Mark 11:12-19 with verses 20-26 from Holy Tuesday
“When Jesus and his disciples left Bethany the next morning, he was hungry.” This is the beginning of a two-part story which includes verses 12, 13, and 14 here on a Monday morning and then verses 20 through 26 which describes what happened the next morning. I am going to include it here because Tuesday has enough to discuss without it.
The fig tree is symbolic of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is fruit tree which does not bear fruit. The people of Jerusalem have not responded to their call as the Chosen People to be a light to the nations. They have taken the title of “Chosen” as an honor which bears privileges that will lift them up above all the other people of the world but does not require them to be a blessing or to act as a servant.
So Jesus condemns the fig tree and his disciples are surprised when they find it dried up the next morning. Jesus tells his disciples that the power to do such a thing is a matter of faith and forgiveness. Faith that God is willing and waiting to help you do whatever needs to be done and forgiveness that is alive in your heart for those who hurt you because you are willing to ask and receive God’s forgiveness of your sins.
“After Jesus and his disciples reached Jerusalem, he went into the temple and began chasing out everyone who was selling and buying. He turned over the tables of the moneychangers and the benches of those who were selling doves. Jesus would not let anyone carry things through the temple.”
This has been one of the most misused passages of Scriptures in the history of the New Testament. Many people have tried to use this passage to justify what they think of as “righteous anger.” They say, “Jesus got angry and chased people out of the temple.” All four of the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, include this story but not one of them say that Jesus got angry.
Our problem is that we cannot imagine doing such a thing without being angry. We use anger to help us control other people and we cultivate anger as way to make sure that we are “right” and everybody else is “wrong.” But Jesus is very clear about anger in The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:21-26): anger is not to be used or cultivated or it will take us down a very dark path.
It is not hard to imagine what was happening: Herod the Great had started an expansion of courtyards surrounding the temple precinct. Only Jews could enter the temple precinct and no buying or selling went on within the temple precinct. But the temple precinct was surrounded by large courtyards on the north and the south and by more slender courtyards on the east and west. Most of the buying and selling probably went on in the southern courtyard because the great majority of people entered the temple from the south and the southwest sides of the temple mount.
Verse 16 speaks of Jesus not allowing people to carry things through the temple. In the time of Jesus the temple mount occupied about ¼ of the whole city. There were 8 to 12 gates to the temple mount and some of these could be used as short-cuts across Jerusalem. But as Jesus said, “The Scriptures say, ‘My house should be called a place of worship for all nations.’”
“The chief priests and the teachers of the Law of Moses heard what Jesus said, and they started looking for a way to kill him.”
Caring for the needs of our church and community through prayer, deeds, inspiration and love in the Spirit of Christ.
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(Tuesday & Thursday; 8am to 2pm; Ages 1-3)
Rev Pat Bell, Pastor
First United Methodist Church Sealy
200 Atchison Street
Sealy, Texas 77474