN

                                   John 12:14 tells us Jesus sat on a donkey….”as it was written. “

Think about the phrase, “as it was written.” 

Each word in scripture is important, but its easy to gloss over and not take the time to think about it’s meaning and let it sink into our hearts. What does, “…as it was written mean to us?” A WHOLE lot! It means God keeps his promises. That what God said would happen, is fulfilled. It means that when you are living your life and following Jesus day in and day out, his promises that he gives us in his word, are true. You can count on his word. You can count on Jesus. This is part of the Easter Story. Maybe you have forgotten that because you haven’t been in the word lately. Maybe you needed to be reminded that you CAN count on Jesus. I need this reminder this week.

THE DONKEY

Remember another time when Jesus was carried on a donkey; when he was carried in his mother’s womb to Bethlehem to be born. And now, as a man, Jesus (God in the flesh), takes a seat on a lowly donkey and rides into Jerusalem. Commentaries say that in Judea there were not many horses. That horses were symbols of war, donkeys were symbols of peace. Kings would ride into town on a donkey as a symbol of peace. Jesus, the King of Kings, came into this world on a peaceful night, and made his entry as Messiah on a donkey in peace. Jesus, the prince of peace, is keeping true to bringing peace to the world. People are looking for real peace. And Jesus is the only one who can give real peace.

Matthew 21:1-3 says, “And when they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them, and bring them to Me. And if anyone says something to you, you shall say, “The LORD has need of them, and immediately he will send them.”

Sometimes, when I get busy, its easy to look away from Jesus and look at the world. When that happens, I begin to feel more anxious. But when I place my eyes back on Jesus, and consider how he came to bring peace, my mind and heart are put at ease. This is the Easter story day in and day out. Believers have peace!

“The LORD has NEED…”

Jesus, the King of Kings, the creator of the universe, the all-sufficient God, had need of a donkey. Why would he have need of anything? He could have anything at his beck and call and yet, he had a NEED. He asked for his need to be fulfilled. His need, fulfilled scripture in Zechariah 9:9.

Zechariah 9:9 prophesied this scene in the New Testament saying, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

Did you know commentaries say from Bethany to Jerusalem would have only been about two miles? That Jesus could easily have walked two miles.  But he didn’t walk, he fulfilled the scriptures. This need of a donkey,  reminds me God is working through all things. That sometimes we don’t understand when things don’t make sense in our lives. But, God’s providence, his working, is for his purposes. We must believe him. Follow him.

“These things His disciples did not understand at the first;…” John 12:16

Whenever God calls us to do something, sometimes it makes no sense. We are to be obedient. It’s through obedience to God that we come to understand the greater picture. The disciples obeyed Jesus even when it didn’t make sense to them.

As we read on, John 12:16 tells the rest of the story about the disciples saying, “but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him,…” God always brings things to light as we obey him. He brings to mind truths when we obey him, when we follow him.

So, as you are focused on preparing and planning for the week of Easter, focusing on what to wear, what to eat, what to do…place your focus back on what Easter means day in and day out. It’s more than an Easter dress. And yes, you may find yourself wearing the very same dress as another woman on Sunday. But don’t let pride get in the way. Remember, Jesus was humble. He came in humility to bring freedom to our sinful hearts.

Truth for Holy Week

  1. God keeps his word. Everything promised in his word was fulfilled.
  2. Jesus came into this world to bring HIS peace which is REAL peace.
  3. God is at work in the details even when they make no sense to us.
  4. As I obey Jesus, he opens my eyes to see more about him.
  5. Easter is about Jesus, not about Easter dresses.