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sf233 - The Curse Of Fruitless Faith (Matthew 21 18-22)

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Matthew 21:18-22

Introduction

On Sunday morning of Passover week Jesus rode into the city on a donkey colt to a Messiah’s welcome and was acclaimed the Son of David, as the people shouted hosannas and placed clothes and palm branches on the road before Him (Matt. 21:1-11).  On Monday He came into the city again and cleansed the Temple of the sacrifice merchants and moneychangers (vv. 12-17).  Now on Tuesday, He entered Jerusalem for the third time since coming up from Jericho.

From Mark we learn that the encounter with the fig tree involved two successive days.  Jesus cursed the fig tree on the morning He entered Jerusalem to cleanse the Temple, and it was on the following day, Tuesday, that the disciples noticed that the tree was “withered from the roots up” (Mark 11:14, 20).  Matthew condenses the two events into one account, which He mentions only in regard to Tuesday.

His cleansing the Temple and cursing the fig tree were of special and monumental significance.  The cleansing of the Temple was a denunciation of Israel’s worship, and the cursing of the fig tree was a denunciation of Israel as a nation.  Instead of overthrowing His nation’s enemies as the people anticipated He might, the newly-acclaimed King denounced His own people.

It was inconceivable to Jews that their Messiah would condemn them instead of deliver them, that He would attack Israel instead of Rome.  That is why the accolades of the triumphal entry were so short-lived, turning in a few days to cries for Jesus’ death.

Our Lord teaches us two important lessons here: He warns us of the danger of having a profession without practice and He sets before us the challenging of praying with faith.


1A.      Profession without Practice (21:18-19)

1B.      A fruitless tree

The relative worth of a fig tree

Ø      Fig trees were prized possessions

Ø      Fig trees were an indication of God’s blessing

Ø      Fig trees were a source of fruit and shade

The real worthlessness of this fig tree

Ø      Normally fig trees produce fruit before sprouting leaves

Ø      The problem here is that the tree professed to have something it did not have, fruit.

2B.      A faithless people

The fig tree represents the nation of Israel (see Luke 13:6-9)

Ø      Leaves represent Israel’s outward religiousness

Ø      The lack of fruit represents Israel’s spiritual bareness and hypocrisy.  (Matthew 15:7-8)

The proof of regeneration is our fruit

Matthew 12:33 " Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.

The fruit of regeneration is spiritual in nature

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.

The evidence of real spiritual fruit is obedience

Luke 6:46 " But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say?

James 1:22-25

“If we belong to Jesus, we will produce spiritual fruit, and if we do not, we do not belong to Him.”  (Boice)

2A.      Praying with Faith (21:20-22)

1B.      Jesus is speaking figuratively

He never used His own miraculous powers to perform spectacular but useless supernatural feats.  (see Matthew 12:38-ff)

2B.      The nature of mountain moving faith

John 14:13-14 "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 "If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

It is faith in God alone

Ø      Not faith in faith

Ø      Not faith in self

Ø      Not faith in our dreams or desires

James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

It is unselfish, undoubting, and unqualified confidence in God.

1 John 5:14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

“The measure of such faith is the sincere and single desire that, as Jesus said, “the Father may be glorified in the Son.”  (MacArthur)

It is trusting in the revelation of God

John 15:7 "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

“To do what God says is to do what God wants and to receive what God promises.”  (MacArthur)


3B.      The nature of mountain moving prayer

It is sincere prayer that believes God (21:22)

James 5:16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

It is persistent prayer that submits to God

“Persistent prayer that is believing God’s Word cannot be inconsistent with the operation of God’s own sovereign will, because in His sovereign wisdom and grace He commands such prayer and obligates Himself to honor it.”  (MacArthur)

Ø      God’s will is that we submit to Him even to the point of death.

Romans 14:8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord.  Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.

Ø      God’s will is for us to be persistent in our praying.

Matthew 7:7 " Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Application

Is your faith genuine or are you just religious?

Luke 6:46 " But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say?

Do you pray with faith?

James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

Matthew 21:22 "And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive."


Matthew 21:18-22

1A.      Profession without _________________ (21:18-19)

1B.      A fruitless tree

The relative ______________________ of a fig tree

The real _________________________ of this fig tree

2B.      A _________________________ people

The fig tree represents the nation of ______________ (see Luke 13:6-9)

Ø      Leaves represent Israel’s outward religiousness

Ø      The lack of fruit represents Israel’s spiritual bareness and hypocrisy.  (Matthew 15:7-8)

The proof of regeneration is our _________________

Matthew 12:33 " Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.

The __________ of regeneration is spiritual in nature

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

The evidence of real spiritual _________ is obedience

Luke 6:46 " But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say?

James 1:22-25

2A.      Praying with ______________________ (21:20-22)

1B.      Jesus is speaking figuratively


2B.      The nature of mountain moving ______________

John 14:13-14 "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 "If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

It is faith in God ___________________________

Ø      Not faith in faith

Ø      Not faith in self

Ø      Not faith in our dreams or desires

James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

It is unselfish, undoubting, and unqualified confidence in ___________________________.

1 John 5:14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

It is trusting in the _______________________ of God

John 15:7 "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

3B.      The nature of mountain moving ______________

It is sincere prayer that ______________ God (21:22)

James 5:16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

It is persistent prayer that ________________ to God

Ø      God’s will is that we submit to Him even to the point of death.  (Romans 14:8)

Ø      God’s will is for us to be persistent in our praying.  (Matthew 7:7)

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