*This series of posts walks through the Holy Week timeline, day by day, as told in the Gospel of Mark. You can view Sunday’s post here.
Snippet: And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations? But you have made it a den of robbers.” (Mark 11:17)
Jesus and his disciples are up early to head to the temple, and looking for breakfast, Jesus sees a fig tree full of leaves from a distance. He hurries towards it to grab some figs for breakfast, but as he approaches, he notices it’s all leaves, but no fruit. He curses it and moves on.
When they arrive at the temple, Jesus’ demeanor from the night prior couldn’t be any different. This time, he isn’t walking around silently and taking it all in, but he is flipping tables and chairs, chasing people out, not even allowing those walking with goods to make the short cut through the temple. This wasn’t contrived anger, but righteous anger towards real injustice taking place. People were being scammed, merchants were taking advantage of foreigners, and the temple had become a marketplace bustling with activity in the name of the Lord without any reverence for the Lord. God designed the purpose of the temple to be a witness to the world, but that design was being tarnished in the name of greed.
The cursing of the fig tree now makes sense. It was a metaphor to describe the spiritual state of the temple, because while the tree looked like it was fruitful from a distance, up close it was exposed to be fruitless, nothing but leaves.
Hate is a strong word, and we often use it in ways where we don’t really mean it. With that said, it is not an overstatement to say that Jesus hates false appearances. His anger is kindled strongest towards the religious elite in Jerusalem who appear one way from a distance, but as you get closer, prove to not be what appeared at first. All show, no substance.
Jesus exposes the false appearance of the temple, which was supposed to symbolize hope and salvation to those who see it, but in reality it had symbolized greed and hypocrisy.
At the end of the day, we all must take stock of our hearts and discern if we have faith in God more than we have faith in the appearance of being godly. As Jesus progresses through the week, he will powerfully expose all false appearances. The cross will expose sin and rebellion, and as the true and better temple, Jesus will now be the place where the world can find hope and salvation.
Questions to consider:
Real faith in Christ is better than the appearance of being a Christian. How can we know the difference? Here are some diagnostic questions to consider:
- Are you the sort of person that gets better as people get closer?
- Does your affection for Jesus become more evident as people get to know you more?
- Does your faith shine in difficult circumstances?
- Do you welcome people to see you around your family? Your workplace? Your profiles on social media?
- Are people more affirmed and encouraged by your faith in God the more they get to know you?
Father, we are grateful for the patience and longsuffering ministry of your Son. And yet, we are also comforted by your commitment to expose all injustice in the world. We confess our inability to be just and merciful without your Spirit within us, and for the times we would rather appear to be holy rather than pursue real holiness. Help us to keep our eyes fixed on you, and to be a true witness to the world that you are the great Hope for all people, regardless of their background or past. Let our life and our church be rooted in your work so that we produce real fruit that glorifies your name and is a blessing to those around us.