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We conclude What is the Meaning of Palm Sunday by applying their conflict to our lives as Christians, today. 

What Is The Meaning Of Palm Sunday-2

Continued from What Is The Meaning Of Palm Sunday

2. The Crop: I believe it was this spiritual fruitlessness of Israel's religious leaders that led to Jesus killing the fig tree. Many a commentary ponders this story as if it doesn't fit in the gospel. Why would Jesus kill a tree for not bearing fruit in the spring? I've heard modern-day religious leaders use the fig tree as a reason to suspect the gospels, because it's foreign to the nature of God to kill something out of selfish motives. Well, they must be assuming they can gauge the motives of God. I believe His motives were not selfish. For me, the tree represents Israel, who, after 1,500 years, should have produced the fruit of blessing to all the nations of the world. Instead, it chose isolationism, idolatry, and finally, religious cultism and hypocrisy. Once, God's Chosen people, by the time of Christ…His bitter enemy. Once, the Vine God would use to bless the world, now…a fruitless, dead fig tree. Maybe this fig tree was a reminder to the disciples of what John the baptizer said, "the ax is at the root. Any tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down." Maybe Jesus wanted to add an object lesson to His story of the fruitless fig tree that got fertilized and cultivated for one final year to give it the best chance to produce fruit…"if not, then cut it down." I believe by killing the fig tree, Jesus was visually announcing the fate of Israel.

Unlike Israel, then, we must pay attention to the lesson of the fig tree. Too many of us who profess to follow God, like Israel, do so only because it serves our political, financial, or social interests. Too many of us, like Israel, follow visible religious leaders, rather than the invisible God. Too many of our religious leaders, like theirs, would kill any move of God, rather than risk their position of honor and authority. Jesus said fruitless trees like these will be cut down. Too many of our religious leaders, like theirs, care more about our money than our ministry needs. That brings us to our final point…

3. The Crooks: There is no better place to hurt religious leaders than at their profit center. Maybe that's why Jesus chose the money-changing tables. Many today understand these tables to be places of routine business, and, therefore, a defilement of the temple of God. In fact, the defilement goes much deeper. You couldn't worship God according to their custom, without giving a special coin, called the "sanctuary shekel" and offering a special animal, approved by Priests. This is where the money changers came in. Though it's not spelled out in Scripture, it's rather widely believed that the money-changers were relatives of the priests who sold shekels for much more than they were worth in whatever currency the worshiper had with him. The priests, it's believed, would declare any animal brought to Jerusalem unfit for offering. Of course, the money-changers would be happy to buy defective animals at a discount and sell "pre-approved" offerings at a premium, so you can worship. Think about that! People coming to worship God, being denied their opportunity unless they paid more than God had asked of them.

Can you imagine, being denied the opportunity to join with others in worship because you hadn't given a certain amount of money to some human? Can you imagine not being allowed to serve God because some power-hungry group decided you had to give more than God had told you to give? Can you see why Jesus overturned the tables and called the religious leaders thieves? They'd taken people's love for God and held it as a hostage for ransom. God forbid! He did forbid! He even whipped 'em and kicked 'em out..

Many years have come and gone since Jesus overturned those tables, since He killed that fig tree and since He rode into Jerusalem as the new King. They were his first acts to overturn the old worldly kingdom by forcing them to action for one side or the other. We celebrate the action they took every Easter, because, in trying to protect the old kingdom, they ushered in the New. Yet much of the old kingdom has returned, only with new names. The Bible says Jesus is the same today as He was then. Though ancient Jerusalem seems distant and foreign, we're no different, either. Even those of us who profess to follow Jesus, cling to the worldly trappings of religion and power, rather than the Spiritual reality of His kingdom. Jesus said, back then, that the day had come when people would no longer go to a place to worship God, but His true worshipers would worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. As we march toward this year's celebration of His victory, let's stay committed to His Spiritual Kingdom. Let's not be distracted by worldly kingdoms, discouraged by fruitless, worldly priests or deceived by worldly crooks, claiming we have to pay them to get a "share" of God. Let's continue to worship Him in Spirit and Truth.

Dear God. Help us to see past this world into your kingdom. Help us live in the reality of you. Free us from man's worldly religion. Let us continue to live free, in you. Pour your Spirit out upon us God and expand us, Spiritually, so that worldly kingdoms and authority and religions no longer fit. Instead of paying our dues to man's religion, let us give all of ourselves to you, just as you have given all of yourself to us.

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