Summary: The call to faith requires us to renew ourselves to God’s concern for the nations, bringing in the fruit of life, not death.
Have faith in God
12The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14Then he said to the tree, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard him say it.
15On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17And as he taught them, he said, "Is it not written:
" ’My house will be called
a house of prayer for all nations’ ? But you have made it ’a den of robbers.’ "
18The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.
19When evening came, they went out of the city.
20In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21Peter remembered and said to Jesus, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!"
22"Have faith in God," Jesus answered. 23"I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ’Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."
The story of Jesus’ clearing the temple is all about faith and faithlessness. V.22 Jesus calls for faith… but the climate in which the Jewish nation was in was one of faithlessness. These folks have entered the temple, but their thoughts and hearts were not one of seeking God. In other words, they were not consumed with faith, but consumerism “a den of robbers” robbing people of faith, burdening people with laws that no one can carry. Mindless, faithless, going thru the motions worship and prayer is absolutely useless and disgusting to God. In Is.1:10 ff.
10Listen to the LORD, you leaders of Israel! Listen to the law of our God, people of Israel. You act just like the rulers and people of Sodom and Gomorrah. 11"I am sick of your sacrifices," says the LORD. "Don’t bring me any more burnt offerings! I don’t want the fat from your rams or other animals. I don’t want to see the blood from your offerings of bulls and rams and goats. 12Why do you keep parading through my courts with your worthless sacrifices? 13The incense you bring me is a stench in my nostrils! Your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath day, and your special days for fasting--even your most pious meetings--are all sinful and false. I want nothing more to do with them. 14I hate all your festivals and sacrifices. I cannot stand the sight of them! 15From now on, when you lift up your hands in prayer, I will refuse to look. Even though you offer many prayers, I will not listen. For your hands are covered with the blood of your innocent victims.
Have u felt what’s it like to be robbed? Feel violated, don’t feel secure, don’t feel good, and that’s what Jesus must have noticed in the people who entered the temple. People were to be set free from sins in the temple, a house for folks to come near to God, a house of prayer for all nations, an international gathering for folks to know the mercy of God instead it was an in-house gathering of people with stifling laws and traditions that dealt death not life. It was seen in their true colors when they v.18 looked for a way to kill Jesus. Jesus was perceived as a threat rather than one is calling people to truly seek God.
Fig tree story illustrates God’s frustration of people who were called to bear fruit but alas, they have no fruit, they have no faith in Him, but in fact were looking for a way to take out Jesus. They were consumed with damage control to their political hopes, status, their purse strings. In the midst of this, Jesus once again call out for faith in God to be restored. He cried out “Have faith in God”! With hyperbole, Jesus speaks of the need to trust God and become fruitful again. Come back to where God’s heart is at, for the nations of this world to come near Him, be alive and fruitful, is His cry. Come back to a radical trust in a radical God who dared to choose to love the world.