Teachings from A Colt (11:1-6)
Jesus sends two disciples to
fetch a colt (1-3)
The disciples do as Jesus said
Entry into Jerusalem (11:7-11)
People praise Jesus (7-10)
Jesus enters Jerusalem
and rests in Bethany
Teachings from A Fig Tree
Jesus cannot find any fruit on
the tree (12-13)
Jesus curses the fig tree (14)
Teachings from the Temple (11:15-18)
Jesus drives out those who were
buying and selling (15-16)
The chief priests and the scribes
plot to kill Jesus (17-18)
Teachings on Prayer (11:19-26)
The curse on the fig tree
The power of faith in God (22-24)
Forgive others in prayer (25-26)
Hosanna, blessed, kingdom, fruit,
house of prayer, den of thieves, faith, pray, forgive
1a. Colt—Jesus needed to ride into Jerusalem.
No one has ever ridden on this colt (2), implying that it was perhaps untamed
and/or had a bad temperament. So it was a miracle that Jesus could ride the
colt without trouble.
1b. Fig tree—Jesus was hungry and needed something to eat. It withered
because it did not have any fruit.
house of prayer. However, the people turned it into a market.
2. To fulfill His purpose of
coming to earth, to teach about the heavenly kingdom and the last days, to
reveal the hypocrisy of the religious establishment, to be persecuted, to die
on the cross
1. Jesus taught in a borrowed boat
(Lk 5:3), ate the Passover meal in a borrowed room
(Mk 14:12-15), and was buried in someone else’s tomb (Mt 27:59-60). Jesus owned
nothing (Lk 9:58), yet everything He needed was
provided for Him. If we serve God and put Him first, He will always provide for
our needs, even when we seem to have nothing (2Cor 6:10).
2. Jesus promised that whatever we
give up for Him and the gospel will be returned one hundred times (Mk
3a. not respectable; not calm; it’s hard to look dignified, riding on a
colt that is trying to throw you off.
4. Unlike before, they did not
question Jesus. They did not worry that people would accuse them of stealing
the colt, or why Jesus wanted to ride an untamed colt. They did as He said.
They showed the same faith while preparing the Passover meal (Mk 14:12-16).
their cloaks on the road, spread branches, went ahead and behind Jesus, shouted
6a. Crowd—He was their hero. His miracles and His words amazed them. The
people thought Jesus was the king who would restore Israel (10). They had tried
unsuccessfully to make Him king (Jn 6:15), but this
time, they thought, He was coming to do what they wanted.
6b. Disciples—They must have been quite proud
of the attention they were getting. Perhaps they were basking in the glory the
crowd was showering upon Jesus. Perhaps they took the people’s support as motivation
to confront the leaders in Jerusalem.
They might have ignored or forgotten Jesus’ prophecy that He would be
persecuted and killed.
6c. Jesus—He was silent when He entered the city. He knew that everyone,
including His own disciples, did not understand what was about to take place.
The same people who were cheering and following Him would soon condemn and
betray Him. Jesus was preparing Himself to drink the bitter cup.
7. Perhaps Jesus went to the
temple to pray (cf. 11:17). When He was there, “He looked around at all
things.” He wanted to see for Himself how the temple was being used.
8. Jesus often used everyday
activities to teach us spiritual lessons. He used His hunger as a starting
point to teach the disciples how to be useful to God. Perhaps the disciples
were impressed by the leaves because they assumed the tree had fruits to eat.
Instead of telling them otherwise, Jesus inspected the tree so that the
disciples could see for themselves. Jesus does not jump to conclusions. He does
not condemn us rashly. We also should not show favoritism based on someone’s
appearance (Jas 2:1-4).
9a. The flowers and the fruits of a fig tree
are hidden, which represent a spirit of humility. In contrast, this fig tree
with full leaves advertised itself ahead of time, when it had no fruit to give
(Mic 7:1). This tree represents those who have the
appearance of godliness, when, in fact, they do not live up to what they
profess and are useless in God’s eyes (like the unbelieving Jews of Jesus’
time). It can also represent people who want to stand out among the crowd, to
defy the norm, when, in fact, there is no substance in their actions and words.
We must bear fruit for God by practicing God’s word and nurturing our spiritual
lives instead of putting on a superficial religion or trying to impress people
with external things.
9b. King Solomon had great wisdom, riches, fame, and power (1Kgs
10:14-29), but he turned away from God (1Kgs 11:6). In the end of his life, he
realized that all his accomplishments were meaningless (Eccl 1:17; 2:11).
John the Baptist lived a simple
life (Mk 1:6). He called himself “a voice in the wilderness” (Jn 1:23) and turned the attention away from himself to
Jesus Christ (Mk 1:7).
Jesus had no physical beauty (Isa
53:2), but He lived a perfect life to show us how to serve God and man.
9c. Having an appearance of godliness but indulging in sin (2Tim 3:5),
performing religious duties without sincerity to obey God’s will (Mk 7:6),
using religion for self-interest (1Tim 6:3-5), preaching false doctrines in the
name of Christ (2Cor 11:13; 2Jn 7).
10. The fig tree without fruits was a “performed” (as opposed to spoken)
parable. Jesus cursed the tree not because it did not have fruit, but that it
grew leaves without having any fruits. The leaves made the tree stand out from
the other fig trees. It misled people into thinking it had figs to satisfy
their hunger (cf. Did You Know 7).
Nevertheless, God does not enjoy
punishing the wicked (Ezek 18:23). Jesus did not say to the tree, “You will
wither and die.” Rather, He said, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.”
(14). It was a statement of the consequence of the tree’s “hypocrisy.” A tree
that did not serve its purpose (producing fruits) no long had a reason to live,
so it withered.
11. Jesus waited to test the disciples’ faith. When Peter saw the
withered fig tree, he pointed out the obvious to Jesus. It seems like Peter was
amazed that what Jesus said came true. Because Jesus did not specifically say
the tree would die, perhaps the disciples did not expect it to happen.
Also, Jesus waited a day to
symbolize God’s mercy in this “parable.” In Lk
13:6-9, the master waited three years before deciding to cut down the fig tree
without fruits. He even agreed to wait one more year so that the gardener could
fertilize it more. We decide what to do in light of God’s mercy. Losing our
soul is a gradual process. When we give in more and more to the desires of our
flesh, we stray further and further away from God. If we do not repent,
eventually we must face the consequences (Mt 7:19).
12. The colt was an ignoble creature. No one had expected it to be
ridden. However, it submitted to Jesus, and played a noble role of carrying
Jesus into Jerusalem.
God chooses the foolish (1Cor 1:27). Even though we are lowly jars of clay, God
can shine out His glory through us (2Cor 4:7).
The fig tree could have
contributed to Jesus’ ministry by supplying Him food. However, it was all show
and no substance. God is not impressed by external appearance (Gal 2:6); He
judges our hearts (Heb 4:12). Our worldly accomplishment is irrelevant. What is
important is whether or not we practice God’s commandments. Our work for the
Lord will follow us when we die (Rev 14:12-13).
merchants degraded the act of offering into something that can be made easy by
paying money. They forgot that the items used for sacrifice were secondary. God
desires what is in our hearts, not burnt offerings (Hos
6:6). Furthermore, when the money changers cheated people (cf. Did You Know 9), they sinned against God in a place of worship.
Secondly, they had robbed the
Gentiles of the opportunity to worship at the “house of prayer for all
nations.” With all the business activities and traffic in the court of the
Gentiles, how could a Gentile worshipper even offer a prayer here without
13b. The Israelites were persuaded
to worship in their own ways because it was convenient (1Kgs 12:28). Likewise,
sometimes we set our principles aside for convenience’s sake. We do not attend
services because the church is too far away. We do not help others if it would
take too much time. We tell “white lies” to avoid small inconveniences. Jesus
cleared the temple to teach us that our faith is a matter of our heart, not of
outer court was turned into a market, creating a noisy atmosphere. How could
anyone worship God in the midst of all the commotion? Also, the court was as
far as a Gentile was allowed, so this was a Gentile’s only impression of how
the “chosen people” worshiped God. The buying and selling blasphemed God’s name
among the Gentiles (Rom 2:24).
temple looked prosperous, with many people coming and going, but it no longer
served its spiritual purpose. It was supposed to be a place declaring God’s
name, a place to pray for His protection and forgiveness (1Kgs 8:28-30). But
the Israelites forsook God, and His glory departed from the temple (Ezek
10:18). Without God’s abidance, the temple was only a shell. In Jesus’ day, the
people’s faith had become such a formality that the temple was turned into a
market. It might be why the temple would be destroyed (Mk 13:2), in the same
way that the fig tree was cursed and withered.
14c. If the church does not
glorify God, it becomes “a den of thieves.” It might use its authority to take
advantage of people. It might become a place to socialize or to do business,
where worship is secondary and superficial.
We must look beyond the
appearances. Just because a church has many members and seems active (many
leaves) does not necessarily mean it has the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The
church must be a solemn and spiritual body of Christ. If it does not reflect
the love and peace of Christ, it causes its members and the non-believers to
stumble. For example, Paul rebuked the Corinthian church for bringing their
disputes outside the church (1Cor 6:4-6).
15a. Jesus equated them to robbers, which was a severe insult.
Moreover, Jesus’ fame and influence had spread from Galilee to Judea to Jerusalem, and now He was
here in person, threatening their authority. They feared that Jesus would
either take over their positions, or cause a revolt that would bring the wrath
of the Roman government upon them. They had to act quickly to protect
themselves; all they needed was a way to turn the people against Him.
Also, by quoting Isaiah 56, Jesus
was implying that He was the Lord God, and the temple was “His” house. The
scribes and chief priests were probably incensed by this implicit claim.
15b. Like the fig tree, they were
full of beautiful green leaves but had no fruit. Jesus rebuked them for putting
on a show of piety to gain respect, while cheating the poor when people were
not looking (Lk 20:46-47). He also compared them to
whitewashed tombs, “which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are
full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean” (Mt 23:27). The religious
leaders were supposed to guide the people’s spiritual growth. However, not only
were they blind to God’s will, they led the people down the same stray path (Mt
15:14; 23:15). Allowing a market in the temple was one such example.
16. We must first examine our motives and ask that God’s will be done
(Mk 14:36; Rom 12:2; 1Jn 5:14). If our request is for the purpose of
indulgence, we will not receive what we ask for (Jas 4:3-4). Paul did not
receive what he prayed for, because God had a better purpose for him (2Cor
17. Having faith means believing that God rewards those who seek Him
(Heb 11:16; Rom 8:32). It means believing that we have already received His
answer even while we pray (Mk 11:24; Heb 11:1). We must trust that God will do
what is best in the right time (Rom 8:28). Also, we must show our faith by what
we do (Jas 2:22). While waiting for God to act on our behalf, we must continue
to obey Him (Jas 4:7-8).
18. Faith and forgiveness go hand-in-hand. The book of James parallels
this teaching. First, we must believe in what we pray for (Jas 1:5-6). In the
meantime, we must bear fruit to show our faith (Jas 2:17-18). Finally, the
power of prayer comes from the forgiveness of sins—from God (Jas 5:15) and from
each other (Jas 5:16).
19. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). We
forgive others because Jesus forgave us first. And if we show mercy, we will be
shown mercy (Jas 2:13). If not, God will demand that we repay all the debts we
owe Him (Mt 18:34-35).