Lenten Devotional // Day 35

Monday, April 11
CLEANSING THE TEMPLE by Beth McClure

Mark 11:12-19
The next day, after leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. From far away, he noticed a fig tree in leaf, so he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing except leaves, since it wasn’t the season for figs. So he said to it, “No one will ever again eat your fruit!” His disciples heard this.
They came into Jerusalem. After entering the temple, he threw out those who were selling and buying there. He pushed over the tables used for currency exchange and the chairs of those who sold doves. He didn’t allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He taught them, “Hasn’t it been written, My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you’ve turned it into a hideout for crooks.” The chief priests and legal experts heard this and tried to find a way to destroy him. They regarded him as dangerous because the whole crowd was enthralled at his teaching. When it was evening, Jesus and his disciples went outside the city.

Reflection
The story at the temple always blew my mind as a child, especially dramatic interpretations on film. Watching Jesus scream and turn over tables, destroying things. It was pretty intense and in stark contrast to the Jesus I learned about most of the time. As I have matured in both age and faith, I’ve come to appreciate the humanity Jesus modeled for us here. He was angry. He was scared. He knew this was the beginning of the events that would lead him to the cross.

The fig tree threw me for a loop, though. I could understand Jesus’s indignation with the merchants at the temple. They made the choice to turn a sacred place into “a hideout for crooks.” But the poor tree? It wasn’t even time to bear fruit yet, but Jesus condemned it to be barren forever because it couldn’t give him a snack?

I did a little research to help me understand. I learned the key phrase is “in leaf” - meaning that the tree was already displaying the fullness of leaves of a tree bearing fruit, even though it was early in the season. So, from afar Jesus thought he would find figs. Just as from afar, the activity in the temple may have seemed holy. It was bustling with people there to worship God. But, under the surface, those selling their wares and exchanging money were taking advantage of the worshippers. Even the worshippers were participating in what Jesus viewed as antiquated rituals and sacrifices, distracting themselves from what he knew to be the real path to salvation. The reason he would sacrifice himself for all of us in just a few days time.

Question for Contemplation
Where am I putting on a show with my faith? Am I all leaves, but no fruit? How can I fully, authentically, and passionately share and fight for God the way that Jesus did in the temple?

Prayer
Dear God, as I enter this Holy Week, help me to comprehend the amazing sacrifice that Jesus made for the world. Make me empathetic to his fear, his anger, and his immense love for us. Give me the confidence to boldly and proudly share my faith and the good news of Jesus’ resurrection in order to bring forth fruit for your kingdom.

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