JESUS CURSES THE FIG TREE
FOR FALSE PROFESSION
First, Jesus leaves town and goes toward Bethany. At Passover time, lodging would be difficult to find about Jerusalem. The house of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus was available to Jesus. Then on the next morning, He returned to Jerusalem. He approaches a fig tree and desires to eat thereof. This cursing occurs on Monday morning.
Matthew 21:17-20 (KJV)
17 And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.
18 Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered.
19 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 henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.
20 And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!
FIG TREES HAVE FRUIT BEFORE LEAVES
On the fig tree, the fruit appears before the leaves. It was in leaf, and means it was in a sense, proclaiming it had fruit. This fig tree was barren, and had leaves only. Israel was that barren fig tree. Christ's word caused the fig tree to wither.
To profess something, and not have it, angers the Lord. God wants fruit from this world. Israel proclaimed to know Jesus as the Messiah, and to give honor to Him. Yet, they would shortly crucify Him. Likewise, many profess to be Christians in our day. Some of these ones do not really have fruit to prove their profession. We have ministers, board members, teachers, song leaders, etc. who are hypocrites, abusers, and false prophets. They offend and do iniquity, and yet call themselves to be Christians. Jesus is still angered at such, and a curse that will cause them to wither and die is soon to come!
The book of Matthew says that "presently" the tree withered, but in Mark, we find how long that time was.
"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."
So, it was Tuesday morning when they passed by again that they found the tree to be withered. A day had passed. The judgment of the fig tree had taken a day. The judgment of those in the last days who profess to be righteous, but are not, but are the false prophets, the hypocrites, and the offenders of the church will likewise take one day.
"...I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day."
The verses in Mark (Mark 11:12-14), that tell about the cursing of the fig tree on Monday, and the verses that tell about the withered tree found on Tuesday (Mark 11:20-21), are interspersed with a story about a casting out of the moneychangers (Mark 11:15-19). This puts this casting out of moneychangers to be on Monday, i.e. the day following the casting out of moneychangers on Palm Sunday found recorded in Matthew 21:12-16.
This means that two days in a row, Jesus went to the temple and cast out the moneychangers. He was so angered by their desires to get rich off the worshippers in the temple, that they exchanged Jewish coins for the offering for the foreign coins which could not be used since they had images of false gods. They cheated the people in the exchange. Jesus does not want the house of God to be used for cheating of the worshippers.
The two chasing out of moneychangers, one on Sunday afternoon, and the other on Monday afternoon, is divided in between, on Monday morning by the cursing of the fig tree.
The three events have their message in common. There comes a time, in which, God will not be merciful any longer with the religious hypocrites and false prophets. Judgment will come to the falsely religious. The house of God will be restored to a place where people will speak to God and God will speak to them.
Many more people claim to be saved, than are truly saved. I do believe that salvation is made so easy, that even the thief on the cross in the last moments of his life, could call out to Jesus in faith, and receive salvation. Yet, there are some who claim to serve the Lord, but have not truly extended their heart and life to Him as Lord, and are only selfishly seeking power, fame, money, health, etc. Their claims of salvation are empty, void of reality.
Matthew 7:21-23 (KJV)
21 Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father Who is in heaven.
22 Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.
It is possible, though unlikely, to totally choose to leave the Lord once saved, but I also believe that many who claim to have been saved, yet live lives errant from truth, void of love and fruit of the Spirit, were never truly saved in the beginning.
The ones who ate the loaves and fishes, who called Jesus ‘rabbi’, and ‘prophet’, were not truly saved. They wanted daily sustenance, they were seeking prosperity not a Lord, not a King of kings. They had not come into the kingdom of heaven, but had only sought help from the One Who could have saved them, had they truly accepted Him.
WHAT IS IT THAT INDICATES SOMEONE HAS
A TRUE RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS?
1. We need to come to Jesus.
If we hear of the Father, and want Him, we will find the only Way to God is through the atoning work of Jesus Christ. When we come to God through Jesus, we will find He will not turn us away, but will accept us in His mercy and grace.
John 6:37 (KJV)
37 All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.
John 6:45 (KJV)
45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto Me.
2. We need to partake of Jesus’ work done for us.
Like eating bread, we partake of Jesus, and the work that Jesus did in His flesh becomes a work done for us, and we partake of the penalty paid for us. As just stated by Jesus, we do not ‘labor’ for food that perishes, but we accept the labor done by Jesus for the spiritual food that is eternal.
John 6:50-51 (KJV)
50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
3. We need to enter into a relationship with God the Father, and Jesus, Who was sent by Him.
This relationship is available to us, because we have partaken of the broken Bread of life, i.e. His broken body on the cross, dying for us. We now can enter into fellowship and into relationship with the Father and the Son.
John 17:3 (KJV)
And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent.
4. We need to keep His commandments because of love, not because of effort to keep a law.
Once saved by grace, we hear His voice, and an inner change in us makes us want to keep His commandments. It is not legalism, it is choice, due to an inner change in our spirit. We hear and heed to voice of the Lord, proving thereby that we are truly His sheep.
Matthew 19:17 (KJV)
17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
John 10:27-29 (KJV)
27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me:
28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.
29 My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand.
5. We need to fight the fight of faith, lay hold on it, and hold on till the end.
1 Timothy 6:12 (KJV)
12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
1 Timothy 6:19 (KJV)
19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
6. We will show forth the fruit of the Spirit, including love.
The fruit of the Spirit identifies true Christians. The fruit of the Spirit is the nature and personality of God. If we are truly saved, we will find that love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, temperance, and faithfulness flowing out from us. For Jesus is in us, and His nature will be exhibited in our words and our actions.
Matthew 7:20 (KJV)
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
1 John 3:14-15 (KJV)
14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
We have eternal life by grace, not by works. Yet, we are ‘saved unto good works’, so if the things listed above are not in our lives, it shows we have not accepted, received eternal life in Jesus.
THE GIFT OF SALVATION IS FREELY GIVEN BY GRACE,
BUT IS ACCEPTED AS A PERSONAL, ETERNAL POSSESSION
a. enter into it by choice;
Matthew 7:13 (KJV)
13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
b. receive it as a gift of mercy;
Romans 6:23 (KJV)
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
c. sow into the new relationship, so as to reap from it fruit;
Galatians 6:7-8 (KJV)
7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
MANY TODAY ARE INSINCERE IN THEIR PROFESSION,
AND ARE NOT TRULY SAVED.
SOME ARE CALLED ‘MOCKERS’
"But, beloved, remember ye the words (rhema) which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts."
Jude was likely referring to II Peter 3:3, which was Peter’s rhema word concerning ones thinking themselves saved, but not truly saved.
"Knowing this first, that their shall come in the last days, scoffers, walking after their own lusts, ...saying, Where is the promise of His coming..."
Jude could also have been referring to Paul’s rhema word found in:
I Timothy 4:1-3:
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils."
It is likely that Jude was familiar with both passages, and probably others also. We should not be surprised by pretend Christians in the last days, for it has been often spoken in warning, even from Old Testament passages. We find them today in church congregations, on message boards, in chat rooms, amidst our own families, on television programs, amidst co-workers, etc. The sins of sexual revolution in the churches, sexual perversion plaguing the churches, ‘speaking lies in hypocrisy’, with ‘consciences seared’, with the encouraging of lasciviousness,’ "filthy dreamers’, ‘despising’ those that are of God, are far too common.
"These be they, who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit."
Jude herein tells us that these pretend Christians are they who ‘separate themselves, sensual, and having not the Spirit.’ This means they willingly have chosen to not be part of the kingdom of heaven. They may come to church, but remain separate, usually by claiming a special holiness or knowledge that makes them different from others.
The word ‘separate is ‘apodiorizo’ in the original Greek. It means to ‘disjoin, by a boundary, forming of a party, or sect’. Attempts to reconcile everyone to the Word, are met with challenges to the Word, attacks on those speaking the Word, and claims that everyone else in the parade is out of step but them.
The word ‘sensual’ is word is the Greek word ‘pauchikos", and refers to the depraved fleshly nature.’ Sexual thoughts, deeds become more and more dominant in their lives. The conscience is too dead to hold onto morals.
‘Not having the Spirit’ means they are ‘none of His’, for to not have the Spirit is to not have the Lord, for the Spirit brings conviction, leads one to Christ.
These pretend Christians, who have refused to be totally committed unto the Lord Jesus as Lord and King of kings, are far too common in churches. What are we to do? We need to open our eyes, quit hiding, get our head out of the sand. These ones may justify their sins, and have disdain for those who do recognize their sins.
Jesus was angered at the ‘fig tree’ with leaves, but no fruit. Still today, He is angered at those who profess to be saved, but are only pretending real commitment to Him.
The church of Laodicea, which is typical of many last day churches, has many pretend Christians within it.
"Because thou sayest, I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked."
The Bible tells us that ‘Ye shall know them by their fruits." (Matthew 7:15-23). We can know who is a pretend seeker of the Lord, and who is a true seeker of Jesus. We can know them by their ‘fruits’, but not always by their outward appearance.
A beautiful tree can produce horrible fruit. A tree is measured by the kind of fruit it produces. The same with those in congregations. There can be some well mannered, polite, refined, educated, poised, and sweet talking ones, who are inwardly not truly accepting Jesus as Lord, but only seeking to see what they can get from Him, from the church. They therefore produce bad fruit.
SOME ARE LYING HYPOCRITES
ONLY PRETENDING TO BE CHRISTIANS
1 Timothy 4:1-3 (KJV)
1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
The word ‘hypocrisy’ comes from the Greek word ‘hypocrisis’ meaning ‘acting in deceit’. The word ‘speaking lies’ is ‘pseudologos’, meaning speaking false words’. What Paul teaches here, is the putting on an act of self denial, a claim of revelation to prove their false teaching. Some go beyond simple deception, but through greed, power seeking, willingly deceiving others, speak words that do not originate from God. We see them on Christian television speaking lies, without guilt, having money sent to them with promises that God is ordering such offering to purchase His gift for them. This is blasphemous, and they are not hearing that greedy message from a God Who gives all things by grace.
Hypocrites claim holiness, but are evil. Hypocrites claim to be clean, but are unclean. Hypocrites are persons used by deceptive spirits. Like the pharisees of the New Testament time, they are white vessels that are filthy inside, or whited sepulchres full of dead bones.
Many today, in the churches, in pulpits, and on Christian television programs spend most of their time raising their money to be on to again raise money. Their mansions and jet planes do not show poverty, but they fleece the pockets of many poor. The hypocrites of prosperity preaching do not ask if the giver is a Christian, the promised vision is given for anyone who gives money, regardless of their faith or standing with the Lord. Hypocritical pretense, lying deception, all aimed at raising money is their message.
PRETEND CHRISTIANS CONFORM TO THE WORLD,
& SHOW NO TRANSFORMATION TO CHRIST-LIKENESS
"I beseech ye therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present yourselves a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable, unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God."
Romans 12:2 says not to be conformed to this world. If we are ‘conformed’ to the world, still living in the world, still seeking Jesus for the natural bread and fishes, we will never reach a goal is to ‘prove’ what is the will of God.
Salvation takes that ‘conformed’ person, and transforms them into a child of God, brings them into the kingdom of heaven. The word ‘prove’ is ‘dokimazo’ in the Greek, and it means ‘to discern, to approve’. We need to know God’s will, God’s thinking, God’s ways. We can only do know His will, understand that it is perfect, good, acceptable, if we let God TRANSFORM our mind, by ‘RENEWING’ it.
We must resist being ‘conformed to the world’, and resist having the deceptions that they believe be a part of our thinking. "Conformed’ is from the Greek word, suschematizo (G4964), meaning to conform to another's example. We are not to still be like the world, not be like the sinners on the block, we need to be transformed.
Romans 12:2 says to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. If we make that choice to not be conformed, and to let the new birth in us start a transformation of our person, we can be in God’s kingdom, we can partake of the spiritual bread of life.
It is a miracle, the Bible calls ‘transformed’. That is the Greek word, metamorphoo (G3339), meaning ‘transfigured by a supernatural change.’ If we choose to partake of the Bread of life, i.e. Jesus, we are transformed, by this ‘renewing of our mind.’
The fruit of a new Christian, is seen in watching their mind be transformed, changed, renewed to be like that of Jesus’.
SATAN USES PRETEND CHRISTIANS
TO APPEAR AS MINISTERS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.
2 Corinthians 11:14-15 (KJV)
14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
A transformation goes on with ‘pretend’ Christians. Slowly, they become more and more ‘like a minister of righteousness’, but inwardly are ravening wolves, cunning snakes for the works of the devil. We are not to believe all who claim to be Christian. There are fakes, hypocrites, pretend Christians, who have not accepted Jesus as Lord, and as the King of kings.
JESUS EXAMINED THE TREE,
AND WE MUST TRY THOSE WHO CLAIM TO BE SAVED
I John 4:1-6
"Beloved, believe not every spirit but try the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets are gone into the world."
We must try and test all in these ‘perilous times’. Some may seem spiritual, may seem religious, but all teachings, all doctrines must be tested. These pretend ‘seekers’ in that time of the feeding of the thousands, came up with a doctrine that Jesus needed to be forced to be king, and that Jesus was to feed them daily all they wanted. All prophetic words must be tested and verified by the Word of God, and the witness of the Spirit.
Matthew 13:24-25 (KJV)
24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
Notice, the devil, like the ‘enemy’ in Matthew 13, sowed the evil ones into the midst of the church, and then ‘went his way’. The devil’s job is easy if ministers of the church preach doctrines of the devil. He can go his way, and let preachers with their own pulpits, their own congregations, and will continue to preach the message the devil would himself if he had their pulpits.
THERE WILL BE A TRANSFORMING CHANGE
IN TRUE BELIEVERS
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (KJV)
9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
JESUS PROMISES POWER TO DEAL
WITH FALSE PROFESSERS
Jesus tells the disciples that they will have power to deal with those who falsely profess. Jesus reminded the disciples of the power of faith. We have faith, and we have power, and we can profess it and practice it. We need to know of our power, and know how to exercise it.