God is sovereign over all things, including our spiritual awakening. Jesus performed many miracles so that people could see and believe in Him as the Messiah. However, many did not believe, thus fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy— “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them” (John 12:40, Isaiah 6:10).
Later, Paul will tell us the way to be healed – “Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:16-18).
So we see there is a tension in Scripture between the Lord awakening and our turning. However, it is clear that salvation is the work of the Lord through His Son Jesus. That is why Jesus cries out that anyone who believes in Him believes in His Father who sent Him into the world as the light. Jesus says He came to save the world, and He only speaks from the authority given to Him by God, His Father.
“Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, ‘Let no fruit grow on you ever again.’ Immediately the fig tree withered away.”
Jesus curses the fig tree as an illustration of Israel, who appears to have faith on the outside like the tree which appeared healthy on the outside with its leaves. However, once Jesus came close to the tree, He discovered there was no fruit, no figs. Therefore Jesus destroyed the tree as a warning of the judgment coming upon the ones who have the appearance of faith on the outside but lack a heart truly surrendered to the Lord. But to the ones who truly love Jesus, Jesus says, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
When Jesus and the disciples arrive in Jerusalem, Jesus drives the people out of the temple who were using it as a place of business instead of a house of prayer. Later, Jesus’ authority is questioned by the priests, scribes, and elders – “And they said to Him, ‘By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority to do these things?’” They are not only questioning by whose authority Jesus cleaned the temple but also under whose authority is He healing people and teaching in the temple since He isn’t a part of the official Jewish authority.
“But Jesus answered and said to them, ‘I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: The baptism of John—where was it from? From heaven or from men?’” This question exposes the Jewish leaders’ ignorance because if they say John was doing the work of the Lord then Jesus will ask why they didn’t believe him; but if they say man, then the people would revolt against them because many believed John the Baptist was a prophet of the Lord. So they just give the cowardly answer of “We do not know.” Therefore Jesus responds, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
Jesus always meets the needs of those who come to Him humbly. However, He resists the prideful and arrogant ones who question His authority with unbelief. Tomorrow Jesus will continue to call out the hypocrisy in the Jewish leadership. Keep reading. (John 12:37-50, Mark 11:12-14, Matthew 21:18-22, Mark 11:15-19, Matthew 21:12-17, Luke 19:45-48, Mark 11:20-33, Matthew 21:23-27, Luke 20:1-8)