Matthew 21

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‘Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?”’ (Matthew 21:23 NKJV).

February 1, 2017

The chief priests and elders were the recognized religious authority in Israel. Yet, Jesus taught without their stamp of approval. Their authority came from men, but Christ’s came from God. If only they would have listened to His teaching, they would have recognized God’s approval upon it. But to listen and believe would have required them to humble themselves and accept His authority as Lord. Isn’t this the real problem for most?

‘And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away.’ (Matthew 21:19 NKJV).

January 31, 2017

Why did Jesus curse the fig tree?

The morning after Jesus had overturned the tables of the money changers in the Temple, reminding them that God’s house was to be a house of prayer, he was hungry and saw a fig tree along the way. Yet, even though it was green with leaves, it had no fruit. So, Jesus cursed the tree because of its lack of fruit. Was this the action of impatience or frustration because of His hunger? No. The fig tree is a symbol of fruitless Israel. They had the Law and the Prophets and the beautiful Temple with all of its sacrifices, yet they had filled the outer court, which was meant for the Gentiles’ prayer, with booths for commerce. And more than that, they had rejected the very Messiah for Whom all of these were given. Their leaves were green, but they did not bear fruit. By the end of the week, they would crucify Jesus. And before that generation passed, the Temple would be destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

But Jesus was raised and the gospel has gone out to the nations. And one day, the fig tree, which is Israel, will recognize Christ as Lord and be withered no more.

“Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it” (Matthew 21:43 NKJV)

February 1, 2015

Using the “rejected stone” imagery from Psalm 118, Jesus applied it to the Jewish religious leaders and their rejection of Him. Since they had rejected John the Baptist as the forerunner and had also rejected Jesus as the Messiah, they would be rejected by God and His kingdom would be “taken” from them. The chief priests and Pharisees did not bear the “fruits” of the kingdom. They had not repented of sin and accepted the Christ as their Lord and Savior, therefore their rejection of the Son would result in them being rejected by the Father. Even when they heard these words of warning from Jesus, they did not repent, but only became more determined to kill Him. And to what “nation” was the kingdom of God to be given? It was given to a holy nation, a nation without borders or end, to a house made up of those who accepted Christ as the Chief Cornerstone, and became themselves “living stones” in His temple (Read 1 Peter 2:4-10). Those who accept the Son, have life in the kingdom. Those who reject Him, do not (1 John 5:12).

“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith” (Matthew 21:22)

January 31, 2013

This was Jesus’ answer to the disciples after they saw him curse the unfruitful fig tree and it immediately withered. The disciples marveled over the miracle, but Jesus told them that they would be able to do even more than this through faithful prayer. How should this word from Jesus affect our praying today?

“You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it” (Matthew 21:22)

January 31, 2012

The currency of the Kingdom is asking. A child holds out her hand for food asking and a mother gives willingly. Children are experts at asking. Adults forget how to ask. And they forget how to pray. What are you asking God for today?