We continue with our series as we travel with Jesus during the last week before His death and resurrection.
He’s been busy. Teaching. Training. And getting ready for what He came for.
On Sunday, He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. People came out in droves to witness their King coming. Even if they had the wrong concept of what their King would look and act like, it was a phenomenal event. And churches have been celebrating Palm Sunday (the triumphal entry) for centuries.
Scripture tells us that on Sunday night, Jesus left Jerusalem and went back to Bethany with His disciples, where He spent the night (Mark 11:11).
On Monday morning, He returned to Jerusalem. There are two significant events recorded on this day – the cursing of the fig tree and the cleansing of the temple.
I want to remind you that everything Jesus did and said was for a purpose. Jesus was always teaching eternal truths.
Let’s look at both of these events. Picture yourself in the presence of Jesus as He teaches through word and action.
The cursing of the fig tree (Mark 11:12-14).
Jesus and the disciples had not yet arrived in Jerusalem when it tells us that Jesus became hungry. In the distance, He saw a fig tree. But when He walked over to it, He noticed that it had leaves, but no fruit.
The fig tree represented the nation of Israel. One underlying message in this scenario is that Jesus was referring to hypocrisy. Time and again, Jesus talked about the religious leaders’ hypocrisy. Listen to what He said… “They don’t practice what they teach” (Matthew 23:3). In fact, Jesus calls the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law “hypocrites” six times in Matthew 23.
The fig tree Jesus was referring to was a perfect example. From a distance, it looked good and fruitful. But it wasn’t until they got closer did they realize that it wasn’t bearing fruit.
This is certainly a warning for you and me. Jesus can’t stand hypocrites. We better be careful to live by what we teach. Or by what Jesus taught.
Years ago, I worked for a lady from my church. I was in Bible college and worked part-time for her accounting firm. On Sundays at church, she was the apotheosis of a faithful Christian. But during the week at the office, she was anything but. She cursed at customers, belittled her employees, and gossiped about people behind their backs. As a young impressionable believer, I was horrified. I came home crying many nights.
This is hypocrisy. And this is what Jesus condemns.
I’ve heard people say, “If that’s what a Christian is, then I want no part of it.” The way we conduct ourselves can either draw people to Christ, or send them in the opposite direction. Obviously, this was something Jesus was concerned about as He neared the end of His life. Perhaps He was showing us the condition of the heart of God’s people.
No doubt, Jesus is also giving a prophesy concerning the future of Israel. Israel would struggle to live the way God intended.
Let’s be careful to heed this warning and not be like the fig tree – the tree that had the appearance of fruit, but really didn’t. Let’s strive to bear as much fruit as possible by living wholly for Jesus and obeying His Word. Let’s shine a spotlight on Jesus.
The cleansing of the Temple (Mark 11:15-17).
After Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, He went into the Temple and was appalled at what He saw. A place that was to be a place of prayer – a holy place where people could seek God – became a market. During the busy Passover season, the Temple had been turned into a merchandise venue.
While this may have been practical for those traveling from long distances (and in town to celebrate this great feast), the Temple was not the place for it.
When Solomon built the first Temple, there was such a respect for God’s house, that not even the sound of a hammer could be heard during the construction. Materials were built and put together at another location and brought to the Temple to be assembled.
But over time, things changed. Slowly, the buying and selling moved into the Temple courts.
Remember that in those days – before the cross – the Temple was the place for worship. This is where they encountered God. This was the place that God dwelt.
Imagine being in church and trying to focus on the worship and the pastor with retail booths along the sides of the sanctuary. People getting up from their seats and roaming around. In the background, we can hear people talking and the sound of coins dropping. I’m guessing that we would NOT be able to concentrate. We would have a hard time focusing on God.
That was the same in the Temple courts. They had lost respect for God and His house.
We know that we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Our bodies is where God dwells. Therefore, it’s important that we keep it clean and pure. We should be focused on what we put into our minds, our hearts, our bodies. Sadly, we can be as guilty as those money changers. We are not responsible for others, but we are responsible for us. God has made us into human temples and it is our responsibility to respect that.
Let’s work on cleaning out what may have become cluttered with stuff – the stuff distracting us from worshiping and experiencing God.
As we move closer to Friday with Jesus, we will hear and see much more. Stay tuned in. It is sure to awaken our spirits.
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Have a blessed day…