Matthew 21:12-22

Talks for Growing Christians

The Cleansing of the Temple and the Cursing of the Fig Tree

Matthew 21:12-22

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Lesson Number 56

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. The cleansing of the temple prefigures the Lord’s return in glory.
  2. The cursing of the fig tree pictures the Lord’s removal of Israel.

Practical Application

  1. Let your mountains be turned into molehills.


  1. When did the events in this passage take place?
  2. Is this passage a contradiction to the account of the cleansing of the temple in John 2?
  3. Fill in the Blanks: The Lord will return with _________ and ________.
  4. Did the money changers deserve to be thrown out of the temple?
  5. How are fig trees and mountains related in this passage?


  1. The cleansing of the temple and the cursing of the fig tree took place on the Monday following Palm Sunday. This was the last week of our Lord’s ministry.
  2. No, Jesus cleansed the temple once at the beginning of His ministry (John 2) and here at the end. There are differences between these two accounts.
  3. judgment; blessing
  4. Yes, they had turned the Lord’s house into a “den of thieves” by charging the Jewish worshipper exorbitant prices for their animal sacrifices and money exchange.
  5. Israel (the fig tree) was a mountain barrier to the Lord’s ministry. But by faith this barrier was removed so the Lord’s ministry could continue.


  1. Read the prophecy in Malachi 3. This prophecy was partially fulfilled at our Lord’s first coming when John the Baptist came preparing the way of the Lord and when the Lord cleansed the temple. The remainder of the prophecy regarding the Lord’s judgment has not yet taken place. These judgments will take place when the Lord returns at His second coming. Discuss why it is important to distinguish between the Lord’s first and second coming when interpreting Old Testament prophecy.
  2. Throughout the Bible the fig tree is symbolic of the nation of Israel. Israel did not receive her Messiah and bear spiritual fruit. Therefore Israel was removed from its place of privilege. Many Christians believe this was the end of God’s plan for the nation of Israel. Discuss and cite passages for why we know God does have a future plan for His chosen people, Israel.


  1. If you are facing a mountain-like barrier in your work for the Lord you can pray in faith for Him to remove it. In time you will see that this mountain of a problem is actually a more manageable molehill.

Key Verses

  • “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’” Matthew 21:13
  • “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” Matthew 21:22

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