This past weekend at Eastbrook, we continues our preaching series entitled “Scandalous Jesus,” that parallels our journey of Lent. This week, I turned our attention to three episodes within Jesus’ time in and aroundJerusalem. The first is Jesus’ overturning of tables in the Temple, a sort of enacted parable about purification and rededication of the Temple (Matthew 21:12-17). The second is a somewhat strange encounter between Jesus and a fig tree (Matthew 21:18-22). The third is Jesus’ conversation with a group of chief priests and elders of the people about Jesus’ authority, which Jesus connects with the identity and authority of John the Baptist (Matthew 21:18-27).
This message is from the ninth part of our longer journey through the Gospel of Matthew, which includes “Family Tree,” “Power in Preparation,” “Becoming Real,” “The Messiah’s Mission,” “Stories of the Kingdom,” “Who Do You Say I Am?“, “‘Tis the Reason,” and “Jesus Said What?!“
“Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, ‘May you never bear fruit again!’ Immediately the tree withered.” (Matthew 21:19)
Jesus Overturning Tables (21:12-17)
Jesus enacts a symbolic purification of the Temple
Jesus heals and is acclaimed as the Son of David
Jesus is a prophet but, even more, the Messiah
Jesus Condemning a Fruitless Tree (21:18-22)
The fig tree with abundant foliage
The fruitless fig tree and the desire of God
Jesus reveals the death of fruitless religion
Jesus Poses a Question (21:23-27)
Jesus questioned in the Temple Courts
Jesus’ question of the questioners
Jesus is a prophet with authority and honor beyond their expectation
Entering the Doorway Jesus Opens
From cluttered religion to true prayer
From fruitless religion to fruitful faithFrom self-protective questions to heartfelt worship
This week dig deeper in one or more of the following ways:
- Memorize Matthew 21:13 or 21:21
- Draw, ink, or paint all or part of Matthew 21:12-27. As you depict these scenes or episodes in your own way, take time to talk with God about what He is speaking to you.
- Consider watching some version of the life of Jesus on film, such as The Jesus Film or The Chosen, as a means for putting visuals to the stories of this passage. What did you learn through seeing and hearing these passages?