It was now the final days of
Jesus’ ministry on earth. Five days before his arrest during the Passover (cf.
Jn 12:1,12), Jesus entered Jerusalem.
He had been in the city before (cf. Lk 2:43; Jn 5:1), but never with such
fanfare. People welcomed Him as their king and savior. In this passage, Jesus
showed us how to be put to good use for God’s work.
“The Lord has need of it” (11:3).
Did You Know…?
Jerusalem (11:1): Herod the Great had restored
much of the city’s former magnificence. He built a vast palace and rebuilt its
fortresses, amphitheater, and temple.
Bethphage (11:1): Literally, “House of Unripe
Figs.” It is not mentioned in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, it is
mentioned only in connection with Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. It was located
close to Bethany, on the Mount of Olives, between Jerusalem and Jericho. No
trace of it remains today.
Bethany (11:1): Literally, “House of Dates,”
referring to the palm trees that grew there. A village on the eastern slope of
the Mount of Olives, about two miles from Jerusalem and the final station on
the road from Jericho to Jerusalem.It was the home of Martha, Mary,
and Lazarus (cf. Jn 11:1), and became the base of Jesus’ ministry in Judea (cf.
Mk 11:11-12; 14:3).
Colt (11:2): A young donkey. Jesus rode on a
colt to fulfill the prophecy recorded in Zech 9:9 (Jn 12:14-16).
Branches (11:8): These were palm branches (cf.
Jn 12:13). A palm branch was associated with rejoicing (cf. Lev 23:40). It also
symbolized the “head,” the highest of the people (cf. Isa 9:14). Later, it
represented triumph and victory. In the New Testament, the apostle John
witnessed a vision of all people holding palm branches, praising God (Rev
“Hosanna!” (11:9): Hebrew expression meaning
literally, “Save us now!” (cf. Ps 118:25-26). It was an exclamation of praise,
much like today’s “God save the king!” or “Hail to the chief!”
Fig tree (11:13): Fig is a common food in the
region. Its green fruit is concealed among leaves until near the time of
ripening; its flowers are hidden inside the fruit.Fig trees around
Jerusalem normally begin to grow leaves in March or April but do not produce
fruits until their leaves are fully grown in June. This tree was unusual in
that it was already full of leaves near the time of Passover (mid-April).
In the temple’s outer court (the furthest into
the temple the Gentiles were allowed), the chief priest Caiaphas had authorized
a market for the sale of kosher (ritually clean) items necessary for temple
sacrifice.It was far easier for a pilgrim to purchase items that
were guaranteed kosher than to bring them with him and have them inspected for
meeting the requirements.
Money changers (11:15): In New Testament
Palestine, there were three forms of currency: imperial (Roman), provincial
(Greek), and local (Jewish). In exchange for Greek and Roman currency, money
changers provided pilgrims the required Jewish coinage for the annual half-shekel
temple tax. Though a small surcharge was permitted, these transactions were
sources of extortion and fraud.
each of the following, what did Jesus need it for, and how was it actually
1b. Fig tree
did Jesus come to Jerusalem?
is your God-given purpose? Why are you here, at this time?
1. Jesus borrowed a colt. What
are other things Jesus used that He did not own? What does this tell you about
getting the things we need?
2. What do you have that Jesus
can borrow? What does He return to you?
3a. What are the characteristics
of a colt that no one has ridden?
3b. Share an example of how God
used someone who did not appear useful.
4. What does the disciples’
obedience tell you about their faith?
5. List the things people did
when Jesus rode into Jerusalem.
6. What was going through the
mind of each of the following?
7. Why did Jesus go to the temple
even though it was already late (11)?
8. Why did Jesus go to find out
if the fig tree had any fruit? Didn’t He already know?
9a. What does the fig tree
without fruits represent?
9b. Name someone in the Bible who
was like a fig tree with nothing but leaves. Name someone who was the opposite.
9c. How might a believer become
like the fig tree without fruits?
10. Is it fair for the fig tree
to die? Why or why not?
11. Why didn’t the fig tree
wither right away? Compare this to the parable of the fig tree in Lk 13:6-9.
12. Contrast the colt and the fig
tree. Which served its purpose?
13a. What is wrong with selling
items required for sacrifice? Are the merchants not providing a convenience to
13b. How is convenience sometimes
a danger to our faith?
14a. How had the buyers and
sellers made the temple “a den of thieves”? (cf. Jer 7:10-11,17-18).
14b. How was the temple at that
time like the fig tree without fruits?
14c. How might the church today
become “a den of thieves” or like the fig tree without fruits?
15a. Why did the chief priests
and scribes want to kill Jesus?
15b. How were the chief priests
and scribes like the fig tree without fruits?
16. Explain verse 24. Can we pray
for anything as long as we believe?
17. How do we have a faith that
can move a mountain?
18. How is faith (22-24) related to
forgiveness (25-26)? (cf. Jas 1:5-6; 5:15-16).
19. Do you have anything against
another person? What is your incentive to forgive him or her?