Pastor’s Corner: TUESDAY

“Passion Week “

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. John 13:1

Passion Week, which is also known as Holy Week, starts on Palm Sunday and continues until Resurrection Sunday. It covers the major events of Jesus’ last days on earth before His crucifixion and resurrection. It is a great week to slow down and observe the last moments of Jesus’ life.

  • What did Jesus do during His final week?
  • What was He like?
  • What was He teaching about?
  • How were other people treating Him

All of these things help us get a fuller picture of those last days, and help us understand what it was really like for Christ.

TUESDAY:  “Jesus Curses a Tree and Religious Fashion Shows”

Matthew 21:18-20 (MSG) – The Withered Fig Tree – 18-20 Early the next morning Jesus was returning to the city. He was hungry. Seeing a lone fig tree alongside the road, he approached it anticipating a breakfast of figs. When he got to the tree, there was nothing but fig leaves. He said, “No more figs from this tree—ever!” The fig tree withered on the spot, a dry stick. The disciples saw it happen. They rubbed their eyes, saying, “Did we really see this? A leafy tree one minute, a dry stick the next?”

In the morning, as he travels from Bethany, he spots a fig tree “in leaf.” At this point in late spring, most fig trees haven’t developed mature fruit. But this particular tree draws Jesus’s attention because it already has a full covering of leaves. It’s an early bloomer. Its foliage signals that it should have early figs.

With that expectation, Jesus inspects the tree. He is immediately disappointed. All leaves, no fruit. All expectation and no satisfaction. In a shocking turn, Jesus curses the tree and makes it wither from the roots, never to yield fruit again. We are taken aback; this seems stunningly out of character for Jesus, the child-welcomer, compassionate healer, and storm-calmer. Why did Jesus curse the fig tree?’  Why did He cause this tree to never produce fruit again simply because it had no figs? 

False Appearances: Jesus cursed the fig tree because it had the appearance of fruitfulness, but it was deceptive. It lacked fruit. It was a false appearance of bearing figs that caused Jesus to become angry with this tree! Because the scripture is pretty clear that it was not yet even the season for figs, it made itself appear to be more advanced than the others and it made it seem at a distance to offer something substantial, but it offered nothing but leaves. It was all pretense. This false appearance, in essence, was hypocrisy and Jesus hates Hypocrisy!

The event of the fig tree was a forerunner to an even more shockingly out of character address on hypocrisy that Jesus gives to the Pharisees in chapter 23: I encourage you to read all of Matthew 23 as Jesus lays out the seven woes to the Pharisees.

Matthew 23:1-3 (MSG)Religious Fashion Shows – 1-3 Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. “The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God’s Law. You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer.

Matthew 23:13-15 (NKJV) 13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. 15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of  hell as yourselves. Matthew 23:13-15 (MSG) Frauds! 13 “I’ve had it with you! You’re hopeless, you religion scholars, you Pharisees! Frauds! Your lives are roadblocks to God’s kingdom. You refuse to enter, and won’t let anyone else in either. 15 “You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You go halfway around the world to make a convert, but once you get him you make him into a replica of yourselves, double-damned. These are not passive meek words! Jesus does not hide how He feels about hypocrisy of those who were supposed to represent and teach the Kingdom of God – HIS KINGDOM!

Jesus’ words are harsh because there was so much at stake. Those who followed the Pharisees and scribes were being kept from following God. So much of the teaching in Jesus’ day was in direct contradiction of God’s Word (see Matthew 15:6). The religious leaders made a mockery out of following God. They did not truly understand God’s ways, and they led others away from God. Jesus’ desire was that people would come to know God and be reconciled with Him. In Matthew 11:28–30 Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Unlike the burdens the scribes and Pharisees laid on the people in a human effort to gain reconciliation with God, Jesus gives true rest. The religious leaders spread lies covered in a veneer of godliness (John 8:44); Jesus spoke harshly against them because He came to bring life (John 10:10).

JESUS IS PASSIONATE about leading people to the Kingdom of God!

In His Grace,

Pastor Hamilton