In the first part of Mark 11 we saw Jesus arrive at Bethany on the Saturday evening, and then ride into Jerusalem on ‘Palm Sunday’, fulfilling the prophecy given by Gabriel, recorded in Daniel chapter 9 to the very day!
Now Mark records that when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem he went to the Temple looked around and then went back out to Bethany for the evening. He makes no mention (as do Matthew and Luke) of the tables in the Temple being turned over that day. However the next day (Monday) as Jesus comes back into Jerusalem (passing and cursing the fig tree) Mark records that Jesus “began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves”. (Mark 11:15-17). It’s hard to imagine the commotion as Jesus sent table and coins flying, doves escaping and the crowd looking on in wonder!
Mark’s reveals that this was the second time in two days that Jesus turned over the tables in the Temple. Matthew and Luke both record that the same thing had happened the day before (on Palm Sunday) when Jesus had first arrived at Jerusalem. On that occasion Jesus cast out ‘them that sold & bought in the temple, overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves’ quoting from Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11. He also healed the blind and lame and answered the chief priests and scribes who saw what was happening and were incensed that the crowd were hailing Him the Messiah.
In contrast, Mark records that the next day the money changers etc. were back again, so Jesus again drives them out, quoting again from Isaiah and Jeremiah, but this time adding Isaiah’s words that the Temple would be called of all nations the house of prayer – a shocking thought for the Jews, that Gentiles would have a claim on their beloved Temple. In addition Mark also records that on this occasion Jesus taught the people – who were ‘astonished at His doctrine’; but this time the scribes and chief priests were not present but heard about these things. This was getting too much for them who, Mark tells us, now started to plot how they might destroy Him. Compare Matthew 21:12-17 (on the Sunday) with Mark 11:15-19 (on the Monday)
We so often have the Sunday School impression of Jesus ‘Gentle Jesus meek & mild…”, – and He is gentle: “a bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench” Matt 12:20. But He is also stern and will not hesitate to turn over the tables in our lives is we forget the significance of the ‘Temple’ (our lives are to be a Temple – set apart and holy). If we let tradition and religion crowd out the relationship that God so desires expect things to go flying! If and when He does, remember that He will always following it by teaching us some valuable lesson.
The next day Peter notices the fig tree all withered up. “There were many trees with only leaves, and these were not cursed. There were many trees with neither leaves nor fruit, and these were not cursed. This tree was cursed because it professed to have fruit, but did not”. (David Guzik). As we commented:
- Israel is likened to a fig tree in Scripture (Joel 1:7)
- The first time we see Figs they are associated with protection (Gen 3:7 / 1 Kings 4:25 / Micah 4:4)
- Israel’s primary calling was to be protection (a covering) for the lineage of the Seed of the Woman
- Ref Revelation 12
- But Israel (like a Fig) were also to provide sweetness to the world (Judges 9:11 / Hosea 9:10)
- Instead, Israel failed to produce the fruit that it should have done (Joel 1:12)
Let us learn and ensure that our lives are producing the fruit they should! – one such fruit is Faith (Gal 5:22). Using the example of the cursed Fig tree Jesus then challenged the disciples as to their faith, but that faith must be in God!
God delights in answering us, but there are some things that can hinder our prayers! (See Psalm 66:18 / 1 Peter 3:7). Refusing to forgive others will prevent God’s blessing in our lives. We either chose to live under Grace (and show grace to others), or demand our rights under the law (and then find that we would be judged under the Law – which none of us could survive!).
May you be blessed and encouraged as you continue to study His word!
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