Looks Can Be Deceiving – Matthew 21:18-32

The incident with the fig tree seems to be less about food and more of a real life parable about the people Jesus was about to be confronted by.

  • V19 – The note in the ESV Bible says “Since the fruit of the fig tree begins to appear about the same time as the leaves (or a little thereafter), the appearance of leaves in full bloom should have indicated that fruit (in the form of green figs) was already growing.  Jesus’ actions here have symbolic importance, signifying the hypocrisy of all who have the appearance that they are bearing fruit but in fact are not (Hos 9:10-17).

◊ Do I look like I am or should be bearing fruit for God’s kingdom when really I am not?

  • V20 – They really shouldn’t be surprised by anything now since Jesus has already proven at least twice (8:23-27), 14:22-33) that He has authority over nature.  However, their wonder at His authority shows that they’re not taking Him for granted.

◊ Am I moved and in awe when Jesus works miracles in my life or do I expect them and think I’m entitled to them?  Where’s the line between confidence that we have been give authority through the Spirit, with God all things are possible, and that we have a good Father who pours His love out on us in surprising ways and a sense of entitlement and lack of awe?  It boils down to who is getting the glory, I guess.

  • V21-22 – This is a repeated statement (17:20).  He really means it!  Was it directed specifically to the disciples only or meant for all believers?

◊ Help us to understand the authority given through Your Spirit and help us to use it to bring You glory.  Give us more faith!

  • V23 – The ESV note says “These things most likely refers to Jesus’ disrupting of the commercial activities of the temple the previous day, and also to His authority to heal and to teach in the temple, because He is neither an official priestly nor scribal authority.”
  • V24 – Everything is always on His terms.

◊ Some people ask questions about the Bible because they sincerely want to understand, some just to be argumentative or to try to trap me or shake my own faith.  How can I respond to the latter in a Christlike way?

  • V25-27 – The elders were less interested in considering what they actually believed and what was truth than they were in giving the “right answer.”

◊ Do I approach my Bible study time with a fill-in-the-blanks-and-get-the-right-answer attitude or do I actually stop and think about what the implications of what I just read might be for me?

  • V27 – He knows the answer will just make them mad and they won’t believe Him anyway.
  • F28 – He’s still talking to the elders but the crowds are also still listening.
  • V28-31 – He’s so good at telling these short parables that make His point so clear.  There’s only one way the elders can answer without looking like idiots.

◊ Am I obeying with just my mouth or also with my actions?

  • V31-32 – Ouch.  That had to have made them see red!
  • V31 – The Father’s will was active obedience, not verbal promises.
  • V32 – Of course, they wouldn’t still be prostitutes or crooked tax collectors if they had received John’s message and started following Jesus.  That’s just what they started out as.

Wrap up your quiet time by praying through the following questions:

  • Based on this passage of Scripture, what can I thank God for?
  • What do these verses tell me about God and His character?
  • Based on this passage, is there anything I need to confess to God and ask forgiveness for?
  • What do these verses remind me to pray for others?
  • What do these verses move me to pray for myself?

About knockinguntilitopens

I am a Christ follower, a wife, a mom, and a creator. I like to share my stuff.
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