Today is Saturday in the fourth week of Lent, and we are continuing in Mark chapter 11. Jesus has entered Jerusalem, and now he is going to go up to the Temple. I wonder if everyone is watching him closely to see what he will do next?
Yesterday, Jesus came into Jerusalem for the first time. People welcomed him like Israel's king. They sang, "Hosanna: come save us!" and "we welcome God's kingdom"! Now he is coming back into the city, and walking straight up to the Temple. I wonder what people were hoping he would say and do there?
Can I put myself in the crowds that might have followed him in to the Temple courtyard? Maybe I am hoping he will teach us, or announce that God's kingdom is here and together we will take our city back from the Romans. But suddenly he begins knocking over tables, and chasing people away. Coins are scattering across the ground; birds are flapping everywhere; there is shouting and animal noises and confusion. How would it feel to see Jesus coming into this holy place and begin to turn everything upside down?
Jesus says that the Temple was first built to be a place where people from all nations could come to learn to worship God, but now it is more like a den for bandits. I wonder how the Temple and the practices that were happening there kept people out, instead of letting them in to come close to God?
In Jesus's time, "robber's dens" were places where people would gather and plot about how they would rob and fight back against the Roman soldiers in their country. They planned how they would kill the strong outsiders who had taken over their land. These robbers, or bandits, wanted the Temple — and all of Jerusalem — to belong to Israel and Israel alone. Then it would truly be God's kingdom. I wonder why Jesus is so angry about this picture of the kingdom of God?
I wonder why Mark tells us the story of the fig tree alongside the story of the Temple? I wonder how the dried up fig tree, that will not provide healthy fruit to people ever again, is like the Temple?
Jesus also teaches his disciples to be bold and confident when they pray for God's good kingdom to come. I wonder, when Jesus points to a mountain and says they can pray for it to be thrown into the sea, if he is pointing to the Temple mount? I wonder if his disciples believed then that God really would make a new way for them to come close?
I wonder if we can be bold and confident when we pray because Jesus has already accomplished everything we need to come close to God?
It can be hard to pray with that kind of confidence. I don't always believe that what I need from God has already been done for me, or that I have already received it. Can I talk with God about that right now?
Are there any words, or pictures, or moments in this story I want to talk with God about right now?
Are there any words, or pictures, or moments in this story I want to carry with me into the rest of my day?
Jesus of Nazareth, son of God: thank you that we have a book filled with your words and deeds. Give us the wisdom and understanding that comes from your Holy Spirit, so that we can know you better and follow you all the days of our lives. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
💌 Keep in touch!
You can follow us on Instagram and Twitter @wewonderpod for updates throughout the season, or you can shoot me an email at email@example.com Thanks so much for listening, and I'll see you tomorrow!