“Like a tree with many leaves yet no fruit, the religious hypocrite displays to the world many impressive activities of devotion and self-denial, but under the leaves of external religion the Lord sees that there are no fruits of Christian love for God and man, joy in the Lord, or peace by Christ’s blood” — Commentary: Family Christian Bible Guide.
#RadicalWords – Matthew 21:18-19 (ESV)
18 In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry.19 And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.
As Jesus was returning to Jerusalem after spending the night again in Bethany, He rebuked the fig tree for its “false-advertisement” displaying leaves but no delicious fruit. This rebuke and eventual withering of the tree is a forecast of the coming judgement on an “unfruitful” Israel. In addition, this symbolism is extended to all future believers is Christ – That genuine faith, true living faith, requires one to bear fruit in their life, not simply maintain the outward appearance of religiosity.
#RadicalWords – Mark 11:15-17 (ESV)
15 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. 16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 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.”
Jesus was so angered by the desecration of the Holy Temple by the money changers, tax collectors, and merchants selling animals for sacrifice that he wove some small cords into a whip which he thrashed about as he made his way through the temple knocking over the tables and chasing out the “thieves.” Many of the disciples and others present were amazed by Jesus bold-action and his teaching in the temple. The chief priests on the other hand feared him due to his popularity with the people – this intensified their plot to destroy Jesus.
#RadicalMen – As we progress through this Holy Week, please take a few minutes to meditate on these scriptures and respond to the following questions:
- In your walk with Christ, are you experiencing “true, living faith” or mere outward religiosity? What spiritual fruit is Christ producing in you?
- Just as Jesus cleansed the Temple, does your heart need “cleansing” or purification from attitudes or behaviors that are serving to diminish your relationship with God?