Hope is Here / 05. Hope is Here 9 // Jesus Curses The Fig Tree - Tobi Ford-Western // Matthew 21:12-14, 18-22

05. Hope is Here 9 // Jesus Curses The Fig Tree - Tobi Ford-Western // Matthew 21:12-14, 18-22

In this week’s passage, after throwing the people out of the temple Jesus came across a fig tree with no fruit on it and cursed it so that it withered. It would be easy to get the impression that Jesus is in a bad mood but in reality there is much more that is going on.
To understand what it means to be cursed, we need to understand what it means to be blessed. Blessing comes when people submit themselves to God and say His will be done. Curses come when they grasp for God’s blessings but disregard Him. To be cursed is when God allows our will to be done and gives us over to the consequences of our actions.
In this story, the cleansing of the temple and the cursing of the tree are linked. The temple account symbolises the state of the spirituality of Israel and its need of cleansing. The tree symbolises the fate of their fruitlessness, as God often spoke about Israel as a fig tree. The people didn’t really want God and their constant unrepentant behaviour led to ‘God’s fig tree’ being cursed. He would ultimately remove His protection from around them and allow foreign nations to come in and devastated them. We see this happen 37 years later when the temple was destroyed by the Romans. God allowed this to happen because the people did not practise what they preached and this led to great fruitlessness.
This passage comes as a warning. God is not to be mocked, He can’t be fooled and you can’t honour Him with your lips and not your life. This will lead to the same fate as the fig tree when judgement day comes.
However, we can read this as good news as it opens up a new way for us to relate to God. When He cursed the tree, He grafted in new branches and created the worldwide church. In the old testament there was only one temple in one place for one group of people but in the new testament we were given Jesus, who is our new way to meet with God and now the temple of God is spread throughout the whole earth.
Jesus said, ‘“Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen.’ Here He is not just making a general point, He is speaking prophetically about the temple (which was situated on a mountain) and the ‘mountain’ of religion, which will ultimately be destroyed.
There is an irony here because in speaking this way it’s almost like Jesus is being the messiah against His people instead of for them. The people were hoping that He would come to take on the oppression of the Romans, but He first wanted to take on the religious oppressors: the religious leaders.
Sometimes the most pressing issues are internal rather than external and Jesus often wants to deal with the internal first. This is important to remember when we go through difficult things because Jesus will allow trials to come upon us and last longer than we care for, but in doing this He is cleansing the temple of our hearts so that we can be fruitful.
An interesting point to note is that there were 37 miracles in the bible and countless more that were not recorded. Of these 37, only one was destructive. This says a lot about Jesus, He was tough on the proud, but He was tender to the weak and sinful. These people received much blessing. Similarly today, if you are sinner Jesus wants to bestow blessings upon you, starting with the forgiveness of sins. He is so intent on blessing you that He was willing to curse Himself and die on the cross, taking our punishment so that we receive the blessing of His perfect, sinless life.

Don’t grasp for blessings but disregard God.
Remember in difficult seasons that Jesus is cleansing your heart so that you can be more fruitful.
Come to Jesus, He wants to bless the weak and sinful.

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