Things are starting to come together. The end is nigh and the countdown is beginning. This chapter begins with the triumphal entry. Jesus enters Jerusalem for His / the final passover. The disciples find the colt as He predicts. He rides the colt into Jerusalem with the bystanders worshiping YHWH and giving Him adoration calling for Him to fulfill His mission as Messiah to save them and desiring Him to free them from Roman tyranny. However, as is the case quite often, our expectations of what YHWH should do, and what He does, are two different things. Even when we have the same message / prediction.
Christ comes in and begins the process of redemption and rescue from tyranny… He drives the money changers and the seats of those who were selling in the temple. Those who were turning His Father’s house into a den of thieves.
The next morning he was hungry and came upon a barren fig tree. It should have had fruit, but it didn’t. He cursed it, and it began to wither and die. This is a great analogy of the pharisees. They too are not bearing fruit to righteousness. As a result, they begin to wither and die as Christ sacrifices Himself to build the church.
The rest of this chapter is focused on this dynamic action – reaction of Jesus and the Pharisees. They challenge His authority wanting to know what right He has to teach preach, and do these things. Christ in turn He puts their actions and those of sinners into perspective. He shows that knowing the law and being sinless are two very different things, and He criticizes them for it.
Jesus continues with another parable about a landowner who builds a vineyard, rents it out to vine-dressers, and sends his servants out to collect the fruits of the vineyard. The vine-dressers instead beat the representatives and eventually kill the owner’s son. This is the final truth of their relationship. The pharisees will kill the landowner’s son, but the landowner will destroy the vine-dressers and redeem His people.
The relationship between Jesus and the pharisees is such a contrast. Jesus cares for the fruit of the vine, while most of the Pharisees care more about what they can get from the fruit than they do about caring for the fruit. They are killing the vineyard from the inside out, and they just didn’t seem to care. This dynamic seems to define and explain all that follows. It is the reason and purpose for all that follows.
This is a key turning point in Jesus ministry and the pharisees focus when it comes to Jesus.
Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.