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Summary: Jesus curses the fig tree and cleanss the temple. (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: gcurley@gcurley.info)

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SERMON OUTLINE:

(A). The outburst.

•(1). The reason for his anger.

•(2). The direction of his anger.

(B). The tree.

•(1). The problem - Fruitlessness

•(2). The lessons – Faith& Prayer.

(C). The Temple.

•(1). Corruption.

•(2). Cleansing.

SERMON BODY:

Joke:

• A vicar was talking to one of his parishioners.

• He said

• "When you get to my age you spend a lot more time thinking about the hereafter."

• "What do you say that", enquires the parishioner.

• The vicar replies

• "Well, I often find myself going into a room and thinking what did I come in hear…after."

This morning’s passage will make you think:

• Not necessary about the hereafter;

• But about why Jesus behaved the way he did.

• We see Jesus acting ‘out of-character’ on two occasions;

• I say ‘out-of-character’,

• Perhaps another side of his character would be a better description.

• On at least two occasions Jesus got angry;

• And acted in a way which might surprise the casual reader of the New Testament.

Note:

• Anger is a God given emotion;

• Most of us however misuse our anger.

• And our anger boils over into wrong words and wrong actions and that leads on to sin.

• The New Testament says in Ephesians chapter 4 verse 26: “In your anger do not sin.”

• The KJV renders it, “Be angry, but sin not.”

• Controlled anger is not wrong or sinful it is a God given emotion.

• But it needs to be used carefully!

(A). The outburst.

Ill:

• The great Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini was legendary for his fits of rage.

• The librarian of one of Toscanini’s orchestras;

• Was particularly vexed by the maestro’s habit of throwing valuable musical scores;

• At the musicians when angry.

• Watching closely, the librarian observed that Toscanini’s first act when enraged;

• Was to take his baton in both hands and try to break it.

• If the baton snapped,

• Toscanini usually calmed down and rehearsal continued.

• If the baton did not break,

• He began hurling scores.

• The librarian’s solution?

• He made sure the conductor had a generous supply of flimsy batons on hand for rehearsal!

In today’s passage we see Jesus getting angry:

• Toscanini’s anger was often an uncontrolled outburst.

• In contrast the anger of Jesus is both controlled and purposeful.

(1). The reason for his anger.

• The reason for his anger

• Was the sad spiritual condition of the nation of Israel.

• They had religion in abundance but no real relationship with God;

• In fact Jesus often criticised them (in particular their leaders);

• By saying: “These people honour me with their lips but their hearts are far from me!”

• (Matthew chapter 15 verse 8).

ill:

• The reason for his anger is that he cared!

• Like a loving parent saddened and heartbroken;

• By the foolish actions of their rebellious children.

• So Jesus reveals his concern & disappointment by revealing his anger;

• Elsewhere he described the nation as “Sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34)

• And with tears he wept and said they were like:

• Chicks without the mother hen (Matthew 23:37)

• Jesus was heartbroken by the spiritual condition of the nation;

• We see an illustration of that in these verses.

(2). The direction of his anger.

• Note the direction of Jesus’ anger is aimed at:

• The barren fig tree (vs 12-14).

• And the corruption that was found in temple courtyard (15-19).

Note: that these two instances are linked:

• The cursing of the fig tree and the cleansing of the temple;

• Are what we call symbolic acts;

• They were visual illustrations; figurative acts;

• Showing us the sad spiritual condition of the nation of Israel at this time.

• In spite of its many privileges and opportunities the nation of Israel had;

• Sadly the nation were was outwardly fruitless (i.e. like the tree);

• And the nation was inwardly corrupt (i.e. like the temple).

Note:

• This is one of the few times (I can only think of one other);

• Where Jesus used His miraculous powers to destroy something in nature.

• First time he used his power to destroy and drown some pigs (Mark 5:13),

• He sent demons from a possessed man into the animals & they ran off the edge of a cliff.

• Second time is in this passage when Jesus uses his power to destroy a tree (Mark 11:21).

• A tree that is barren, unable to produce fruit.

• For Jesus to act in such a way,

• Must cause us to ask stop and ask ‘why?’

• Let’s look at the passage for some answers.

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