The Reading: Matthew 21:18-21
“… say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,” (v.9) RSV
Last week we read of Jesus’ anger at the money changers in the Temple. Today we read of Jesus cursing the fig tree. Is our understanding of Jesus starting to change? Have we always thought that he was a rather generous ‘push-over’? Have we been taught that he only did and said ‘nice’ things? Well, the scriptures bear witness to a somewhat alarming toughness about Jesus.
Often people would not ask him questions because his answer might be more than they bargained for. People came up to Jesus and said: “Teacher, we know that you are true, and teach the way of God truthfully, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men.” (Matthew 22:16). In other words Jesus would speak his mind, and that can be an unnerving thing. Don’t ask him a question if you are not prepared for an honest answer!
Anyway, Jesus cannot be boxed up and he is not ‘safe’. Today we see him enacting a parable by cursing a fig tree. The fig tree was sacrificed for a higher purpose. God requires no less of us; we too serve his loving plan and purpose; it may cost us dearly.
One of the purposes of the cursing was to demonstrate the authority given to his followers. If we speak in accordance with his will then we speak with his authority. We cooperate with him to bring about great things. We can even “say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea’.” (v.9). We are God’s agent to speak forth his word with authority. See what Matthew also records about moving a mountain: “… if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain …” (Matthew 17:20).
Lord, I have often restricted what you have been able to do through me. Help me to believe your promises and the promptings of your Spirit, and to speak forth your word. Amen.
1 How did God create the world?
Genesis 1:3, 6 , 9, 14, 20, 24 Hebrews 11:3
2 How did Jesus do his miracles?
Matthew 8:3, 8:26, 9:6, 12:13 (a few examples)