In the last blog, we had a good laugh at a most bizarre scene where Jesus curses a fig tree. We wondered if Mark was trying to set up a message, and if so, this next story would be what it’s aimed at. So let’s look at Mark 11:15-19 and see how it might connect with the cursing of a fig tree.
So, Jesus goes to the temple. The pretty standard behavior for a Jewish visitor to Jerusalem. However, Jesus began to, “drive out” people who were buying and selling in the temple courts. He flipped over tables and chairs of the stalls, and wouldn’t let anyone take their purchased goods through the temple. I would like to point out that in this early version, there is no whip, no mention of anger, and Jesus has time to gather and teach people, which doesn’t suggest rage or other out of control emotions.
From the sounds of it, the temple had basically become a marketplace. Jesus’ problem with this is his understanding of scripture. Jesus quotes Isaiah 56:7, “I will make them happy in the temple where people pray to me… My temple will be known as a temple where all nations may pray.”
Thus, Jesus, approaching the temple, anticipated a place of prayer and Godly devotion, but instead found a marketplace. Not only that, but the passage specifically mentions selling doves. Doves were the lowest possible offering and would have been primarily used by those people who couldn’t use anything else, as established in Torah. In this way, the temple was forcing people to pay for that which was meant for people who did not have anything else. It’s demanding something precisely where Scripture had intended for something to be free. It’s injustice.
This injustice is further supported by Jesus’ second OT reference, Jeremiah 7. “Do you think this temple I have claimed as my own is to be a hideout for robbers? You had better take note! I have seen for myself what you have done! says the Lord. So, go to the place in Shiloh where I allowed myself to be worshiped in the early days. See what I did to it because of the wicked things my people Israel did.”
It’s a threat, that God knows the wrongs being committed in His temple, and if they do not repent, they will be destroyed.
Shock of all shocks, those individuals who were profiting from the marketplace at the temple, the priests, and scribes, decided that Jesus should die because he was messing up their sweet operation. This was Jesus’ plan all along. He knew it was going to upset those in power, and what the result would be. He warned us many times.
As for the relation to the fig tree, I see the title of the next section also involves it so I will wait until next time to discuss it.
Grace and Peace to you all.