SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- As Jesus entered Jerusalem the people were excited and welcomed him with shouts of praise. But, this was a very short-lived acceptance because people are fickle, and Jesus wasn't the type of Messiah they were hoping for. They wanted a political leader that would overthrow the government; they weren't looking for a spiritual leader. Furthermore, the crowd was easily manipulated by the Pharisees, who were religious leaders of the day.
- Back then, it was customary for people who worshipped God to offer an animal sacrifice when they entered the temple. Corrupt business and religious leaders took advantage of this practice by telling worshippers that the animals they brought with them were unacceptable for sacrifice. They would then sell them another animal at an exorbitant price. It was all a sham to make money, so Jesus responds with righteous indignation and drove them out of the temple.
- Jesus reminds the disciples, through the example of a withered fig tree, that they can do anything through prayer in Jesus Christ.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- Jesus didn't meet the qualifications for Messiah that the Israelites had in mind, especially when he takes unexpected action and casts people out of the temple because they were hindering the ability to get to God. Even today, people have specific ideas about who Jesus should be and what he should do. They have a difficult time accepting when the reality doesn't meet their expectations.
- Jesus wants us to do great things with our lives. But we can't let doubt get in the way. We must pray and believe that God will answer.
- Just as God has forgiven us for all of our sins, so we must forgive those who hurt us.
- Jesus was very intense when he saw barriers on the path toward God. We need to be just as serious about eliminating those barriers in our own life that prevent us, or others, from seeing God for who he really is.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- What thoughts do you have about Jesus that may not be accurate? Is there some way God is not living up to your expectations? Continue reading the bible daily to gain a more full and accurate understanding of who God is.
- Are you struggling with doubt? Have you given up praying for something? Don't! Keep praying today that the Lord will come through. And, if you have someone in your life that you haven't forgiven for hurting you, give that bitterness and anger to God today.
- What roadblocks are keeping you from getting close to God? How could you cast them out of your life? When (and how) will you do that?