Lesson 92: Jesus Went to the Temple on Monday and Again on Tuesday
Matt. 21:12-22, Mark 11:12-26, Luke 19:45-48
A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. Welcome again! This is lesson # 92. After the triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Sunday and another night most likely with Lazarus and his friends at Bethany; Jesus and the apostles went back to the temple very early on Monday morning. Some think Jesus stayed at different places during the week trying to through off the scribes and Pharisees just in case they came to arrest him at night. This may or may not be true, it is not stated in the text, so any comment would be speculation. But, He did stay at Bethany. Let's start our reading about Monday morning in Mark 11:12. We'll read three verses. Are you ready? Beginning in Mark 11:12. "And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry: and seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find anything thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it." This is one of the most rare of Jesus' miracles. It would seem out of season for figs the first week of April; however, some of the commentators show that there are two possibilities. One is that indeed figs have been found daring the last century in an edible state in the mountains of Lebanon as early as May and some were well formed even earlier. Secondly, some varieties retain their fruit all winter and drop off in the spring as the new foliage comes on and crowds the fruit off. At the end of v.13; Mark said, "the time of figs was not yet"; thus, Mark was saying it was still too early for figs to be ripe. Another interesting question is: why did Jesus and the disciples not eat before leaving Bethany. I suppose there are a lot of possibilities; but, it's plainly stated that he was hungry. This probably means they left Bethany very early; possibly at sun up. Maybe they had an invitation for breakfast in Jerusalem; We simply don't know the explanation. The miracle of Jesus cursing the fig tree is singularly different from any other miracles he did. He gave us no hint as to why, other than the fact it was barren. You will remember that Jesus gave a parable about a barren fig tree beginning in Luke 12:6. But, I see no justification of connecting that parable to this event, since Jesus made not connection. They came back by the fig tree 24 hours later and found it withered; but, we'll save that for later. Matthew gives a very brief account of this occasion. Let's read Matt. 21:18-22. Matthew includes more than one day in his account; but, let's read it. Beginning in Matt. 21:18. "Now in the morning, as he returned into the city, he hungered. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it; Let no fruit grow on thee henceforth for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." The later part, which Jesus said to Peter apparently happened on Tuesday morning; so, we'll get back to that later.
However, when they got to the temple on Monday; Jesus carried out an important item of business, the second cleansing of the temple. Since you have your Bible open to Matthew's account; let's back up a few verses and read in Matt. 21:12-17. Mark and Luke also record this; but, let's read Matthew first. Are you ready? Beginning in Matt. 21:12. "And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them. And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased, and said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou has perfected praise? And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there." O.K. Matthew gave a very brief account of the day. You will recall that John told us about Jesus doing essentially the same thing three years before, recorded in John ch. 2. We talked about what Jesus did in more detail at that time; so, we won't go into it as much here. The point you need to understand is that the merchants and the money changers; trying to get closer and closer to where the crowds were had taken their merchandise into the temple, i.e. in the corridors and open spaces, set up tables and brought in doves and even sheep. This was done because the travelers from distant places needed to purchase these items locally for sacrifice at the temple. Poor people were permitted to sacrifice doves or pigeons. Thus, the local people took advantage of their brethren that came from a distance. In v.12 of Matthew's account, he mentioned that Jesus cast out all them that SOLD and BOUGHT. So, undoubtedly Jesus was as hard on the customers as on the merchants. The money changers did a service of exchanging currency; i.e. currency used in the different lands where the Jews lived so they could pay the merchants locally as well as pay their temple toll and their tithes. These were to be paid in local currency. The temple proper was a relatively small place; but added to that were many corridors and passageways which made up a complex of a number of porches and meeting places. Thus, the temple in it's general sense was a huge place. The grounds covered about 50 acres and the temple was built on the top of what was call Mt. Moriah. The temple proper had been built on what was called the dome of the rock; which supposedly was the place where Abraham was going to offer Isaac (Gen. ch. 22). Let's read Mark and Luke's account. Mark first, beginning in Mark 11:15. If you'll get an eye on that; Mark ch. 11, beginning in v.15 and we'll read down through v.19- Ready? "And they came to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves; and would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves. And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine. And when even was come, he went out of the city." O.K. that's Mark's description of what happened on Monday. Let's read Luke before we review. Luke ch. 19:45 beginning. It's the last four verses in Luke ch. 19. Let's read. "And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priest and the scribes and chief of the people sought to destroy him, and could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him."
It's interesting that John did not tell us about this occasion and he was the only one that told us about Jesus going into the temple three years before and made a whip of small cords. Do you remember? John said, "he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; and said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house a house of merchandise." (John 2:15-16). The peddlers knew and understood that they should not be there; but undoubtedly they just kept creeping in a little closer and a little closer. The captain of the temple and the leaders had not done their job in allowing such to happen. On this latter occasion, all three writers, Matthew, Mark, and Luke say that Jesus quoted a scripture: "My house shall be called the house of prayer" (Matthew's version). This is from Isaiah 56:7. Jesus said they were making the temple a den of thieves; which may have implied they were charging excessive prices. Which you, no doubt, had already suspected. Did you notice in Mark 11:16, Jesus did not permit carrying vessels through the temple, i.e. they were using the temple as a street in going from one part of the city to another? In v.14 of Matthew's account tells us about Jesus healing some that were blind and some that were lame. Luke simply said that Jesus taught each day in the temple. Mark said, "all the people was astonished at his doctrine." Luke said, "the people were very attentive to hear him." Some of the children cried out and sang, "Hosanna to the Son of David," i.e. to the messiah. Thus, Jesus' teaching and healing got so much attention from the crowds and the common people that it created a situation that the scribes and Pharisees and the temple leaders were afraid to make any move toward arresting Jesus. It seems all they could do was watch Him. Now, how would you expect the chief priests and scribes to react to these things? Matthew said they were "sore displeased." Mark and Luke said they sought how they might destroy him. Mark said "they feared him..." The fear WAS that the people surrounding Jesus would retaliate if they tried to arrest him; although, they had decided they were going to take him sometime during the week. Finally, Mark said, "when even was come, he went out of the city." Jesus 'and his disciples went back to Bethany on Monday night.
We have no record of any happenings Monday night. On Tuesday morning Jesus and the apostles come back to the temple, it would appear by the same route they came on Monday morning. Let's read Mark 11:20-26. Early on Tuesday morning, Mark ch. 11, beginning in v.20, Let's read. "And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any; that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses." As I said, they undoubtedly came by the same route to the temple on Tuesday morning as they followed on Monday; because, they passed that same fig tree and Peter was amazed that the tree had withered away completely in only 24 hours. When Peter called attention to the fig tree; Jesus said, "Have faith in God." Thus, one of the reasons for Jesus cursing that fig tree was to teach a lesson about miracles and faith. Some think there were two main roads or pathways from Bethany to Jerusalem. One road went right straight up the hill, i.e. Mt. Olivet; but, the other went winding around the mountain. It was their custom to use the short route when coming down the mountain but to follow the long winding route around the mountain in climbing that mountain called Olivet. Thus, it is most likely the fig tree was on the short steep route. What did Jesus mean when he said to Peter and the others that if they had faith enough they could cause Mt. Olivet to be cast into the sea? Jesus' statements undoubtedly had reference to seemingly insurmountable obstacles. We should not look up this a applying to us in the sense that we can literally move mountains by faith. Miracles have ceased today. This is said in I Cor. 13:10. It might be applied to us in a figurative way; but, not in a literal way. Have you heard the story about the little lady who read this passage and as she pondered on it; it occurred to her that it sure would be nice to have that little hill removed that was between her house and her mailbox. So, she decided since her faith was strong; she would pray for the hill to be removed. So, she put her faith to work that night praying to have the hill removed. The next morning she peered out the window and said, just what Ithought, it's still there.. We need to understand that miracles have ceased today. That doesn't mean that God doesn't have as much capability today as ever. Obviously, He does! Some think that if you believe enough, have faith enough, you can do anything by faith. The Bible certainly teaches faith and faith is necessary to become a child of God; but, there are limitations in this respect. If one could accomplish anything by faith; you see, then it would be possible to control God. Obviously, THAT is absurd! We are not TOLD to pray for miracles. The apostles, however, had been given limited miraculous powers over demons and diseases, you will recall, at the time of the limited commission. But, they were given much broader miraculous powers in less than two months from that very time that Jesus was teaching them THIS on that Tuesday morning there on the side of Mount Olivet. And they certainly had a lot of spiritual mountains ahead of them. The prejudice of the Jews was only one of those spiritual mountains. But, Jesus told the apostles that by faith in God they could overcome the obstacles in front of them. Some of those obstacles must have looked AS BIG AS mount Olivet, to them. Obviously, Jesus implied that their mountain moving and their faith must be in accordance with God's desire. They were NOT to use their miraculous powers in retaliation against their enemies. They should NOT look upon his action toward the fig tree in that light. Notice in v.25-26, Jesus said, "Forgive!" The essence of v.25 is that if we forgive; the heavenly Father will forgive us. God requires us to forgive our fellow man before God will forgive us. It applied to the apostles and it applies to you and me. Then the principle is stated in the negative in v.26, "if ye DO NOT forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses." I think you remember this principle from the sermon on the mount, Matt. 6:14-15. The principle was stated there both in the positive and in the negative, as it is here. Therefore, the apostles were to apply this principle to their miraculous works in the weeks and months ahead. What happened to the fig tree was a very small sample of God's power. Much greater powers were going to be made available to those apostles standing there; than withering a fig tree. Even the apostles were to suffer and they were not to use their miraculous powers in retaliation. O.K. Jesus and the apostles were headed for the temple, early on a Tuesday morning. So, tune-in next time and see what else happened on Tuesday. And, have a good day.