Left Behind

Matthew 21:17 (ESV)
"And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there."

This is a great example of study bearing fruit. Such a simple passage that the meaning can often be overlooked as well as its significance. Consider what is going on right now: Jesus had just made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem and had turned over the tables of the moneychangers. The Pharisees and scribes were being indignant to our Savior for allowing the children to refer to Him as the Son of David, a Messianic term, in which He did not correct them.

In verse 17, the Greek verb kataleipo is used for leaving, and it means “to leave behind.” It is a stronger verb than leipo, and its use here implies a purposeful departure after the confrontation. The same verb kataleipo was used in Matthew 16:4 when Jesus left his challengers to cross the Sea of Galilee, and in Matthew 19:5 of a man leaving his parents. There was calculated determination in Jesus’ action and is significant in that by using this verb form, Matthew is showing that Jesus had now deliberately abandoned the chief priests, the scribes, the temple, Jerusalem, and everything else related to official Israel and its false religion. The remainder of Jesus’ preaching serves as an indictment to these hypocrites and uses a few parables to demonstrate their iniquity.

The cursing of the fig tree that follows in verses Matthew 21:18-19 provides a symbolic link to Matthew 21:12-13 where He pronounced judgment on the moneychangers and the misuse of the temple by quoting Isaiah 56:7. The cursing of the fig tree symbolizes Israel’s own fruitlessness and impending doom: The self-righteousness of the Pharisees and scribes were externally displaying a lie, just like the fig tree—it had leaves, but no fruit and thus had no purpose. Even more interesting is that in quoting Isaiah 56:7, Jesus allows us to look back at the full passage of that Scripture where it includes, “my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples”, observing that the temple is not just being used improperly by the Jews, but it is now to be a place of worship for the Gentiles as well. He has, for all intents and purposes, left them behind.

My prayer from this study is that in it, we all recognize how much there is to glean from God’s Word regardless of how many times we have read a particular verse. Do not just read the Bible without praying first and asking God to enlighten you; pray that He gives you the discernment to open up His Word like never before.

In this, your study will indeed bear much fruit.