All the city was stirred.
Matthew21:1-22 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
When they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to Me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
5 “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold your King is coming to you, Gentle, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”
6 The disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them, 7 and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid their coats on them; and He sat on the coats. 8 Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road. 9 The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting,
“Hosanna to the Son of David;
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;
Hosanna in the highest!”
10 When He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.” 12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. 13 And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers’ den.”
14 And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were shouting in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant 16 and said to Him, “Do You hear what these children are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies You have prepared praise for Yourself’?” 17 And He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.
18 Now in the morning, when He was returning to the city, He became hungry. 19 Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.” And at once the fig tree withered.
20 Seeing this, the disciples were amazed and asked, “How did the fig tree wither all at once?” 21 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen. 22 And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
Today’s text centers around the first two days of the last week of Jesus life as a man. It begins with the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, a day acknowledged by the church as Palm Sunday. The text says: Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road. The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!” When He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, “Who is this?” The excitement which stirred the city was surely equaled in the heavenly realm. Jesus had been speaking openly to His disciples about what was coming, that He would be crucified. The spiritual forces of evil were at work and God’s heavenly host watched and joined with the earthly crowds in praise. In Luke’s account of that day it says: Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” (Luke 19:39-40) Indeed, all of heaven and earth were stirred.
Jesus knew His remaining time on earth was short. He poured Himself out teaching and working miracles. The text says: Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers’ den.” Many people, critical of the church, point to this and other criticisms Jesus had for the religious leaders to argue that Jesus opposed and would oppose the church. The truth is though, since Jesus died, was raised from the grave and has ascended to heaven, the physical building of the temple is no longer the place where God resides. 1 Corinthians 3:16 says: Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says: Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. The question today is not so much what would Jesus do to the church but rather each of us should ask ourselves; What tables of greed and self centered lust have I allowed in my heart and body? What would Jesus remove from my temple?
The text says: But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were shouting in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant and said to Him, “Do You hear what these children are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies You have prepared praise for Yourself’?” When I see a young child openly worshipping and praising God it brings great joy to my heart and surely to God as well. Yet there are those who are displeased and disturbed when they see children praising God. They say that the children are being indoctrinated into religion. In truth children, as they always do, only do what is natural. It is natural for all of creation to acknowledge and praise God. Children naturally will praise God. It is doubt, fear and hatred which people sow into the innocence, faith and love of children, but praising God, He has ordained.
Finally in the end of the text we see an account when Jesus was hungry and finding no fruit on a fig tree, He rebukes it and it withers and dies. I wondered why it was that Jesus rebuked it rather than calling forth fruit from it. Like it or not, although many people choose to avoid or eliminate the truth, Jesus, throughout His life and ministry spoke of judgment against what is unfruitful. In John 15:1- 8 Jesus says: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit… Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.”
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You for Your word. Today and every day may I learn the lesson of the cleansing of the temple. Lord Jesus I invite You to overturn and remove anything You find in me that is displeasing to You. May I, like an innocent child respond to You naturally in worship and praise. May I hear and learn the lesson of the fig tree and focus daily on bearing fruit for the kingdom as I abide in You. As I walk with You, where You call me, may I be so full of Your abiding presence, that like the city of Jerusalem, everywhere I go, all heaven and earth is stirred. Amen.