Let me ask you some questions:
What would you do if you knew this would be your last week here on earth? Who would you want to see? With whom would you spend your last days here on earth and what would you be doing? What would you want them to remember about you? In other words, what legacy would you leave behind?
In Matthew 21, Jesus knew it would be His last week on earth as a man.
He knew He would be facing a week unlike any other. He knew He would be betrayed, beaten and flogged, and misunderstood by many. Jesus would be falsely accused, mocked, spit on, scourged, and finally put to death by way of crucifixion.
Yet Jesus didn’t go into seclusion, nor did He pull away from the people or try to prevent what lay ahead.
Instead, He continued to be about His Father’s business, teaching those who had come to Jerusalem in celebration of the Passover feast. He continued training His disciples in preparation for His departure.
Time was short and there was still so much to be accomplished!
During His last week, Jesus continued to teach through object lessons and stories. He used a fig tree, a man with two sons, a landowner and his wicked tenants, and wedding clothes to point out the importance of His followers being fruit-bearers.
Followers of Jesus Christ are expected to bear fruit for God’s Kingdom.
So let’s look first at Matthew 21:18-22.
In this section we pick up with Jesus and His disciples after He left Jerusalem and went into the city of Bethany where it is believed He spent His nights. It was away from the overcrowded city and the hustle and bustle of preparations that were taking place for the Passover Celebration.
Jews had come from all around and there was much to do. And yet Jesus knew He and the people would face far more than they knew. So after what was probably a little peace and quiet time with His disciples and His heavenly Father, Jesus and the disciples set out early in the morning to go back to the city.
On the way, Jesus was hungry. Obviously He was in a hurry to get back to His Father’s business and probably hadn’t taken time to eat. Of course there weren’t any fast food places on His way back to the city–no Starbucks or Mikey D’s.
But what Jesus did find was a fig tree. Would have been my first choice; what about yours?
Figs were often used in the Old Testament to represent Israel, and the Jews knew this.
And because the tree had a showing of leaves, it should have also had fruit on it. When Jesus got up closer, however, He saw that though the tree had produced leaves, it bore no fruit.
It was fruitless, and therefore Jesus cursed the tree for appearing to be what it was not!
The religious leaders, like this fig tree, had given off a false appearance. These leaders should have produced fruit, the fruit of righteousness. They appeared to be holy on the outside. They knew the scriptures and they followed the laws and practices as required of them.
However, in reality they were corrupt, as we saw when Jesus overturned the Temple tables and called them a den of robbers. They were evil, as they will prove, by plotting and killing the one God sent to save them.
Jesus used this fig tree as an illustration of what would happen to the nation of Israel, its religious leaders, and anyone else who rejected Jesus and His ministry of reconciliation!