TRADING THE FRUIT OF THE TREES FOR HIDING IN THE MIDST OF THEM: TRADING THE FRUIT OF THE FIG TREE FOR THE LEAVES OF THE FIG TREE

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by the apostle Matthew. More specifically today’s passage is found in the twenty-second chapter of this New Testament book. “And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise; and the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: and he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:1-14).

 

            “Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way” (Matthew 22:15-22).

 

            “The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? For they all had her. Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine” (Matthew 22:23-33).

 

            “But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:34-40).

 

            “While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions” (Matthew 22:41-45).

 

            When you come to the twenty-second chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find it beginning and opening with another parable Jesus taught as His disciples walked with and followed Him. If you take the time to ready and study the four New Testament gospels you will find that one of Jesus’ most popular and familiar means of teaching—particularly when speaking unto the masses and multitudes was in parables. With this being said, however, it is also necessary for us to recognize and understand that Jesus also taught in parables when He was in private with His own disciples. There were parables the Lord Jesus taught when speaking unto the multitudes and there were other parables the Lord Jesus would speak in private when He was alone with His disciples. As you come to the twenty-second chapter of this New Testament gospel you will find the Lord Jesus delivering yet another parable concerning the kingdom of heaven. Perhaps one of the greatest truths we must needs recognize when considering the parables which the Lord Jesus taught it’s that many of the parables were designed and used to teach principles and truths concerning the kingdom of heaven. It is absolutely impossible to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and not encounter and come face to face with the incredible truth that this was yet another parable the Lord Jesus taught and spoke concerning the kingdom of heaven. How absolutely astonishing and captivating it is to think about and consider the awesome reality of the parables Jesus spoke and how He came to the earth in the form of flesh and blood teaching and preaching the truth concerning the kingdom of heaven.

 

            In chapters five through seven of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find the Lord Jesus teaching and speaking concerning the kingdom of heaven—and not only concerning the kingdom of heaven but also the righteousness of the kingdom. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the reality of the kingdom of heaven as it was understood—and not only understood but also taught by the Lord Jesus. There is a great need for us to recognize and pay attention to the words Jesus spoke—particularly when speaking concerning the kingdom of heaven. You cannot read the four New Testament gospels without encountering and coming face to face with the strong reality concerning the kingdom of heaven and Jesus’ understanding of it. The more you read the four gospel narratives the more you can and will encounter the tremendous truth concerning the kingdom of heaven and how the Lord Jesus would teach His disciples and the multitudes concerning the kingdom of heaven. When He walked upon us in the form of flesh and blood the Lord Jesus deliberately and intentionally sought to teach His disciples the truth concerning the multitudes. What’s more is that not only would Jesus teach the disciples concerning the kingdom of heaven but He would also teach those in the midst of the crowds and multitudes who had ears to hear the truth of the kingdom of heaven. It’s important for us to recognize and understand the Lord Jesus didn’t come concealing the kingdom of heaven from the hearts and minds of His disciples and followers but rather chose to reveal it unto the honest and seeking heart.

 

            Upon coming to the twenty-second chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we encounter the incredible truth surrounding the kingdom of heaven and the parable the Lord Jesus spoke concerning it. If you begin reading with and from the first and opening verse of this chapter you will find Jesus responding to the chief priests and Pharisees when they heard His parables and teaching another one. In order to truly understand the words and language which is found in the twenty-second chapter of this New Testament gospel I am absolutely convinced we must needs pay close attention to the words found in the previous chapter. There is not a doubt in my mind that when you read the words which are found in the twenty-first chapter of this New Testament gospel you can and will understand how and why the Lord Jesus would teach and speak in parables. Perhaps one of the greatest truths found in this passage of Scripture is when you consider how this parable was not spoken unto the disciples specifically but was spoken unto the Pharisees and the chief priests who had previously come unto Him seeking to find means to tempt and accuse Him. The sole reason the Lord Jesus taught and spoke this parable is because the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables and perceived how He had spoken the parables concerning them. What adds even more weight and meaning to this is when you consider how when they sought to lay hands on Him they feared the multitude because they took him for a prophet. There is a great and powerful need to recognize and pay close attention to the words presented in the previous chapter for they bring us face to face with the religion, the legalism, the hypocrisy and the accusation of religion and the religious leaders which were present during those days.

 

            If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the twenty-first chapter of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle Matthew you will find that after Jesus had cleansed the Temple and cursed the fig tree He would come again into the Temple. It would be there in the Temple the chief priests and the elders of the people would come unto Him as He was teaching. When the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto the Lord Jesus they would proceed to question Him concerning His previous actions. Scripture is unclear whether or not the chief priests and the elders beheld the Lord Jesus curse the fig tree, however, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt they witnessed and beheld Jesus’ actions in the Temple. One of the greatest things I can’t help but ask myself when reding the words found in this passage of Scripture is how many chief priests, how many elders of the people, how many scribes, how many Pharisees and even how many of the teachers of the Law He offended by and through His actions. How many people would the Lord Jesus offend when He entered into the Temple after coming into the city of Jerusalem meek and lowly riding on a donkey? How many of the religious elite would the Lord Jesus offend when He entered into the Temple and began wreaking havoc such as they had perhaps never seen before. The Lord Jesus would enter into the Temple of the living God and would be filled with a tremendous holy anger and holy frustration at what He witnessed and beheld in the midst of it. As a direct result of this Jesus would overturn the tables of money, would drive out those who bought and sold and even cast out those who were sellers of doves.

 

            The more you read the words which are found in the twenty-first chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative the more you can and will be brought face to face with the tremendous and incredible truth surrounding the Lord Jesus and His actions within the Temple. The Lord Jesus would enter into the city of Jerusalem meek and lowly riding on a donkey as the multitudes which went before Him and those who went behind would proclaim “Hosanna” and would proclaim Him to be the Son of David. Not only this but the multitudes would cast down palm branches and even their own garments before the Lord Jesus as He would pass through the streets of the city of Jerusalem. What we must needs understand, however, is the Lord Jesus would enter into the Temple not too long after this and would completely undo and overturn that which would take place in the midst of it. Jesus would enter into the court of the house of the living God and would watch the passing back and forth of money, would watch the selling of that which would and could be offered as a sacrifice and offering unto the living God. Jesus would enter into the Temple of the living God and see how despite the fact that it was ordained and appointed to be a house of prayer they had indeed turned and transformed it into a den of thieves. The Lord Jesus would emphatically declare unto those who were present on this particular day that His Father’s house was indeed to be a house of prayer and that they had turned and transformed it into a den of thieves. Not only this but they would allow commerce and merchandise to find its way into the Temple of the living God during those days. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous reality of the actions of the Lord Jesus during this particular time as He would enter into the Temple and completely undo and overturn that which they had engaged themselves in.

 

            What we find within the twenty-first chapter of this New Testament gospel is not only the Lord Jesus entering into the Temple and overturning the tables of money and driving out those who bought and sold in the midst of it but Jesus would also curse the fig tree when He came upon it. Scripture reveals how Jesus approached this fig tree hoping to find fruit on it and would come near it to find that it was barren and no fruit would be present upon it. Oh the fig tree would indeed have leaves upon it which would give the indication that it was indeed bearing fruit and yet the truth of the matter is that as Jesus came near it He would discover the real truth about it—namely that it would give the appearance from a distance that it was bearing and bringing forth fruit and yet when you got closer to it you realized it was doing anything but bearing fruit. In all reality this is precisely why many during those days would refer to the fig tree as “the hypocrite tree” for it would be a tree that would give the appearance of bearing and bringing forth fruit and yet could actually be completely barren. Pause for a moment and consider how absolutely incredible this truly is for it calls and draws our attention to the reality of the fig tree and how more often than not it was referred to and known as the hypocrite tree because it would give one appearance from a distance and yet when you drew closer to it you realized that it would actually be entirely and altogether barren.

 

            If there is something we must think about and consider when discussing the fig tree it’s how when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden and realized they were naked they proceeded to cover themselves. What we find within the third chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis is Adam and Eve gathering unto themselves fig leaves and proceeding to sew them together to fashion for themselves covering. Pause for a moment and consider how absolutely incredible this truly is for it suggests that fig trees have indeed and have in fact been around since the time of the garden. When you think about Adam and Eve hiding themselves in the midst of the trees of the garden it is unmistakable that one of those trees was indeed a fig tree. What’s more is I can’t help but wonder how many fig trees there might have been in the garden for them to take of the leaves and sew unto themselves garments made of fig leaves. Not only this but there is something to be said about trading the fruit of the fig tree for the leaves which cover and conceal the fruit. Adam and Eve could have partaken of the fruit of any and every tree in the garden which would include the fruit of the tree of life. What’s more is Adam and Eve could very well have eaten of the fruit of the fig tree which was present in the midst of the garden and enjoyed it according to the commandment of the Lord. What I can’t help but ask myself is whether or not Adam and Eve had indeed eaten of the fruit of the fig tree prior to eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They were given free reign to eat of the fruit of any tree in the garden save the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and this would have included the fig tree itself.

 

            THERE WAS A FIG TREE IN THE FIG TREE IN THE GARDEN! THERE WERE FIG TREES IN THE GARDEN! As I sit here today writing these words I can’t help but be brought face to face with the incredible truth that within the garden of Eden there must have undoubtedly been fig trees which were present in the midst of it. What I find myself wondering is how often they had eaten of the fruit of the fig tree prior to partaking of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Not only this but I can’t help but wonder why Adam and Eve had chosen the leaves from the fig tree to make coverings for themselves. What was it about the leaves which were present on the fig tree that caused them to choose these as their covering. How many other trees were present in the midst of the garden which themselves had leaves present upon them and yet Adam and Eve chose the leaves from the fig tree to make coverings for themselves. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that after and as a result of their sin they would trade partaking of the fruit of the fig tree for the leaves thereupon. Not only this but they would not only choose the leaves of the fig tree but they would choose those leaves to make coverings for themselves. What an incredible thought it is to think about Adam and Eve in the garden and how they perhaps partook of the fruit of the fig tree from that tree countless times in the past before going for the leaves this time.

 

            Having said this I feel it is absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the third chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis. The words which we find in the Old Testament book of Genesis call and draw our attention to the incredible reality of Adam and Eve sinning and transgressing against the commandment of the Lord by eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it brings us face to face with a powerful truth and how they would trade the fruit of the fig tree for the leaves of the fig tree. What’s more is not only would they trade the fruit of the fig trees for the leaves of the fig tree but they would do so after they sinned and transgressed against the command of the living God. Not only this but they would trade the fruit of the fig tree for the leaves of the fig tree that they might sew and make unto themselves garments to cover their nakedness—and not only their nakedness but also the shame of their nakedness. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider if you will the following words which are found in the second and third chapters of the Old Testament book of Genesis—beginning with the command given unto Adam from the LORD concerning the fruit of the trees of the garden of Eden and the transgression against the commandment of the LORD by both Adam and Eve. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the Old Testament book of Genesis beginning to read with and from the second chapter:

 

            “And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good: There is bdellium and the onyx stone. And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia. And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates. And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die(Genesis 2:8-17).

 

            It is here in this particular passage of Scripture we encounter the planting of the garden of Eden, the watering of the garden and even the dressing and car of the garden as the LORD would place Adam and Eve to look after, tend and care for the garden. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for within this passage of Scripture we find the commandment given unto Adam after He had placed him in the garden. Within this passage of Scripture we find the planting of the garden and the placing of the man—and not only the placing of the man but the placing of man that he might dress and keep the garden according to the plan and purpose of the living God. The living God would place the man within the garden and would do so that he might dress and keep it, however, his placement within the garden would not come without a commandment from the living God. The living God would indeed place man in the garden, however, He would give him a specific commandment. What we must needs recognize and consider is that while there was indeed a commandment given unto Adam there was also freedom. This freedom was not only the freedom to eat of every tree in the garden save the tree of the knowledge of good and evil but also the freedom to choose and make his own decision.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I can’t help but think about the narrative of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. The more I think about the narrative of the first man and woman in the garden of Eden the more I am brought face to face with the incredible truth that they were given freedom on two different fronts. It is indeed true they were given a commandment not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil yet they were given freedom on two different levels. Adam and Eve were given the freedom to be able to choose whether or not to obey the commandment of the living God—something we must needs recognize and consider. Not only this but we must also consider the fact that Adam and Eve were indeed given the freedom to partake of the fruit of every tree in the garden of Eden save one. Stop for a moment and consider how absolutely incredible this is—particularly when you think about how many trees there might have been in the garden itself. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for there is a part of me that wonders how many different trees in the garden there were. Not only this but I find myself wondering how long Adam and Eve had been in the garden of Eden before they sinned and transgressed against the commandment of the living God. How long had Adam and Eve dwelt in the midst of the garden eating and partaking of the fruit of each and every other tree before they disobeyed the commandment of the living God. Not only this but I find myself wondering if they had actually partaken of the fruit of every tree of the garden of Eden before they had sinned and transgressed against the commandment of the living God. Was it possible that Adam and Eve did in fact eat of the fruit of every tree in the garden before they would transgress against the commandment of God by eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

 

With this in mind I now invite you to turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the third chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis. It is in the third chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis we encounter the incredible truth surrounding Adam and Eve sinning and transgressing against the commandment of the living God. Here in the third chapter of this Old Testament book we find Adam and Eve sinning against the commandment of the living God by eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Not only did they sin against the commandment of the living God by eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil but they would also hide themselves from the presence of the LORd among the trees of the garden. Pause for a moment and consider how they would trade eating of the fruit of the trees of the garden for hiding among them and they would trade the fruit of the fig tree for the leaves. TRADING THE FRUIT OF THE TREES FOR HIDING IN THE MIDST OF THEM! TRADING THE FRUIT OF THE FIG TREE FOR THE LEAVES OF THE FIG TREE! We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding Adam and Eve in the garden and how they would trade the freedom to eat of the fruit of every tree in the garden of Eden save the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for hiding among the trees of the garden. Not only this but they would trade the fruit of the fig tree for the leaves of the fig tree that they might sew unto themselves garments to cover their nakedness.

 

            Adam and Eve would trade being able to eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden for hiding among them and they would trade the fruit of the fig tree for the leaves of the fig tree. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the wonderful truth surrounding Adam and Eve in the garden and the transgression they would commit against the commandment of the living God. What’s more is that as a direct result of their transgression of this commandment—not only would they find themselves hiding but they would also find themselves covering. Adam and Eve would trade the fruit of the fig tree for the leaves of the fig tree and would take of those leaves and sew unto themselves garments with which to cover themselves. Oh I have to admit there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if while they were getting fig leaves unto themselves they would bypass and leave the fruit for the sake of the leaves. Pause for a moment and consider the tremendous tragedy that surrounds—not only trading the fruit of the tree for the leaves but leaving the fruit on the tree while removing the leaves. What a tragic sight it must have been for Adam and Eve to hide themselves among the trees of the garden covered with the leaves of the fig tree rather than being able to continue freely eating of the fruit of the trees of the garden. This is something we have a great need to recognize and understand for it calls and draws our attention to the truth surrounding Adam and Eve and their transgression against the commandment of the living God—and not only their transgression against the commandment of the living God but also their feeble attempt to cover themselves and the shame of their nakedness.

 

            It is at this point I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the following words which are found in the third chapter of this Old Testament book. Within the third chapter of this Old Testament book we find the temptation of Eve, we find the transgression of the commandment of the living God, we find the attempted cover up using the leaves of the fig tree and we find Adam and Eve hiding themselves among the trees of the garden. Of course we know and understand that the LORD would call unto Adam in the cool of the day in the garden and would address the shame of their nakedness as well as their sin. The living God would make a sacrifice there in the midst of the garden that He might make unto them proper garments to cover their nakedness. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the third chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis beginning to read with and from the first verse:

 

            “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman who thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art curse above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of my life: and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins and clothed them. And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword, which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” (Genesis 3:1-24).

 

            I am absolutely convinced there is a great need for us to recognize and understand the words and language found in this passage of Scripture. The words which we find here call and draw our attention to the sin and transgression of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. What’s more is that not only does this passage draw our attention to the transgression of the first couple in the garden of Eden but it also calls our attention to their actions after they had transgressed against that commandment. Scripture reveals how immediately after they partook of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil their eyes were opened and they realized they were naked. Immediately after they realized they were naked they sewed fig leaves together that they might cover their nakedness and the shame of their nakedness. Not only this but once they would hear the voice of LORD God walking in the midst of the garden they would hide themselves among the trees of the garden. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding their actions after they had sinned. You will notice that after they sinned they would see and they would hear as they would see and behold their nakedness and they would hear the voice of the LORD God walking in the midst of the garden. Oh how absolutely incredible it is to think about and consider this and how Adam and Eve would hear and hide and see and cover. HEARING AND HIDING! SEEING AND COVERING!

 

The more I think about the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more I can’t help but think about the words which are found in the twenty-first chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. Within this passage of Scripture we find Jesus approaching a fig tree and looking for and desiring fruit being present upon it. From a distance it might very well have seemed like there was indeed fruit growing upon the tree, however, as Jesus drew nearer to it He would see that the appearance of this tree was deceiving. The Lord Jesus would look at this fig tree and see how there was no fruit on it and as a direct result of it He would curse the fig tree. Not only would the Lord Jesus curse the fig tree but He would also pronounce a tremendous woe and curse upon it that it might never again bear and bring forth fruit. This is something we have a great need of paying close attention when considering the words found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to what it was the Lord Jesus was indeed cursing. Did the Lord Jesus curse the fig tree itself or did he curse the fig tree and what it represented? There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder whether or not the Lord Jesus cursed the fig tree because it had no fruit upon it or whether or not he cursed it because of the false appearance of fruit. One of the greatest truths we must needs recognize and understand concerning the fig tree is that it was indeed known as the hypocrite tree for it would give the appearance of bearing and bringing forth fruit and yet there would be times when there would be no fruit growing upon it.

 

            We know from reading the Scriptures how the fig tree represented the nation and people of Israel and how the Lord Jesus came unto it looking for fruit. We also know that the fig tree represents the city of Jerusalem and how Jesus would come unto the city of Jerusalem looking for and desiring fruit. What makes this passage all the more intriguing is when you think about and consider the fact that while it was indeed true they cut palm branches and strawed them along the way as Jesus entered into the city of Jerusalem it would be the false appearance of fruit in the presence of the Lord Jesus and in the sight of the Lord Jesus. Even when you saw the Temple from a distance you would think that it would bear fruit and bring forth that which the living God desired within His heart. The truth of the matter, however, is that as Jesus entered into the Temple He would find anything but the fruit of righteousness and the fruit of worship. The Lord Jesus would enter into the Temple and instead of finding fruit pleasing unto and in the sight of the living God He would find tables of money, those who bought and sold, as well as all types of merchandise which would and could be used to present offerings and sacrifices unto the living God. I can’t help but wonder if the Temple itself was very much like the fig tree giving the appearance from a distance that it was bearing and bringing forth fruit and yet just like the fig tree was nothing more than leaves. I sit here today thinking about and considering the tremendous truth surrounding the fig tree and I find myself thinking about how closely aligned the fig tree and the Temple were.

 

            As you read the words which are found within this passage you will find the Lord Jesus cleansing the Temple as He overturned the tables of money, drove out the money changers and cast out all those who bought and sold. Immediately after this the Lord Jesus would come upon a fig tree which he would desire fruit from upon approaching it. The closer He came to the fig tree, however, the more Jesus would realize that there was absolutely no fruit upon it. There is a part of me that wonders if part of the reason why Jesus cursed the fig tree upon seeing it bore not fruit is He was remembering the garden of Eden. I firmly believe there was at least one fig tree within the garden of Eden and that Adam and Eve undoubtedly ate and partook of the fruit of that tree. I will admit there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if Adam and Eve by some chance did not eat of the fruit of the fig tree and instead of eating of the fruit of the fig tree they took of its leaves to make for themselves a covering. When they could have freely eaten of the fruit of the fig tree they instead chose to take its leaves and sew themselves together to make for themselves garments to cover their own shame and nakedness. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding Adam and Eve in the garden and their taking of the leaves of the fig tree and sowing them together that they might make man-made garments and coverings for themselves.

 

            When the Lord Jesus cursed the fig tree on this particular day there is a part of me that wonders whether or not Jesus wasn’t merely cursing the fig tree itself but cursing the appearance of bearing and bringing forth fruit and being nothing more than barren. I can’t help but wonder if the Lord Jesus did more than curse the fig tree and actually cursed man’s attempt to make for himself his own covering and garment to hide his shame, his guilt, and his nakedness in the sight of the living God. Not only this but there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if the garments and robes the religious elite wore during those days was nothing more than modern day garments made from fig leaves. Of course we know that their garments weren’t actually made from fig leaves, however, we must needs consider that just as the leaves of the fig tree could conceal the absence of fruit upon the fig tree so also could their garments conceal the absence of fruit within their lives. Just as the leaves upon a fig tree would and could conceal the absence of fruit within and upon the tree so also would their garments give the appearance that they were bearing and bringing forth fruit when in all reality there was anything but fruit. Oh this is something we have a great need of recognizing and paying close attention to for it calls and draws our attention to the astonishing truth surrounding the Lord Jesus cursing this fig tree. The Lord Jesus would indeed curse the fig tree, however, I am absolutely convinced He would curse more than just the fig tree. I firmly believe the Lord Jesus would curse man’s attempt to conceal the absence of fruit within their lives. The Lord’s cursing of the fig tree would indeed be about more than just a physical tree that was barren and bore no fruit and was about the lives of men and women who are barren and bring forth not fruit before and in the sight of the living God.

 

            I am absolutely and completely convinced we must needs recognize and understand the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it brings us face to face with a nation that might very well have given the appearance of bearing fruit and yet was entirely and altogether barren. What’s more is that not only was the fig tree a symbol and picture of a nation that gave the appearance of bearing fruit and yet was barren but also the religious leaders who gave the appearance of fruit and even righteousness in the sight of the living God. The chief priests, the scribes, the elders of the people, the Pharisees and the like gave the appearance that they bore fruit in the sight of the living God—and even that they were righteous in the sight of the living God. We must needs pay close attention to this for Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple and Jesus’ cursing of the fig tree carried with them greater implications than simply the Temple and the fig tree themselves. We must needs recognize and understand that Jesus’ cursing of the fig tree was indeed an incredibly strong and powerful picture of His cursing that which attempts to conceal the absence of fruit while giving the appearance that there was indeed fruit. This was something the scribes, the chief priests, the elders of the people, the Pharisees and the like were incredibly good at doing. We must needs recognize and understand that the religious leaders of that day and generation were incredibly good at giving the appearance of bearing and bringing forth fruit and yet they were nothing more than barren trees with the false appearance of fruit within their lives. Jesus’ cursing of the fig tree would not only be an indictment against the Temple which stood upon the Temple Mount but it would also be an indictment against the religious elite and system of that day.

 

            Jesus would indeed curse the fig tree which He came upon looking for and expecting fruit and would instead find it barren. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it helps set the stage for what we find immediately thereafter. As you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will encounter different interactions between Jesus and the chief priests, the elders of the people, the scribes and the Pharisees. The chief priests and the elders of the people would come unto Jesus asking Him by what authority He did such things and He would proceed to ask them a question about the baptism of John. Not only this but the Lord Jesus would emphatically declare that the publicans and the harlots would enter into the kingdom of heaven before the religious elite would because they believed John who came in the way of righteousness while the religious elite did not. What’s more is that Jesus would proceed to deliver another parable concerning a certain householder which planted a vineyard, hedge it round about, digged a winepress in it, built a tower and left it unto. Husbandmen and went into a far country. When the time of the fruit drew near He sent his servants unto the husbandmen that they might receive the fruits of it. These husbandmen, however would take his servants and beat one while killing another, and stoning another. Moreover this householder would send other servants more than the first and they would do unto them likewise. At least the householder would send his own son thinking they would respect his son. When the husbandmen saw the son, however, they conspired among themselves concerning this one who was the heir and proceeded to kill him and seize upon his inheritance. They would come upon him, catch him and cast him out of the vineyard and slaughter him. What makes this all the more intriguing is when you consider the question the Lord would ask in response to this for He would ask the religious elite what the lord of the vineyard would do unto the husbandmen.

 

            If there is one thing which makes the words found in the twenty-first chapter of this New Testament gospel so incredibly intriguing when you take the time to consider it it’s how once again we find the mention of fruit. In all reality you cannot read the four gospel narratives and expect to escape the call and invitation to bear fruit. If you were looking to read the four gospel narrative accounts of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ and somehow avoid the need to bear fruit within your life you are absolutely and sorely mistaken. From as early as the Sermon on the Mount we find the Lord Jesus emphatically declaring of the false prophets that it is by their fruits they would be known. What makes this all the more intriguing when you take the time to think about it is when you consider how this doesn’t merely apply to the false prophets Jesus spoke of but even His disciples and followers. There must needs be a tremendous recognition within our hearts and lives that we have indeed been called to bear and bring forth fruit—a reality which is indeed found even in the parable of the sower. It is in the parable of the sower we find the Lord Jesus Christ speaking of the seed which a sower went out and sowed in the earth and yet sowed on four different types of soil. This sower would sow seed upon the wayside which would bring forth no fruit because the fowl of the air would come down and devour the seed. The sower would sow seed among the stony ground and the seed would actually bring forth fruit, however, because there was no depth to it the seed would wither and fade away as a result of the scorching sun. This sower would also sow seed among the thorny ground and that seed would indeed spring forth fruit. The trouble with this fruit, however, is that when it sprang forth the thorns would choke the life out of it. Finally the sower sowed seed in the good soil and it would bring forth fruit—some an hundred, some sixty and some thirty.

 

            I find it absolutely incredible how the final verses of the twenty-first chapter describe a parable which the Lord Jesus would teach and speak concerning a certain vineyard which was planted and when the time of fruit came the householder of the vineyard sought to gather the fruit of the vineyard. The underlying trouble within the parable Jesus spoke was that the householder sent servants on two different occasions seeking to gather the fruit of the vineyard. The husbandmen who were given charge over the vineyard, however, spitefully treated the husbandmen and beat some, stoned others and killed others. Finally the household would send his own son thinking they would reverence his son only to find these husbandmen being more crooked and vile than he had thought. Not only did the husbandmen conspire together against the son of the householder but they also caught him and put him to death hoping to seize control of the vineyard for themselves. By the time the twenty-first chapter draws to a close we find the Pharisees, the chief priests and the religious leaders recognizing how Jesus spoke this parable concerning and unto them. This would completely and utterly infuriate them and as a result of this anger they would seek to utterly destroy Jesus and lay hands on Him. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the truth surrounding the religious leaders of that day and how the LORD God looked for and desired fruit to be present among them and yet found nothing more than religious fig leaves concealing, hiding and masquerading the absence of fruit within their lives. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this particular truth and how it helps encapsulate and capture the tremendous truth surrounding the words Jesus spoke when you come to the twenty-second chapter of this same New Testament gospel.

 

 

            When you come to the twenty-second chapter of this New Testament gospel you will find Jesus still speaking unto the Pharisees and the religious leaders of that day. At this particular juncture we find the Lord Jesus answering and responding to the Pharisees—and not only responding unto the Pharisees but also the religious leaders—speaking and declaring unto them another parable. Jesus would emphatically declare how the kingdom of heaven was like unto a certain king which made a marriage for his son and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding. Much to the chagrin, surprise and shock of the king the servants who were called and bidden unto the wedding would not come. When the king realized those whom he had bidden had. Not come he sent forth other servants saying unto them, “Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I haver prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.” The king would not only extend one invitation but would extend a second invitation unto those who were bidden to come unto the marriage. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for when we come to the conclusion of this parable and the words the Lord Jesus would speak we find Him declaring how many are called but few are chosen. Within this parable we first encounter the truth and reality of those who were called by the king to come unto the wedding and marriage. This king would send forth his servants on two different occasions calling and inviting those who had been bidden to come unto the wedding and yet they would not come. Not only this but within the parable we also find how those who were bidden made light of it and went their ways—one to his farm, another to his merchandise.

 

            As you continue reading the words which are found within this parable you will find that the remnant of those who remained after others went to their farm and others went to their merchandise took the servants which the. King sent, entreated them spitefully and slew them. What makes this all the more captivating when you think about and consider it is when you read Jesus’ words and how the king would hear of how those who would not come treated his servants and was wroth. What’s more is that not only was the king wroth with those who spitefully entreated and slew his servants but he also sent forth his armies, destroyed those murderers and burnt up their city. What we must needs recognize and understand within this parable is how it was another picture concerning the chief priests, the scribes, the Pharisees, the elders of the people and the religious leaders. Within this parable we not only find a picture of those who despised and rejected the invitation to the marriage and to the wedding but we also find a picture of those who spitefully entreated the servants of the king and slaughtered them. In response to their slaughtering of his servants the king would send forth his armies, put to death those murderers and burn their city. Of course we know and understand that this had already happened once within the history of the Jewish people as the living God would send forth the armies of the Babylonian and Chaldeans unto the city of Jerusalem to put to death those who were destined to the sword while also destroying and burning the city and the Temple which was present in the midst of it. What’s more is that what would happen in the year 586 BC would happen again in the year 70 AD when once more the living God would send forth His armies to not only put to death those who murdered His Son but would also allow the city to be utterly destroyed and the Temple once more destroyed by fire.

 

            When I read the words found in this particular parable—and not only this parable but also the previous parable—I find a picture of those who were called to present fruit unto the lord of the vineyard and yet not only spitefully entreated the servants of the householder but also slaughtered and put to death the son whom he would send. Although the parable in the final verses of the twenty-first chapter doesn’t present the lord of the vineyard sending forth his armies to slaughter and put to death those murderers who slaughtered his son the parable found in the twenty-second chapter would present and reveal unto us this reality. It is in the twenty-second chapter of this New Testament gospel narrative we encounter and come face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding the king who would send forth his armies to put to death those who murdered his servants and to burn their city. What’s important to recognize and understand when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture is how this parable describes two different periods of time. On the one hand these parables described the time of the ancient Hebrew prophets who rose early speaking forth the words of God and warning the people. Those in the northern kingdom of Israel and those in the southern kingdom of Judah, however, would spitefully treat them and would ultimately put them to death to silence their voices and the message they spoke. It would be as a direct result of this the living God would send forth His armies—the Chaldeans—to not only invade the land and capture the fortified cities but also burn the city of Jerusalem together with its walls and gates before ultimately and finally destroying the Temple and burning it to the ground.

 

            We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it calls and draws our attention to two distinct time periods within Jewish history. There was the time of the prophets when the LORD would send His servants who would rise up early inviting men and women unto the LORD and desiring of them fruit unto righteousness and repentance. There would, however, be another time period when it wouldn’t be the prophets of the living God who were the servants in the parables of Jesus but rather the Son of the living God. The more you read these parables the more you will encounter and come face to face with the fact that there would be a second invitation given unto those who were present during the days of Jesus. The King would indeed invite men and women to come unto the marriage and to come unto His Son, however, they would choose not to respond to this invitation and would instead go about their own business and agenda. What we find in this second parable spoken by Jesus is how there would come a second reckoning as the living God would send forth His armies—this time in the form of the Roman army—to utterly destroy the city of Jerusalem, the Temple which stood in the midst of the city as well as countless men and women who abode still within the city. The parables which Jesus taught spoke of armies coming unto the vineyard and not only putting to death those murderers but also destroying the city with fire—a reality which we must needs recognize and understand speaks both to the time the Chaldeans invaded Judah and utterly destroyed Jerusalem together with the Temple as well as the time of the Romans who would do the very same thing.

 

            In bringing this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture. That which we find in this passage of Scripture is a clear and present distinction and difference between those who were called and those who were chosen. The parable would begin and open with those who were called by the king to come unto the wedding and unto the marriage. Those who were called, however, would make light of the invitation and would choose to go about their own business—some to their farms and others to their merchandise. With this being said we find the remnant of those who remained seizing upon the servants which the king sent and putting them to death. We must needs recognize and understand this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the difference between those who are called and those who were chosen. The parable would initially and originally begin with those who were called and yet deliberately and intentionally chose to reject and despise the invitation. After the king sent forth his armies and slaughtered those murderers and burned their city he would declare unto his servants how the wedding was ready but those which were bidden were not worthy. As a direct result of this the king would instruct them to go into the highways and as many as they would find they were to bid to the marriage. These servants would obey the word and command of the king and went out into the highways and gathered all as many as they found—both bad and good—and the wedding was furnished with guests.

 

Perhaps the single greatest truth we must needs recognize when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture is the fundamental difference between those who were called and those who were chosen. Those who were chosen weren’t those who were called yet they responded when the servants came unto them inviting them unto the wedding. Pause for a moment and consider how absolutely incredible this truly is for it calls and draws our attention to the wonderful difference between those who were called and those who were chosen—and not only the difference between the two but how those who were the called weren’t those who were chosen and how those who were the chosen weren’t the original ones who were called. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for we as the saints of the living God and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ have indeed been called and invited unto the marriage—a marriage that would take place in the halls of heaven as the bridegroom would be united and joined together with His bride. We must needs recognize and understand for with the calling and the choosing there is the tremendous need to accept the invitation—and not only accept the invitation but also respond to it. Those who were the called rejected and did not heed the invitation while those who were chosen responded to the invitation and came to the wedding. Oh that we would recognize and understand this and ask ourselves whether or not we are those who are the called or whether we are those who are the chosen. Are we those who would reject the invitation of the King or are we those who would respond to the invitation of the King to come unto the wedding and marriage which He prepared for His Son?

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