Curses flew on Monday, one at a fig tree1 and the other at sordid commerce in the temple2, money and pigeons everywhere. Jesus is angry on the Monday before his crucifixion and resurrection. But what are we to make of these things?
We can summarize with one concept: fruitfulness. The temple was God’s Old Covenant idea to bridge the human-deity divide. The temple was the place that God met with his people, where they received the atonement pronounced in the sacrificial system, a location to which they could look and say, “God is with us.” Through that grace grounded relationship, God would bear fruit through his people to the nations3. But now the house of prayer had become a house of spiritual thugs. It was a place of commerce and not worship. Jesus would have none of it. He took to physical violence, overturning tables, upending chairs, and driving vendors out of the temple. Jesus carries deeply about fruitfulness.
He gave an object lesson for his concerns when he cursed an unfruitful fig tree. In it he described a simple lesson, God made creation to be fruitful. Sin had marred that original intention, bringing denarii into the temple and disease into fig branches. God’s curse and anger are on fruit-decaying sin.
But these acts were only preludes to the real remedy that Jesus would provide. After all, the money changers probably righted their tables and took up their usual spots in the temple after Jesus left. And a shriveled fig tree is just a shriveled fig tree. Jesus would accomplish something far greater. On Friday he would be bear the curse of sin, providing salvation to his people that is by his grace alone. By Sunday morning, Jesus will have risen to new life, unleashing on the world from that new life a kind of spiritual fruitfulness unheard of 4. Jesus himself would be the new temple 5 and the fruitful vine 6.
But Monday, well, it was a day of cursing.
- Where do you feel the curse of sin most deeply in your life? If Jesus started tipping over tables in your life which ones would be upended?
- Do you look to Jesus as your “temple,” the one to whom you can go, hear from God, receive pardon, and rejoice in delighted worship?
- Where is God calling you to fruitfulness in your life as a Christian?
- What steps do you need to take now so that you will be worshiping with us this Sunday? Who do you want to invite?