(Study Outline sourced from “The System Bible Study” – “The Book of Life” [Zondervan])
5. The Lesson Of The Barren Fig Tree (Tuesday Morning)
From the previous account of the cursing of the fig tree, our Lord now teaches the disciples three important lessons. “In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots.” When Peter draws attention to this, Jesus responded “Have faith in God..”. Our Lord is now going to teach them how to deal with fruitlessness, mountainous obstacles in their lives, and forgiveness.
Whenever a believer “dries up spiritually” it is usually from the “roots”, and this is perceived in the “many leaves” that people admire but there is no fruit that can be enjoyed by God and other people . Our Lord Jesus is expecting to see fruit in the lives of His followers , and as His disciples we must be very careful to cultivate our spiritual roots so as to bear fruit.
The second lesson is one of real and constant faith in God when faced with the many “mountainous obstacles” that we encounter in our daily lives. Our Lord says that if anyone “does not doubt…but believes….it will be done”. We must live in an attitude of total dependence upon God so that when faced with overwhelming problems our faith can move mountains, being conscious of the fact that it is only by God’s Spirit that we overcome and that prayer is not an emergency measure that we turn to when we have a problem, prayer must be a part of our constant communion and worship of God. We should not interpret what our Lord teaches here by believing that God is obliged to answer our prayer no matter what we request of Him, our faith must be based upon His Word that reveals His will .Thus every act of faith must rest on the promise of God and we can be confident as we pray on any subject as long as it is according to God’s will as revealed by His Word or by the inner witness of His Holy Spirit.
Thirdly, one of the basic requirements for answered prayer is a forgiving spirit, “…if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” . If we expect God to hear and answer our prayer we must forgive if we are to be forgiven, since an unforgiving spirit in a believer breaks fellowship with our heavenly Father and hinders the flow of blessing. Our faith must be expressed in our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus .
6. Three Parables In Defence Of His Authority
Upon His arrival at the Temple, our Lord Jesus is challenged by a committee of chief priests, teachers of the law and elders – “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?” , He responded, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism– was it from heaven, or from men? Tell me!” . Finding themselves in a dilemma they responded, “We don’t know”, and our Lord refuses to answer their question but proceeds to tell three parables. The question of authority had been raised many times before as He taught the crowds of people that followed Him.
The Two Sons
When asked by Our Lord Jesus “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” they all responded that it was the first son. Jesus then declared that John had come to show the way of righteousness and they did not believe him, even though the tax collectors and prostitutes did and had repented. They were like the son who said, “I will, sir, but did not go” and were condemned by their own confession.
It was very obvious to the committee of the Sanhedrin that the owner of the vineyard would “…bring those wretches to a wretched end.…and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.” . Our Lord then quotes from the Psalms likening Himself to the Son that was sent by the owner; God had sent His only Son whom He loved, to Israel that had rejected all the prophets including John the Baptist, and they did to His Son what was done to the prophets, there was no respect shown to God’s Son. Our Lord Jesus, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone” and He is referred to as both the foundation stone and the cornerstone in the New Testament . To Israel our Lord Jesus is both a stumbling stone and a rock of offence , and will be, at the time of His second coming, a “stone that crushes” as He adds, “Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.” ; as our Lord Jesus will be the Judge of all mankind. The chief priests and Pharisees “…knew he was talking about them. They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.” .
The Wedding Banquet
The lesson of this parable is clear to the hearers. The first invitation of the king was to the invited guests (the nation of Israel) “…but they refused to come.” They had rejected all the prophets and Jesus Himself . Secondly, their rejection would result in severe action taken by the king. Thirdly, their rejection would result in the invitation being extended to anyone else who would come, “Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.”
Here we see the application is that the Scribes and Pharisees as representatives of Israel were invited and refused to come; the rejection and crucifixion of our Lord Jesus is implied; and the extension of the invitation to all mankind, Jew and gentile, would result. . “So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests” . The king then finds a guest “not wearing wedding clothes.” Since the host of such a banquet, as a custom, would provide the wedding clothes to the guests, this was an insult to the king who ordered that he be thrown out of the banqueting hall, “..into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”, depicting severe punishment. The wedding garment speaks to us of the righteousness that God freely gives to all who accept His invitation to salvation, such invitation is extended to undeserving people; and Our Lord then adds, “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” which simply states that although the invitation is to all, only a few will accept and receive the blessing.