Summary: Jesus curses the fig tree and cleanss the temple. (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
(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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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).
• 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).
• 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.