Holy Week 2022: Monday
On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.
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. And when evening came they went out of the city.
On Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem to a celebration and shouts of “Hosanna!” But in the stillness of the evening, Jesus made his way to his Father’s house, where he looked over the temple. The peacefulness of Jesus’ evening stroll, however, gave way the next morning to anger… righteous anger. Why? We get a clue from Jesus’ encounter with a barren fig tree just before he enters the temple complex. Jesus hopes to enjoy delicious figs but finds nothing but leaves instead. To the disciples’ surprise, Jesus curses the tree so that it would never bear fruit again. Of course, Jesus isn’t giving a horticulture lesson. Jesus is preparing his disciples to see the seriousness of fruitlessness (see Jeremiah 8:13). So, when Jesus arrives at the temple and begins turning over tables and driving out the money-changers like a herd of unruly cattle, we get the picture that something more is going on than Jesus’ dislike of commerce.
The temple, which was supposed to be a place of worship for all people (Isaiah 56:7), was being fenced off by the currency exchangers, who set up shop in the temple complex itself, and by sellers, who were charging unreasonably high rates for animals needed to offer sacrifices (“den of robbers”). Jesus had come looking for the fruit of true worship but found the leaves of man-centered, greed-induced religion instead. Thus, the Lord of the temple “purified” his Father’s house so that it could be used as intended. That is, until the greater and more perfect temple was raised on the third day. And in this temple, both Jew and Gentile may worship, not by means of currency or offerings, but by faith in Jesus himself. The question is, when Jesus returns for his people, will he find you bearing the fruit of true worship, or the worthless leaves of man-made religion?
Questions for Reflection
- What kind of spiritual fruit, if any, is growing from your life? What does a lack of the Spirit’s fruit suggest? See John 15:1-11 and Galatians 5:16-26.
- What sins might be hindering you from freely worshipping Jesus? Are there any “money-changers” in your heart distracting you from enjoying communion with God?
- What serves as God’s temple now that Jesus has accomplished salvation (Hint: 1 Corinthians 6:19)? What action do you need to take to “overturn” these sinful habits so that you can serve God with greater intentionality?