Tuesday in the Twenty-Third Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 21:12-13, 18-19; Mark 11:12-19; Luke 19:45-48

Judgment Looms

I have spoken the last couple of days about how fickle the crowds were which surrounded Jesus, praising him one day and calling for his crucifixion the next.  But fickle is one thing our Lord is not.  Our Lord always acts out of His perfect nature which hates sin while seeking to redeem the sinner.  Yesterday, Jesus was happy to receive the people’s praises, not because he harbored illusions about their devotion to him, but, because, if only for a moment, heaven and earth rejoiced over its King.  But today, we see Jesus’ judgment on the city of Jerusalem and the Jewish nation.  Jesus didn’t change: he could receive their praises as their rightful Lord and Savior, and also pronounce judgment upon them as their rightful Lord and Judge, and all from that same perfect and holy nature he always bears.

Today’s lesson includes the cursing of the fig tree and the cleansing of the temple, both of which openly manifest Jesus as the coming Judge.  It seems an odd way for him to begin his last week; after all, upon such a reception as he received yesterday from the people as he entered the holy city, surely now was the time to let bygones be bygones and sit around talking theology over coffee.  But Jesus is no armchair theologian; indeed, he is the very theos (Greek word for “God”) that such a discussion would address: He would not be a participant in the discussion but the very subject thereof.

So today upon returning to the city, he curses a fig tree, which served as the symbol for Israel in the Old Testament (e.g., Jeremiah 8:13; Micah 7:1).  The passage says that the tree had leaves but that it was not the season for figs.  Thus, the fig tree represents Israel as a nation that looks good but is never ready to produce the desired fruit.  And the cleansing of the temple shows the Jewish state of the day as a beautiful, magnificent edifice on the outside, but whose worship is corrupted by graft and hypocrisy on the inside.  Indeed, the very parables which Jesus will teach this week will prophesy the nation’s doom.  The leaders will not allow this, and it shall lead to his crucifixion.  But from that kernel buried in the ground will spring up a new nation of both Jew and Gentile (John 12:24; Ephesians 2:14), which is not situated in some geographical location but is spread over all the earth, whose capital is the New Jerusalem (Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 21:2).  It will be a nation not born of men and blood but of the Spirit and water (John 1:13 3:5-8); a nation whose purpose is to “proclaim the excellencies of him who called [us] out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).  And that nation is the Church of Jesus Christ.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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