|<< Matt 21|
|<< Mark 11|
|<< Luke 19|
Matthew 21:12-46; Mark 11:11-12:12 Listen
In this passage, we see the following in Jesus' ministry:
|12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.
15 And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased,
16 And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?
17 And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.
|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.
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.
|41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,
42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.
43 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,
44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.
45 And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought;
46 Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.
47 And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him,
48 And could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him.
These events take place within the week prior to the crucifixion.
This photo was taken on March 24, 2004 by ALS, a resident of Jerusalem.
A complete annual cycle of this tree may be viewed by clicking here.
We find three different perspectives here from the Gospel writers on the same series of incidents. Matthew is the briefest of the three accounts. He gives a brief overview of the fig tree incident including the actions of both days involved into one short account which he summarizes in verses 18-22 (see below). The sequence of events regarding the fig tree obviously appeals to Mark, so he gives the details of what exactly happened on the preceding day (the actual cursing of the tree in verses 12-14) leading up to the observation of the cursing in verses 20-26 (see below). Luke, on the other hand, reports Jesus' lament and prophecy over Jerusalem before entering into the Temple. Based upon the accounts of Mark and Luke, two incidents took place just prior to the entry into the Temple, the cursing of the fig tree and the prophecy over Jerusalem concerning its destruction. Are these actions by Jesus related, or are they to be taken as two unrelated activities on the same day prior to entering the Temple. We'll look at that question further in the next section (see below).
Incidentally, let's take a closer look at Mark 11:13-14 to clear up a point of confusion:
Mark 11:13 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.
Mark 11:14 And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.
The phrase, "for the time of figs was not yet" has caused a great deal of anguish among Bible scholars. Here's the simple reality: Figs were on the tree in March, and some were ripe enough to eat. However, it was not yet time for the spring harvest of figs. You will notice the presence of figs on this Jerusalem tree in the photo to the right of this page taken in March, 2004. You may view photos of the entire fig-bearing cycle of this fig tree found in Jerusalem by clicking here.
Meanwhile, back at the Temple it's deja vu all over again. Remember back in John 2:12-25 (see notes) when Jesus tackled the corruption in the Temple. This time is a little different. He has just ridden into Jerusalem and has been identified by the people as the Messiah. The Jewish leaders are there, but powerless to do anything. Look at verse Matthew 21:15, "And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were sore displeased," Only Matthew reports that spontaneous outburst by the children and the healings in verse 14 that prompted it. This was just more than the Temple big wigs could stand. They call upon Jesus to rebuke these children, but Jesus simply quotes Psalm 8:2 (see notes) when he says, "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?" With these words, Jesus has just acknowledged to these Jewish leaders that he is, indeed, the promised Messiah. What had started out as a typical pre-passover business day at the temple for these Jewish leaders ends up with an intolerable twist. Not only does Jesus disrupt the disgraceful selling of sacrifices by overturning their tables, but he is subsequently perceived by the "little people" there to have complete authority as the Messiah to have done so.
All three accounts record the words of Jesus as he quoted Isaiah 56:7 (see notes) in Matthew 21:13, Mark 11:17 and Luke 19:46 where Isaiah prophesied, "Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people." That prophecy of Isaiah is particularly interesting in that Isaiah 55 and the first 8 verses of Isaiah 56 (see notes) deal with the fact that the temple will become the center of worship for Gentiles as well as Jews in the coming Kingdom age. Only Mark adds this international flavor to temple worship in his quote of Isaiah.
Luke begins his account with Jesus weeping as he overlooks Jerusalem, but then includes a prophecy regarding Jerusalem's future in verses 43-44. There we see Jesus detailing what would befall Jerusalem in 70 A.D. when the Romans, under General Titus, would besiege and destroy the city.
One more point should be observed regarding this Temple incident. This was no get-in-fast-and-get-out-fast action on Jesus' part. You will notice from Mark's account in verse 16 that Jesus apparently stayed around long enough to enforce some reverence for the Temple that day. Mark also points out in verse 19 that Jesus stayed in the city until "even was come" after teaching "doctrine" (verse 18) to the people. Obviously, this was Jesus' time to fulfill prophecy.
|18 Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered.
19 And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.
20 And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!
21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.
22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
|20 And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.
21 And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.
22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.
23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
Only Matthew and Mark deal with the fig-tree incident - Matthew more briefly than Mark. As a matter of fact, Mark is very detailed in pointing out that the actual cursing took place prior to entering the Temple (Mark 11:14, see above); the observation of the results took place the next day. Some deduct more implications from this incident than others. Is this a simple demonstration of the power of faith or something more? With an observance only of the accounts by Matthew and Mark, one might be led to understand that this incident is just a lesson on faith. Certainly one of the strongest declarations on the power of prayer is found in Matthew 21:22, "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." As certainly as Jesus had caused the fig tree to wither, so shall our prayer life be empowered when faith is present.
Many teachers today have linked the fig tree here to Israel. Jesus causes the fig tree to wither because it did not bear figs. Likewise, many teach, that Jesus passes the same judgment on Israel because of their rejection of his Messiahship. To others, that may seem to be a significant overreaction to the incident. However, it should be pointed out that while Matthew and Mark are reporting the withering of the fig tree, Luke is reporting, within the same time frame, the Jesus citation concerning the blindness and rejection of the Messiah in Luke 19:42 (see above) as he prophesies over Jerusalem. Within this prophecy he pronounces the total destruction of the Temple, which took place later, in 70 A.D. While none of the Gospel writers make the linkage here, it is undeniable that the cursing of the fig tree took place at nearly the same time as the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem; perhaps they even took place within the same discourse. Well...maybe the fig tree incident is more than just a lesson on faith; you make the call. Incidentally, you see more when you read all the eyewitness accounts simultaneously, don't you?
Let's add one more piece of evidence to the fig tree incident here. Jesus had given a temporary reprieve to a fig tree in his parable of Luke 13:6-9 (see notes). In that parable Jesus seems to be comparing his appeal to Jerusalem with the nurturing of a fig tree. In that parable, if the fig tree did not bear fruit within the year, it was to be destroyed. Jesus specifically references "three years" in that parable, presumably the same length of time Jesus had been reaching out to Jerusalem. There are strong indications that the fig tree in Luke 13 is a metaphor for Jerusalem/Israel and that the "dresser" is Jesus. That consideration seems to add strength to the notion that the cursing of the fig tree here just prior to the crucifixion has linkage and significance; the year of Luke 13:8 (see notes) is up. For more information regarding the expectations that this fig tree should have figs in March, see above.
|23 And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?
24 And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things.
25 The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him?
26 But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet.
27 And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.
28 But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.
29 He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.
30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.
31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.
32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.
|27 And they come again to Jerusalem: and as he was walking in the temple, there come to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders,
28 And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?
29 And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things.
30 The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me.
31 And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him?
32 But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed.
33 And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.
|1 And it came to pass, that on one of those days, as he taught the people in the temple, and preached the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes came upon him with the elders,
2 And spake unto him, saying, Tell us, by what authority doest thou these things? or who is he that gave thee this authority?
3 And he answered and said unto them, I will also ask you one thing; and answer me:
4 The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?
5 And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then believed ye him not?
6 But and if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us: for they be persuaded that John was a prophet.
7 And they answered, that they could not tell whence it was.
8 And Jesus said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.
As Jesus enters into the Temple to teach, a particularly troubled bunch of Jewish leaders approach him asking by what authority he is doing "these things." This Jesus visit has been tough on them. Jesus rode into Jerusalem as royalty and was received that way. Then he reclaimed the integrity of the Temple; now he's teaching there. A day or two have passed, and Jesus is still there teaching the people openly. I guess they figure that somebody's gotta do something. Questioning Jesus' authority in front of the people is a starting place. However, it's hard to go head to head with God incarnate.
Jesus invokes the name of John the Baptist. Here's the deal on John. If Jesus is the Messiah, then John the Baptist must be the forerunner prophet of Malachi 3:1 and 4:5-6 (see notes), Elijah. Every Jew knows you better keep your hands off of Elijah. In other words, it's a trick question. If they make an admission that John the Baptist is indeed the prophet of Malachi, then the Messiahship of Jesus is the logical conclusion. Of course they decline to answer by saying "We don't know." Hey! They were poll-driven leaders; they preferred to be the stoners rather than the stonees (Luke 20:6). They never liked John the Baptist, but they knew the people did regard him as a prophet, and he proclaimed himself to be the forerunner of the Messiah. Unfortunately for them, John the Baptist and Jesus arrived in the same package - the forerunner and the Messiah.
Then Jesus gives a parable which cuts them to the quick - which only Matthew reports. The obvious beneficiaries to the Kingdom of God under the Messiah have turned out to be uninterested if Jesus is that Messiah. Jesus explains that this Kingdom is not dependent upon their (Jewish leaders) acceptance. God will include people in the Kingdom thought unworthy by these hypocritical Jewish leaders...and they'll be excluded. In other words, these Jewish leaders aren't worthy, but the people they have harassed and belittled...they are. Here's what makes this parable and the explanation by Jesus even more damaging to these Jewish leaders: Those marginalized people (by the Jewish leaders) are listening to this exchange between Jesus and these Messiah-rejecting hypocrites. So, the common Jew who has received the message of the Kingdom of God is likened to the son who first declined his father's request, but changed his mind and accepted. Whereas these Jewish leaders are likened to the son who said he would, but didn't.
|33 Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:
34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.
35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.
36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.
37 But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.
38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.
39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.
40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?
41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.
42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lords doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.
46 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.
|1 And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country.
2 And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard.
3 And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty.
4 And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled.
5 And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some.
6 Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son.
7 But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours.
8 And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.
9 What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others.
10 And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner:
11 This was the Lords doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
12 And they sought to lay hold on him, but feared the people: for they knew that he had spoken the parable against them: and they left him, and went their way.
|9 Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time.
10 And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty.
11 And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty.
12 And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out.
13 Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him.
14 But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.
15 So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them?
16 He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid.
17 And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner?
18 Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
19 And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and they feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them.
Jesus then seals the disapproval of these Jewish leaders (including the Pharisees) by topping it off with the parable of the wicked husbandmen. These Jewish leaders understand (verse 45) that they are the wicked husbandmen in this parable. They rejected the prophets (the servants) before, and they are rejecting God's own son (the heir) now. He quotes Psalms 118:22-23 (see notes) when he says in verse 42, "Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?" That Psalm is prophesying the rejection of the Messiah there. Yes, the Kingdom of God (the Messianic rule) will not include these wicked Jewish leaders, but rather the common man instead. They're steamed, but are powerless to take Jesus by force because the people have acknowledged Jesus as a prophet. Specifically, the people believed Jesus was the Messiah. Moreover, by speaking this parable and quoting Psalms 118:22-23, Jesus is absolutely proclaiming that he is the promised Messiah...and all the people heard it. The Jewish leaders are outraged, but all three accounts end with the observation that they feared the people and were, thus, powerless to take Jesus by force.
Incidentally, in Matthew 21:43 we seem to catch a glimpse of the New Testament Believers when Jesus says, "Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." The Greek word for "nation" there is "ethnos," a word generally used to describe Gentiles. Today, God is manifested and glorified through those who have trusted Jesus Christ as Savior - Gentiles and Jews alike.
Now, is it just me, or does Matthew 21:45 strike you as a little funny also, "And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them." Hey! Guys! What makes you think he's talkin' about you?
Jesus continues with these parables in Matthew 22:1-14 (see notes) where he gives the third one in the series.