The Cursing and Clearing of Jesus





Passion -2


TITLE: The Cursing and Clearing of Jesus

TEXT: Mark 11:12-26

TONE: Warning

TARGET: Unbelievers

TASK: To warn my listeners of terrible consequences of failing to bear fruit in true worship to God. 


TEACH: When I worked offshore one time, I was told I had to clean what was known as the “red fox room.” The name is quite deceptive, because the RFR was nothing more than a huge septic tank. After the tank was pumped out and then drained, I had chip away at the remaining refuse. I used a tool known as a bumble bee, which is designed to strip away corrosion. I was covered head to toe in waist. As I cleaned the inside of the RFR I cursed it the whole time. Tonight, we are going to look at a time when Jesus cleansed and cursed. Yet, His was perfectly holy. 


TRUTH: At Jesus’s triumphal entry, he declared openly his messianic identity. Two major events on Monday -the cursing of the fig tree and the clearing of the temple- are prophetic acts that dramatically announced the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.


The cursing of the fig tree is found in the Mark 11. In this story, Jesus traveling with his disciples and approaches a fig tree looking for fruit. However, the tree is barren, at it’s not the seasons for figs. Jesus then curses the fig tree, causing it to wither and die. This action is often viewed as a symbolic demonstration of Jesus’ power and authority, as well as a lesson about the importance of bearing spiritual fruit and not just having an outward appearance of righteousness.


The clearing of the temple is described in all for Gospels. In this account, Jesus enters the temple in Jerusalem and finds merchants and moneychangers conducting business within it walls. Angered by this misuse of a sacred space, Jesus overturns tables, drives out the merchants and quotes the OT scripture (Mark 11:17). This action is seen as a rebuke against the commercialization and corruption that had infiltrated the temple and a call for spiritual renewal and worship in its place.


We will now look at both in greater detail.


I.                             The Cursing

a.        Both events took place on Monday, while the discovery of the withered fig tree took place on Tuesday morning.


b.        When both events are considered together, as in Mark, we begin to understand that the cursing of the fig tree interprets the temple clearing. Thus, foreshadowing the future destruction of the temple.


c.        Mark intertwines the two events, revealing their connectedness. His A/B/A pattern is commonly known as a “Markan sandwhich”: (A) the cursing of the fig tree (11:14); (B) the clearing of the temple (11:15-17); and (A) the discovery of the withered fig tress (v.21).[1]


d.        Therefore, the cursing of the fig tree points to the temple’s destruction, for its failure to bear spiritual fruit to God’s glory. This is something God expects from every one of us, to bear fruit for His glory.


Illustration: At this time of the year in Oklahoma you can tell quickly which trees did not make it through the winter. For example, imagine a fruit tree in a beautiful garden, standing tall and full of vibrant, luscious fruits. Each branch is heavy with fruits of different colors and flavors, a testament to its health and vitality. Visitors to the garden are drawn to the three, marveling at its beauty and abundance.


Now, contrast this with another tree nearby that is barren and devoid of any fruit. Its branches are dry and lifeless, unable to sustain any growth or sustenance. The tree stands alone and neglected, a stark reminder of its unproductive state. The visual representation shows the importance of bearing fruit in our own lives.


Application: Examine your life are you exhibiting qualities such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.


II.                         The Clearing

a.        The temple of Jerusalem in Jesus’s dat was one of the largest and most magnificent temples in the ancient world. It occupied an area of more than 170,000 square yards.


b.        This is considered Israel’s third temple. The first was built by Solomon and destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 BC. The second temple was buit by Zerubbabel and the returning exiles in 538 BC. The work begun by Herod the Great continued after his death and was not completed until shortly before its destruction in AD 70. The buildings were constructed from white limestone and glistened in the sunlight.[2]


c.        In this powerful incident, Jesus entered the temple courts and witnessed the misuse and desecration of the sacred space, “he knew exactly what He intended to do. The previous day He looked around the temple precinct and saw the commercialization taking place there. This caused the temple authorities to seek His destruction.


d.        Instead of being a place of reverence, prayer, and worship, the temple had been corrupted into a market place where merchants were selling animals for sacrifices and exchanging money for profit. But the real issue was the proper worship of God.


e.        By cleansing the temple, Jesus was emphasizing the importance of true worship and the sanctity of God’s house. He condemned the commercialization and exploitation that had infiltrated the temple, disrupting the sacred purpose for which it was intended.


f.           Through this bold action, Jesus also symbolically demonstrated the need for spiritual renewal and a cleansing of hearts. The temple cleansing serves as a reminder that God desires sincerity, faithfulness, and purity in our worship and devotion to Him.


Illustration: There is another thing you notice this time of year in Oklahoma and that is people cleaning out their storm cellar.


Application: We too are the temple of God. How can we cleanse our temples and keep our worship pure before God? There is a great need among God saints for spiritual renewal.


III.                      The Conclusion

a.        Jesus cursed the fig tree and cleared the temple to demonstrate that Jerusalem would be judged for its fruitlessness. When Jesus examined the temple, which stood at the very heart of Judaism, He found it wanting. It had all the beauty of a place set aside for God’s glory, but under this beautiful façade lived a den of robbers.[3]


b.        We must be careful not to rob God. We can rob God of…..


                                                                                        i.         Money

                                                                                       ii.         Time

                                                                                      iii.         Talents

                                                                                      iv.         Love and Respect



Hymn of Response


One awful word which Jesus spoke,

Against the tree which bore no fruit;

More piercing than the lightening’s strike,

Blasted and dried it to the root.


But could a tree the Lord offend,

To make Him show His anger thus?

He surely had a farther end,

To be a warning to us.

The fig tree by its leaves was known,

But having not a fig to show;

It brought a heavy sentence down,

Let none hereafter on thee grow.


Too many, who the Gospel hear,

Whom Satan blinds and sin deceives;

We to this fig tree may compare,

They yield no fruit, but only leaves.


Knowledge and zeal and gifts and talk,

Unless combined with faith and love,

And witnessed by a Gospel walk,

Will not a true profession prove.


Without the fruit the Lord expects

Knowledge will make our state the worse;

The barren tree He still rejects,

And soon will blast them with His curse.


O Lord, unite our hearts in prayer!

On each of us Thy Spirit send;

That we the fruits of grace may bear,

And find acceptance in the end.[4]






[1] William F. Cook III, From Triumphal Entry to Empty Tomb (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2022), 16.

[2] Ibid., 18.

[3] Ibid., 24.

[4] John Newton, “One Awful Word Which Jesus Spoke,” 1779, The Cyber Hymnal, #8750,


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