Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday: The Fig Tree and the Temple

It is widely beleived that most of the early part of the week Jesus spent his time in Jeruselem.

Before entering the temple which I will cover in a moment there is a story told in Mark 11 of the Savior cursing a fruitless fig tree. Soon after the curse the tree withered and died. This story is believed by many to be an implication that like this fig tree that should have been producing fruit but was barren, so too were those men of the cloth at His time. Many of the days religious leaders that should have been producing righteous fruit were barren and not producing. Let's turn now to the next event that falls very much in line with the withering of the fig tree.

One of the more dramatic events of the early part of the week was the Savior's cleansing of His temple. On the temple grounds there were men who would sell animals for sacrifices. Pilgrims would come from great distances and make these purchase. Foreign currencies would also necessitate money changers. In spite of these seemingly necessary services offered on the temple grounds the Savior was very upset saying that these men had made His Father's house "a den of thieves" (Matt 21:13).

At this time the temple leadership was widely known as being corrupt. Part of the Savior's rebuke was undoubtedly directed at them for allowing the "den" to be created in the first place. Not only was Jesus stating that he was the King of Israel he was also claiming in this act of cleansing that he was the Son of God and had the right to cleanse His Father's house.

Taken together the story of the fig tree and the cleansing of the temple one might be able to conclude that the Savior feels strongly about those who have been given spiritual leadership responsibilities yet neglect them. In some ways each of us have spiritual leadership expectations. I am not sure if the Savior cares much about what the leadership opportunities are that we hold, he cares more about the fruits of our labor. Are we producing with what we have been given no matter how small the allocation? The fig tree was only to produce fruit, the leadership at the temple was to produce salvation of the souls of men. That is large spectrum, both however were cursed by the Lord for their failure to act in the office they had been given. Large or small we are all accountable for what we have been given. Let us use it wisely.

Subsequent to these two stories the Savior returns multiple times to the temple to teach. It is clear that the temple is a choice place for learning. It had to be cleansed, but once clean it became the university of the Lord in the final few days of his life on earth.

Of note today:
Obama: Christ's travails put others in perspective

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