Day 255 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue Mark.
Mark 11 – Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem fuels messianic expectations. Note the messianic but also divine overtones of Zechariah 9:9 (Yahweh as King): “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! . . . Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is He, humble and mounted on a donkey . . . .” Jesus visits Jerusalem in humility and zeal for true worship of God from people of all nations. Given the fact that Jesus already displayed His divine nature (esp. Mark 2:5–12; 9:2–7), the entry into Jerusalem and the cleansing of the temple must be seen as God visiting the center of Israel: the city and its temple.
The infinite God comes to be with His people, both where they live and where they worship. But in both He finds a rejection of His ways that He must cleanse and correct.
Jesus juxtaposes the fruitless temple, signified by cursing the fig tree and cleansing the temple, with sincere trust in God. Only through faith in God and His work do followers bear acceptable fruit of worship, prayer, and godliness.
Jesus is serious about true worship and prayer in—and among—His people (see Isaiah 61:11), since they are becoming the new and eternal temple of God (Mark 12:10–11; 14:58; 15:29, 38; 1 Corinthians 3:16–17; 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:21; 1 Peter 2:5). God’s chosen people of ethnic Israel had proven to be a fruitless fig tree, but God had already predestined to extend His kingdom to every corner of the globe, to any who will receive the Gospel in childlike trust in Jesus. Recall God’s promise to Abraham to be the father of many nations.
The untimely cursing of the fig tree, which cannot bear fruit out of season, makes sense only if it is seen as representing the fruitless temple, which should bear fruit at any time. What befalls the fig tree will befall the fruitless temple (in a.d. 70; see 13:2).
Jesus cleanses the temple because the temple is meant to display the fruit of true worship, not corrupt commerce and personal gain (1 Chronicles 29:10–19; 2 Chronicles 6:14–42). The temple is meant to draw people from all nations to the purity of God (2 Chronicles 7:1–3).
God gives His Believers the Spirit of fire (Luke 3:17). The mercy and grace of God has a purifying effect in their lives as living stones of His eternal temple (Ephesians 2:21; 1 Peter 2:4–5).
True worship of God is foundational to a healthy, God-designed life. Above all, it is the right response to the character and nature of God. Followers of Jesus can pray boldly and confidently (with faith) toward the end that God would remove all hindrances (the figurative meaning of “mountain”) to true worship of the triune God. However, this boldness can never be manipulative or coercive toward other human beings. We are to trust God. Jesus commands having “faith in God,” not in the plans and priorities of finite human wisdom. Jesus’ focus lies always on surrendered trust in God’s sovereign power, ability, and will. Surprisingly, lack of forgiveness is the first “mountain” to be removed in order for true worship to flourish.
How does the truth that you, as a Believer, are now the temple of Jesus’ Spirit empower you today?
Mark 12 – Opposition to Jesus grows despite the fact that He cannot be convicted of breaking the law of Moses. Contrary to breaking the law, Jesus exposes hard-heartedness with regard to the proper interpretation of the law, here regarding taxes and divorce. Jesus does not undercut the law of Moses; rather, His opponents reject or misinterpret it (“because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God”). When a scribe displays a proper view of the chief commandments, Jesus affirms him. Jesus thus arises as the Prophet-like-Moses, as the messianic interpreter of the law (Matthew 5:17–20).
A disciple realizes that without the purification of the heart, other matters of life, such as a proper understanding of the law of Moses, ethics, and social issues, etc., cannot be addressed in a sustainable way. The eternal Son of God must effect such purification for there to be hope of lasting personal and social change.
In sharp contrast to his proud and exploiting opponents, “who devour widows’ houses”, Jesus praises the sacrificial devotion of a poor widow. Her singular trust in God serves as a powerful example and as a penetrating window into God’s opinion of true greatness and significance. The widow’s devotion exposes the exploiting self-interest of those officials who handle temple taxes and tithes. Her devotion also indicates complete dependence on God. She gives all that she has, trusting Him to provide all that she needs. Her willingness to put God’s honor above all other priorities applies to us all, even as we carry out our biblical responsibilities to provide for the welfare of our families and communities.
Jesus does not separate belief from action. Authentic faith always bears the fruit of sincere and godly action. Vibrant faith cannot sit still; it must act in love (James 2:14–26).
How do you see your faith being out into action in your life?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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