From Heaven With Love


Chapter 64—A Doomed People

This chapter is based on Matthew 21:17-19; Mark 11:11-14, 20, 21.

The last appeal to Jerusalem had been in vain. The priests and rulers had heard the prophetic voice echoed by the multitude in answer to the question, “Who is this?” but they did not accept it as the voice of Inspiration. In anger they tried to silence the people. To Roman officers in the throng, His enemies denounced Jesus as the leader of a rebellion. They represented that He was about to take possession of the temple, and reign as king in Jerusalem. HLv 387.1

But in a calm voice Jesus again declared that He had not come to establish a temporal rule; He would soon ascend to His Father, and His accusers would see Him no more until He should come again in glory. Then, too late, they would acknowledge Him. HLv 387.2

These words Jesus spoke with sadness and with singular power. The Roman officers were silenced and subdued. Their hearts were moved as they had never been moved before. In the solemn face of Jesus they read love and quiet dignity. Stirred by a sympathy they could not understand, they were inclined to pay Him homage. Turning on the priests and rulers, they charged them with creating the disturbance. HLv 387.3

Meanwhile Jesus passed unnoticed to the temple. All was quiet there, for the scene on Olivet had called away the people. For a short time Jesus remained, looking on the temple with sorrow. Then He returned to Bethany. When the people sought Him to place Him on the throne, He was not to be found. HLv 387.4

The entire night Jesus spent in prayer, and in the morning came again to the temple. On the way He was hungry, “and seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, He came, if haply He might find anything thereon; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.” HLv 387.5

On the highlands about Jerusalem it might truly be said, “The time of figs was not yet.” But in the orchard to which Jesus came, one tree appeared to be in advance of all the others. It was already covered with leaves, giving promise of well-developed fruit. But its appearance was deceptive. Jesus found “nothing but leaves.” It was a mass of pretentious foliage, nothing more. HLv 388.1

Christ uttered against it a withering curse. “‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again,’” He said. RSV. Next morning, as the Saviour and His disciples were again on their way to the city, the blasted branches and drooping leaves attracted their attention. “Master,” said Peter, “behold, the fig tree which Thou cursedst is withered away.” HLv 388.2

Christ's act in cursing the fig tree seemed to the disciples unlike His ways. They remembered His words, “The Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.” Luke 9:56. His works had been done to restore, never to destroy. This act stood alone. What was its purpose? they questioned. HLv 388.3

“As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” Ezekiel 33:11. To Him the work of destruction and the denunciation of judgment is a “strange work.” Isaiah 28:21. But in mercy and love He lifts the veil from the future and reveals the results of a course of sin. HLv 388.4

The barren fig tree, flaunting its pretentious foliage in the face of Christ, was a symbol of the Jewish nation. The Saviour desired to make plain the cause and the certainty of Israel's doom. For this purpose He made the tree the expositor of divine truth. The Jews laid claim to righteousness above every other people. But they were corrupted by the love of the world and the greed of gain. They spread their pretentious branches aloft, luxuriant in appearance and beautiful to the eye, but they yielded “nothing but leaves.” The Jewish religion, with its magnificent temple and impressive ceremonies, was indeed fair in outward appearance, but humility, love, and benevolence were lacking. HLv 388.5