JESUS entered Jerusalem as the Messiah (Matt. 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:26-44; John 12:12-19). He dropped all reserve and for a brief time assumed His position publicly as the long-expected One who should come. He entered as King; later He acted as Prophet and Priest. He fulfilled prophecy when He entered in the way predicted (Zech. 9:9)—but He was refused. However, one day He will enter Jerusalem as King and will reign! He knew upon this entry that He would be rejected and that the bitter way of the Cross lay just ahead. Before He can reign as triumphant King, He must die as suffering Servant.
Luke records His weeping over the city. Their eyes were blinded, their hearts hardened. What misery the years have brought upon the city that refused Him! His prophecy that the enemies would cast a trench about Jerusalem and lay it even with the ground and not leave one stone of the temple upon another was literally fulfilled.
They did not realize that their day of visitation was upon them. They had their chance and did not know it. Is it not so with men today? Christ calls us, and we do not heed the Spirit’s pleading. One day He will come in judgment. Ah, that we knew the things which belong unto our peace! Pharisaism stands by and scoffs at the believer’s joy. Sadduccism criticizes in its skepticism. A wild world hurtles onward to ruin. But He will come again to reign, and woe unto His enemies in that day!
Jesus proceeded to cleanse the temple. After He enters the temple of the heart, He cleanses away all that offends. He made a rugged use of force. As He worked, He quoted Scripture (Isa. 56:7; Jer. 7:11). To the surprised and displeased Pharisees He quoted even more (Ps. 8:2). There are still those stilted and sanctimonious souls who resent joy in God’s house. The hallelujahs and hosannas have vanished from many of our churches.
The fig tree which Christ condemned to unfruitfulness is a type of the Jewish nation, having only the leaves of an external religiousness but no spiritual reality. Jesus symbolically condemns the Jewish nation, and that has been fulfilled. The fig tree is beginning to put forth leaves nowadays in the rehabilitation of Palestine by the Jewish people. This is a clear sign that the end draws nigh (Matt. 24:32-33).
The fig tree incident is also an illustration about the power of faith. Peter seemed surprised that the tree had actually withered. He should have known it would when Jesus had said so! Is not that like our faith—which asks, but really doesn’t expect to see things happen? The faith of God (Mark 11:22) orders the mountain to move and then expects to see it move! Our prayers fail because we ask and then do not believe we have what we ask. We demand to see, but faith takes without seeing and believes it has what it asked.
But the Lord also added here that we need not pray with an unforgiving spirit and expect to receive. Of course, under grace we forgive because we are forgiven, but an unforgiving spirit breaks our fellowship, and those out of fellowship cannot pray and receive because their hearts condemn them.
Jesus enters the heart as King and cleanses it as Priest. Is your heart a den of thieves?