Immediately after this, having driven out the money changers, he passes by this fig tree. We’re told that he was hungry and he went to it. But since he found nothing on it he cursed it saying, “May you never bear fruit again,” and the fig tree withered. What’s that all about? That’s an unusual story, isn’t it?
Isn’t it interesting? These religious leaders, the ones who were behind all of this and for whom it was profitable, would in that day have looked down on Matthew the tax collector. They would have said, “That Jew has sold out to the Roman armies for money.” They would have had nothing to do with him, politically, socially, or religiously. Why, they wouldn’t have let Matthew even come into the temple enclosure.
When we continue to trace the theme of money through Matthew’s Gospel, we see that there was also instruction in Jesus’ words for the sending out of the twelve that you have in the tenth chapter. He told them on that occasion not to be concerned about money, not to take an extra cloak with them or an extra pair of shoes, but, rather, to trust the Lord to provide these things through the people to whom they would minister and in whose homes they would stay.
We’re continuing our study of these stories in Matthew’s Gospel that tell of encounters between the Lord Jesus Christ and certain individuals. So far we’ve been looking mostly at his encounter with individual people. But in the twenty-first chapter we come to a story of his encounter with a whole group of people—the money changers in the temple in Jerusalem, and also the chief priests and the teachers of the law, who stood behind the practice of the money changers.
I said earlier there were three questions, and I’ve treated two of them. The first was “What good thing must I do?” asked by the rich young man. The second was “Who then can be saved?” posed by the disciples in reaction to the man’s departure. After this, Peter butts in and he asks the third question, which is what wraps up the chapter. Peter’s question is this: “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
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