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Showing posts from January, 2020

Truth or Victory

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Scripture:
Again they came to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?” Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me.” They argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘Of human origin’?”—they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.” (Mark 11:27–33 NRSV)
Observation:
Jesus’ teaching within the temple had been powerful. He was drawing crowds and this made the religious leaders angry and filled with jealousy. They were the religious authorities and h…

Asking in Prayer

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Scripture:
Mark 11:20   In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21 Then Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” 22 Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. 24 So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
 25 “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”
Observation:
A new day and Jesus is again heading into Jerusalem. He and his disciples pass by the fig tree again, and now it has changed entirely, withering all the way down to its roots. The tree will never again bear fruit for it is rotten to the core. This represents Jewish religious leade…

For All the Nations

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Scripture:
He was teaching and saying, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” (Mark 11:17 NRSV)
Observation:
This is Mark’s account of Jesus entering the temple and overturning the tables of the money changers. The story would not have been lost on the Gentile readers in Rome, for Jesus was making his way through the courtyard that was to have been the space for Gentiles to pray. This space had now become occupied with those who were changing money and selling sacrificial animals. That business actually needed to be done, but it was where they were doing the work that was a problem. By using the space for the Gentiles they had, in essence, said that the Gentiles would not be allowed to come and pray. God had always anticipated that the Jewish faith would be an evangelistic faith. The business of the temple had turned it into a den of robbers, a place where they were robbing the Gentiles from becoming a …

Looks can be Deceiving

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Scripture:
On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it. (Mark 11:12–14 NRSV)
Observation:
This story is placed here, not so much to speak about Jesus’ own hunger, but for the disciples to hear what he has to say. From far away Jesus could see leaves on the fig tree. This should have meant that the tree was already in the process of developing figs, even if they weren’t yet ripe. The problem was that while the tree looked good from a distance, on close inspection, it was not going to bear any fruit. This fig tree was symbolic of the religious leaders who looked good from a distance, but would not bear fruit. As he entered Jerusalem, Jesus was rejecting the Jewish leaders for they would soon lose …

Did You Notice Him?

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Scripture:
Mark 11:11   Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.
Observation:
Jesus had just made his entry into the city of Jerusalem. It all fit the scene of Zechariah 9:9 so beautifully, “Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (NIV) He had ridden the colt, people were singing songs of praise and branches had been laid at his feet — and yet, by the time he made it to the temple, things seemed to have quieted down. Who was it that had noticed him? Was it the group of pilgrims who had been traveling with him? The deeper he went into the city, the more the crowd probably trailed off. He wasn’t arriving as a mighty warrior on a handsome steed to overthrow the government. He was a pilgrim on a donkey.
Mark makes it seem as if the fanfar…