Sunday, June 22, 2008

Jesus Curses the Fig Tree

The Great Commission

Part 22 – Jesus Curses the Fig Tree

Pastor Bruce A. Shields

House of Faith – www.PS127.org | www.TruthDigest.org

WHERE WE ARE AT

Jesus Speaks to Zacchaeus

Jesus Arrives in Jerusalem (Triumphal Entry)

Jesus Cleanses the Temple (again)

SCRIPTURE READING

Matthew 21:17 – 22

17 And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.

18 Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, "May you never bear fruit again!" Immediately the tree withered.

20 When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. "How did the fig tree wither so quickly?" they asked.

21 Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."

I. TO LEAVE AND THEN RETURN

This story is very symbolic of Christ and His relationship with Jerusalem and the Israelites, as well as His relationship with all believers from that point on.

Christ came first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

Jesus came to Jerusalem, and the Israelites, most of whom did not want anything to do with Jesus.

Christ comes and reveals Himself, each of us having the opportunity to have a right relationship with the Lord.

a. He left the City (Jerusalem)

This being the end of His ministry here on earth, Jesus left Jerusalem to get some rest before returning.

b. He returned to them

This too is symbolic.

Jesus tells us that He must go and prepare a place for us, but where He is going we will also go to be with Him.

He promises He will return for us.

He came, revealed Himself to us, left for a while, and then returns to get those who belong to Him.

c. He Hungered…

On His way He sees a fig tree, which represents the Jews.

Because of His hunger for fruit, He stops to look at the tree.

II. CURSING THE FRUITLESS

a. He sees the Fig tree which appeared to be in good health

Obviously from a distance the tree looked as though it would have fruit, possible having many leaves catching the sun’s light.

b. He found no fruit when He examined it

But when Jesus examined the tree which from the outskirts appeared to be healthy, full of nice green leaves, He found no fruit.

How many of us in our lives today, have the appearance of bearing fruit.

We have the outward leaves drawing all attention to us and our deeds, but when Christ comes and He examines our inside, as the Lord did with this tree here today, will He find fruit?

Fruit that can only come by the Holy Spirit?

If you have no fruit, you do not have the Holy Spirit.

If you have the Holy Spirit, then you will have fruit.

The Pharisees and Sadducees had this problem.

They had the appearance on the outside of bearers of fruit, but when examined, they were nothing but leaves.

All for show, no fruit.

Jesus expects fruit from His people.

As the parable of the servants goes, the master gave to each and expected a profit upon his return.

When you accept the Lord, He gives you the promise of the Father in heaven, which is the Holy Spirit.

What are you doing with that Holy Spirit?

He has trusted you with it, upon His return; will He find fruit in you?

Or like the wicked servant from the parable, are you going to bury (or take to the grave) what God has given you to use in life?

Returning to him what he had given you?

Unused.

c. He cursed the fruitless tree

The Lord cursed the tree because it should have had fruit, but did not.

The tree had rejected the will of the Lord.

The Lord’s will was to find fruit, and there was none.

If we take a moment to examine our lives, are we too rejecting the will of the Lord?

When we reject the Lord’s will, we are essentially rejecting Him.

Jesus Himself said, “If you love me, you will obey my commands”.

Which is the will of the Father in heaven.

When we do not obey God’s will, we reject the Lord, just as the Pharisees and Sadducees did.

d. Upon the rejection of Christ, it immediately began to whither

Upon rejecting Christ, and because no fruit was found upon examination, the tree was cursed and withered.

The day is coming, and will soon be here when we will be examined by our Lord.

Will He find fruit in you?

Are you using what God gave you in this life to serve Him?

Every ability, every skill, everything you own, have, receive, or are going to get, comes ONLY by the hand of God.

Therefore, should what belongs to Him be used for His glory?

There’s so much talk about tithe, and we will be doing a series soon about tithing.

But bottom line, remember Zacchaeus from our sermon last week?

The minimum required of him to repay those he may have cheated, according to Levitical law which comes straight from the Word of God, he was only required to pay back what he took plus 1/5th.

But because his heart was changed, and he accepted the Lord and was moved by the Holy Spirit, he chose to do what was GREATER, not the least that was required.

Not the least that was required, but the MOST he could possibly do!

Instead of 1/5th he said he would pay back the greater amount of 4 times!

Do you realize that was 20 times as much as what God required????

Not doing the LEAST he could do for the Lord, but the MOST he could do.

We need to have that attitude, especially when it comes to the things that belong to the Lord.

Jesus said, when someone asks for your coat, give them your shirt as well.

If they ask you to carry their load 1 mile, carry it 2.

We are required by Jesus as the children of God NOT to do the least that is required, but always to do more.

Take what God has given you in this life, and use it for His kingdom.

Whether it be money, time, abilities…

They all belong to the Lord.

Use them for His kingdom.

Produce fruit with what the Lord has given you, so when that day comes, and Jesus examines your inside, that there will be beautiful fruit for Him.

Because if there is one thing Jesus has made very clear, and we can look at many examples in the scriptures of this, Jesus does not care about how many beautiful leaves are on the outside…

But whether you are producing fruit.

III. FAITH IN CHRIST ALONE

a. Disciples saw and were amazed at this

b. If you have faith and do not doubt

Faith in Christ alone. Do not doubt the Lord and His Word.

c. Power & Authority in Christ, life & death in our tongue

We have power and authority given to us by Christ Himself, and there is life and death in our tongues, and we will eat the fruit thereof.

d. Blessings and cursings

A whole series in itself.

Bottom line, what we sow, we shall reap.

Are you sowing discord or unity?

Are you sowing sparingly or generously?

Are you sowing love or hate?

Blessings and cursings, what we sow, we shall reap.

CONCLUSION

2 Corinthians 9:5 – 7

5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.

6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

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