Great God of glory, thank you for your presence, which has attended me today, and for the rest you now give. Shelter me safely in your care, covering me with your loving hand. May I know the afterglow of your presence. As I yield my mind and body to your care in the night, thank you for your steadfast loving-kindness, your mercy and compassion, O God of glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Daily Archives: April 29, 2021
Psalm 89:14-19 (ESV)
14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.
15 Blessed are the people who know the festal shout,
who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face,
16 who exult in your name all the day
and in your righteousness are exalted.
17 For you are the glory of their strength;
by your favor our horn is exalted.
18 For our shield belongs to the Lord,
our king to the Holy One of Israel.
19 Of old you spoke in a vision to your godly one, and said:
“I have granted help to one who is mighty;
I have exalted one chosen from the people.
Mark 11:11-25 (ESV)
11 And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.
Jesus Curses the Fig Tree
12 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. 13 And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.
Jesus Cleanses the Temple
15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 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.” 18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. 19 And when evening came they went out of the city.
The Lesson from the Withered Fig Tree
20 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21 And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” 22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
“May no one ever eat of your fruit again!” (Mark 11:14).
What a dramatic display Jesus made! First, he curses a fig tree, and it withers. Then he interrupts the ordinary business of the Temple, overthrowing tables and releasing doves back into the wild. Something new, something decisive was coming, and Jesus was here to usher it in.
Jesus’ words to the fig tree may seem strange at first, especially since Mark tells us “it was not the time for figs” (Mark 11:13). But it’s helpful to know that in Jesus’ day, the fig tree was a well-established metaphor for God’s people – a people who had been commanded to produce the fruit of their covenant with God. We can think, too, of the parable in Luke 13:6-9, where a landowner is frustrated at his unproductive fig tree, but the gardener persuades him to give it a bit more time. Will this tree ever bear fruit?
Well, the time had come for Israel to be judged for its failure to practice justice, to share salvation with the world, and to listen to God’s final Messenger, his only Son.
By clearing out the Temple as he did, Jesus showed that this central symbol of the Jewish nation was about to be overthrown. The “thieves” or revolutionaries who thought violence could drive out their enemies were to become victims of violence themselves. Jesus, meanwhile, would decisively defeat the true enemies of Israel and of humankind: sin and death.
The time has come for us as well. No more hedging bets. No more sitting on the fence. Are we for Jesus or against him? If there are ungodly habits or attachments in our lives, they need to wither away. Now.
“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Remember that whenever God calls you, he also strengthens you. Jesus’ journey to Calvary may have been a lonely one, but our journey is not. Christ is with us every step of the way.
Jesus, thank you for overthrowing my enemies. Open my eyes to the ways in which you want to purify me. Help me to take hold of your love so it can transform me. Amen.