Monday of the Passion Week
“And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?” Matt. 21:10 (NKJV)
Jesus arrived on the scene of the weekly festivities celebrating the liberation of Israel from the clutches of the mighty Egyptian Pharaoh through the yearly Pesach or Passover. Sunday marked the day of His triumphal entry as a select group of followers and believers over the miracle over Lazarus’ resuscitation threw down palm branches and cloaks to welcome Jesus of Nazareth, as the promised Messiah, into Jerusalem. How well did these followers know Jesus? Did they understand the prophecy concerning His death? The followers seemed only to be interested in the miracles and hope of liberation from the Roman Empire, but hardly interested in the Man Jesus and His difficult message. The rest of the population appeared to be asking the correct question concerning the identity of this poor, homeless, son of a carpenter. “Who is this?”
One of the most striking miracles Jesus performs during this passion week, deals with the cursing of the fig tree. Jesus took the reigns of His prophetic office to take time to curse a fig tree which promised signs of bearing fruit early in the season. A seemingly insignificant performance, though small and petty it may seem, actually harkens back to the prophets of old. One must remember that Israel had not seen a prophet from God for nearly half a century, and the last prophetic Word through Malachi ends with the promise of a curse (Mal 4:6). The fig tree represented Israel outwardly showing signs of good fruit, but in reality it was a mere outward appearance of faith. Jesus used the illustration to communicate that His disciples lacked faith and in this instance, the opposite of faith was doubt. The disciples doubted themselves, and they doubted their Messiah.
Have you ever struggled with doubt? Perhaps you have asked the question “Who is Jesus—really?” Difficulties in life and unfulfilled hopes result in a lack of trust in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. It seems fitting during times of doubt to conclude that Jesus is not fulfilling His side of the “bargain”. When we put our trust in Him, isn’t life suppose to be rosy? And happiness the truth? The truth is, when we view Jesus as a magical entity, an eight ball of supposed promises, a fixer of mistakes and autonomous living instead of remaining the God-man who lived and died as the suffering servant who will reign supreme then doubt arrises. When we place hope in a Jesus of our own making, instead of the Jesus on the Cross, faith is replaced with wishful thinking.
As we move closer to the cross this week, let us take time to think upon the person who cleansed the Temple and cursed the tree, revealing in our heart of hearts the cleansing that must be done in us and the idolatry of misplaced trust.