Palm Sunday was a time of great joy for Jesus’ disciples. The people threw Palm branches, sang songs, shouted Hosanna and praised God for the coming of the Messiah. But, Jesus knew what was coming next. By the end of the week He would be dead.
On His way to the cross, Jesus addressed the failure of the spiritual leaders. They were supposed to lead others to truth and holiness but had become greedy and self centered. Instead of leading people to God, they were using the people to support their extravagant lifestyles. Jesus condemned them in the harshest terms.
The day after He entered Jerusalem, He went to a fig tree. When He saw that it had no figs on it, He shockingly lashed out and cursed it. The next time they passed the tree, Peter noticed it:
“They saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. Being reminded, Peter said to Him, ‘Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered.’”
It’s hard to overstate the importance of what that tree represents. Throughout Jewish history, the fig tree represented the spiritual leadership of the nation. Yes, that means those same spiritual leaders that Jesus lambasted in Matthew 23 with the repeated phrase, “Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees.”
You see, they were the problem. “Woe” means to curse them. It is not polite nor is it mild. It is a condemnation of eternal judgment. That fig tree illustrated what Jesus was going to do to the temple system in just a few days. When they nailed Him to the cross, those spiritual leaders signed their own death warrant. Their whole system was about to come crashing down.
“As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.’”
The covenant of the law was ending and the age of Grace was underway. The death and resurrection of Jesus would redeem mankind, deliver us from our bondage to sin and defeat death once and for all. Amen!