Devotional #29 (4/15/13). Hosanna and a fig tree.
Intro: Last week several disciples jockeyed for position to help Jesus overthrow the Romans. Also a blind man received healing because of his faith. These two stories will help us understand Jesus’ purpose as Messiah here in the first half of chapter 11.
This Week’s Reading: Mark 11:1-14.
vv. 1-3. Jesus tells two disciples to go and get a colt and bring it back to Him. If anyone questioned them they were supposed to say that the Master needed it. I have heard people say that some time before this Jesus had paid for the colt and told the owner He would send two guys to get it later. I don’t know if this is because people don’t like to think that Jesus stole a colt or what but since it doesn’t say exactly it seems possible that it was a miracle. He very easily could have known where the colt was, sent the guys and the owner be OK with it. Either way we’ll see the reason for it in the next set of verses.
vv. 4-7. Just as Jesus said it would happen people asked the disciples where they were going and they answered as Jesus told them. They were fine with it and the disciples brought it back to Jesus. Matthew explains why Jesus did this. It was to fulfill Scripture about Himself (Matthew 21:4-5). Notice Jesus directed how he came into Jerusalem by picking a colt. “He deliberately chose a young horse, not a stallion, not a donkey, not coming on foot. This is because in that day, to come riding a colt- as opposed to a mighty war-horse – was to come as a man of peace. Jesus didn’t come to Jerusalem as a conquering general, but as a suffering – though triumphant – servant” (Source 1).
vv. 8-10.This is where we get “Palm Sunday” from. The people put down their clothes (which was a sacrifice because they didn’t have many changes of clothes and they were expensive), this was like a “red carpet” for Him. The tree branches signify “joy and salvation” and will be used in the future (Rev. 7:9) for Christ (Source 2). “Hosanna” means “save now!” so when the people called this out they were saying they wanted Jesus to conquer Rome.
v. 11. It is interesting because as He entered the city the people would have wanted him to go right towards the Antonia (or Antonio) Fortress to overthrow where the Romans were set up (Source 3). But He goes left towards the temple, this is significant because this was 6 days before Passover when the priests were bringing the sacrificial sheep into the temple. Jesus was offering Himself as the sacrificial sheep at that exact time. Here Mark leaves out that Jesus threw out the businessmen (“moneychangers”) which is important to understand the next part. Read Matthew 21:12-16 for the specifics but Jesus was angered that people were committing fraud in the temple and the religious leaders were OK with it. Not only that but when He healed people in the temple the religious leaders were mad at Him.
vv. 12-14. As mentioned above the gospel of Matthew helps us see the whole picture (see Mt. 21:18-22) here. Jesus was hungry and saw a fig tree with full leaves but no fruit. It was a picture of religious people who, on the outside present themselves as good and godly but really there is no fruit. A Christian will be known by God working through them and blessing others. That is the fruit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. So here Jesus gives the disciples an example of how the religious leaders paraded around with “big leaves” but since they had no “fruit” they would wither and die. The disciples are amazed that the tree, cursed by Jesus, would shrivel before their very eyes. Interesting that they are still amazed that Jesus controlled nature after they’ve seen so many examples (calming the storm, walking on water etc.).
Conclusion: Jesus was the Messiah but not in the way the people expected or wanted. As always Jesus was more concerned with their eternal wellbeing instead of the temporary, earthly comfort. If we are a Christian then we should be praying for (and seeing) changes in our lives as we long to help others, make the Christ known and not be hypocrites.
Source 2: John MacArthur, MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1485.
Source 3: Sermon by Troy VanderWende on March 24, 2013.