Monday, October 22, 2018

Devotional: Missing The Moment, Mark 11:13-26

Mark 11.12-26 outline

The next section (13-26) is an acted out judgment on the temple and nation of Israel. The two sections about the fig tree bracket Jesus’ disruption of the temple ministry. Like the fig tree, the temple and what it stood for was rejected for lack of “fruit.” Israel had been chosen to bless the nations by making God and his blessings accessible to them, but instead they proudly thought of themselves as better than the nations, selfishly used God’s blessing to enrich themselves and rejected God’s Messiah. So, Jesus symbolically condemns the sacrificial system, the corruption of its leadership, and the perversion of its purpose away from God's design for it. God had come through on his promise. Messiah, the glory of the incarnate Son of God,  had come to his temple (Haggai 2:7, Malachi 3:1) but his people were not ready.Their leaders rejected him because they were too busy taking care of their own business.

Jesus’ symbolic actions with the fig tree showed that the temple religious system had failed and was about to be replaced. The temple was supposed to be “a shining city on the hill” that would attract the nations to God and serve as a center of outreach to the poor and needy. But, as in the days of Jeremiah, it had become a den of thieves” (Jeremiah 7:4-12) that had allowed selfish, perverted people to think that they were insulated from God’s judgment. As in the days of Isaiah (56:7) the temple was not a “house of prayer for the nations,” but instead was a nationalistic shrine which separated and excluded foreigners and outcasts from salvation. With a few exceptions this had been the story of the history of Israel. Now, the Jerusalem mountain (11:23) was about to be removed. God was now doing something new in Jesus and that old system, like the fig tree, had been rejected from the roots up. The nation’s hope, like ours, was not to be in a building, a symbol, a program or a ritual but in “receiving” the LORD who had come to his temple and replaced it, and would now reside in his people.

The old way was done and the new way had begun, so Jesus closes this section by describing what his new way would require. Jesus’ kingdom would be all about “faith in God (22)” Prayer would be effective everywhere, not just Jerusalem, because the whole earth will be reclaimed by God. Prayer that trusts God and his promises for the impossible will accomplish its goal. Instead of excluding, the new way will be characterized by forgiveness which reconciles people to God and to one another. Jesus was there offering this new way of forgiveness, life and blessing. Sadly, the leaders missed their moment. Because of their fear (11:18) they tried to destroy him and, in doing that, destroyed themselves. Today, bearing fruit means a faithful witness to the nations in word and action, prayer that trusts God’s promises as the basis for life and a willingness to forgive as God has forgiven you.  This is the fruit Jesus is looking for today. May he find some on our trees.

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