Jesus curses the fig tree: Matthew 7:19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Jesus cleanses the temple: Isaiah 56:7 these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
11 And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve. 12 And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry: 13 And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. 14 And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.
Fruit tree growers know that ordinarily a small amount of fruit ripens prior to the main crop. It is referred to as the first ripe fruit or the firstfruits. When Jesus approached the tree, it was the time of the firstfruits of figs, but it was not yet time for the main harvest. Maybe this means that the particular tree on which Christ expected to find figs was barren, because it had no figs on it at all. It did not fulfill its purpose, and Jesus simply eliminated an unproductive tree, not with an ax or a saw, but by faith.
Maybe Jesus used this incident to teach His disciples—and US—that the outward appearance does not count with God. Instead, what really counts is whether or not one produces godly fruit in his or her life.
15 And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; 16 And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. 17 And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves. 18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine. 19 And when even was come, he went out of the city.
Why did Jesus clear the temple? We have to remember that He was just there yesterday. He was ignored. Rejected as King and Savior – quite the contrast to the praises He received from the common people as He entered the city. So, as it says, “He observed all things round about”.
What did He see?
My personal belief is that He saw merchants in partnership with the religious leaders and authorities using the church as a way to make a profit by exploiting the Word of God concerning salvation. (they were selling fake salvation)
So, let’s look at how these short stories “stack” together and act as blocks to build a larger overreaching story.
The King, who has salvation comes as foretold in prophesy. Those who need and want salvation were waiting and watching for this King, and they knew Him when they saw Him. And they respond accordingly. Jesus is an eternal King, with real, eternal salvation. So, He goes to church, where He should have been received and praised all the more. But here He finds people who don’t want real salvation. They are busy corrupting the church with buying and selling of fake salvation through their own power and authority. So, the King, with real salvation leaves quietly and comes back the next day.
On the way back to church, He teaches His followers a lesson in the barren fig tree about how people who only appear to be godly but don’t really produce godly fruit with their lives will ultimately be cut out of the Kingdom because God looks past the external and sees what is inside of us all. When He reaches the corrupted church this time, the King with real salvation brings His teaching to reality by cutting out the merchants and leaders who are selling (and buying) fake salvation. (corrupted fruit, bad fruit – no fruit).
Then He sat down and began teaching the ones who remained. Other gospel accounts say he also healed many while he was there that day. Those who had been called out, rebuked, and even cast out as barren fig trees, could only stand in the background and try to find a way to destroy this King because He had taken away their power and authority – and their way of life.
Jesus is the the Prince of Peace. The Savior. He is the Lord. He is the King of kings, who has real salvation. In order give Him the praise He deserves, we have to accept Him and follow Him. If we accept Him and follow Him, we receive real salvation and we will produce good fruit in our lives. But we need to understand ahead of time that real salvation and good fruit means that we surrender everything, even the most important things, to Him.
Some of us will do that because we seek real salvation. But some of us will reject Him. Some of us have the outward appearance of righteousness and fruitful lives, but on the inside we are not really interested in real salvation. It costs too much.
Which one are you?