Jesus came to cleanse more than temples. We read yesterday of Jesus triumphal arrival to Jerusalem. When he came to the temple he turned over the tables of those changing money and the seats of those selling pigeons. He reclaimed a place in God’s temple for the unclean. And the blind and lame came to him in the temple and he healed them. Jesus had come to bring far more than a physical healing or a physical cleansing. He has come to do a spiritual work. He immediately sets about that work with teaching and confrontation.
He cursed a fig tree which bore no fruit and it withered. He had come to it expecting fruit, but there was no fruit. It’s time had passed. It was symbolic of the nation of Israel and specifically her spiritual leadership. The messiah had come and it was time for Israel to bear spiritual fruit but the nation was all leaf and no fruit. They looked religious but their religion was empty. Jesus calls those who witnessed this to faith and to prayer.
Mat 21:21-22 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. (22) And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
Jesus’ authority was questioned by the priests and he demonstrated their inability to teach or actually exercise true spiritual discernment. They disqualified themselves. They showed their own fruitlessness. With the chief priests and elders of the people silenced, Jesus gives three parables.
The first was of a man with two sons. One said he would go work in the vineyard but did not and the other said he would not but did. Jesus asked “which of the two did the will of his father?” He has exposed the fruitlessness of their religious words devoid of true faithfulness to God.
Secondly he tells of a man who planted a vineyard and left it in charge of tenants. In due season he sent servants but instead of giving of the fruit of the vineyard the tenants beat and killed those servants in order to keep the fruit of the vineyard for themselves. Jesus is demonstrating that Israel’s spiritual leaders have not served God by ministering to his people but have instead seen God’s people as a means to achieve power and wealth and influence. In Jesus’ story the master of the vineyard then sends his son, whom the tenants also kill. Jesus knows they will soon take his life. Indeed the elders want to arrest him now but don’t for fear of the crowds.
So Jesus tells a third parable. This is the story of a king who threw a wedding feast for his son. He invited many, but they did not come. They were uninterested in the king or his son and cared more for their home life and their work. They did not have time for the king. He was angry and sent his armies against these rebellious subjects and instead invited all the people who would come from the streets. Many came and were included in the feast. But there was one who came who was not there for a wedding. He was not wearing the wedding garments. And in Jesus’ story that one was cast out.
That is what Jesus is doing. He has come to invite as many who will to come to the kingdom of his father. He is doing more than giving the invitation. He is providing the wedding garment. All those who come covered by Jesus’ sacrifice will come clothed into the feast. Jesus has come to purify people.
Have you been purified by him? Have you laid aside your self righteousness? Have you laid aside your religious fervor? Have you laid aside your own spiritual knowledge and good deeds? None of these things will clothe you rightly for the feast. None of these things is true spiritual fruit. That fruit is borne from faith. Come today by faith in Jesus Christ. He has come to make you ready.