The cursing of the Fig Tree and exposing corruption in the Temple.
Though the gospel accounts vary on the timeline of Holy Week events, Monday possibly included Jesus cursing the fig tree and exposing the temple system’s corruption (see Matt. 21:17 – 22; Mark 11:15 – 26; Luke 19:45 – 48). Both moments are symbolic sign-acts that declare God’s dissatisfaction with Israel’s most respected leaders. And the people were shocked by Jesus’ acts!
Imagine Jesus in the middle of a bustling market filled with the smell of livestock and smoke from the temple’s altar. He’s in the temple’s Court of the Gentiles, which is not supposed to be a marketplace. It’s the largest space on the temple mount, dedicated for non-Israelites to pray and worship. The temple leaders who disliked non-Israelites were happy to turn their prayer space into a busy market, so Jesus staged a prophetic protest.
Standing in the center of the courtyard, Jesus shouts words from Isaiah and Jeremiah, “My house will be called a house of prayer,” but you are making it into a “den of robbers” (cf. Isa. 56:7; Matt. 21:13, Jer. 7:11). Jesus is saying that the leaders are valuing themselves and their profits over their non-Israelite neighbors. Israel has been called to bless their neighbors (Gen. 12:1 – 3), and in the courtyard, Jesus observes just the opposite.
In today’s video, dive deeper into the importance of the temple throughout Scripture to shed new light on the story of Jesus.
Prayer for Holy Monday
Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
— Book of Common Prayer