Week 3 Day 16
And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching.
Earlier in chapter 11, Jesus and his disciples come upon a fig tree and being hungry from their travels, they approach the tree looking for fruit to eat. To everyone’s surprise, Jesus curses the tree because it had no fruit to bare. Jesus then goes on to the temple and casts out the people as we just read in verses 15-18. After exiting the temple, the weary band again comes upon the fig tree and now find it to be withered and dying, exactly the way Jesus had wished the plant when he cursed it.
So what does this all mean? In the story, the barren fig tree strikingly portrays the condition of Israel. In the Temple the outward profession and promise of spiritual produce was rampant, but the only thing Jesus found was a barren people void of spiritual produce. Like the fruitless tree, the nation appeared to hunger after righteousness and the coming Messiah. But behind all the religious activity, there was no production, just like the fig tree. The curse of the barren tree was eerily similar to the reality that Israel was no longer God’s exclusive recipient of grace.
The good news is that with the curse of the “tree” of Israel comes the new covenant that Jesus ushered in with his death on the cross. No longer is God’s love and grace just for Israel, but for all of God’s creation. The new promise also means that God is not about showy spirituality, but all about us bearing spiritual fruit. You may have never viewed yourself as a gardener, but God wants you to have a spiritual green thumb and produce fruit. So let’s get our hands dirty and start working the soil!
What’s one aspect of your spiritual life that resembles the fig tree and does not bear “fruit?” How can you begin to produce spiritual fruit if you feel withered?
Lord, thank for the example of Christ. Help me bear fruit and not waste my time on showy spirituality. Bless me as I strive to live for you and to work to bear fruit. Amen!