Daily Update for Pastor David March 30, 2020
Monday, March 30
Update & Prayer Notes
Matthew 21:12-22; Mark 11:12-26
At the staff prayer day last week I played a song by Noel Stookey, and asked if any of them knew who he was. They all said they had no idea. I responded by saying they all knew who he was and his music. Back in 1961 a new group formed with Mary Travers, Peter Yarrow and Noel Stookey. Peter, Noel and Mary just didn’t have the right fit, so Noel went by his middle name, Paul. And the rest is American folklore history!
The gospels unveil who Jesus is. Some come to know him. But others never get it. Today and tomorrow our Lenten reflection looks at the four gospel record of the clearing of the temple and a cursed fig tree. These are not our favourite stories about Jesus. We want a loving, compassionate Jesus, yet he seems angry and disruptive in the temple and destructive and selfish in causing a tree to whither. Do we know a Jesus who looks like this?
The reality is people didn’t know Jesus. Even his own disciples had no idea that he was travelling to an encounter with death on a cross. Even in the stories of the sixth and fifth days prior to his crucifixion, they are looking for a Jesus entirely different from the one who presents himself.
They hoped Jesus was the Messiah, but they didn’t know he was God come to the temple.
The crowd lining the road into Jerusalem, throwing down palm branches and shouting “Hosanna” were looking for a Messiah all right. But one who would save them from Roman oppression, not oppression of their own sinfulness. When Jesus entered the temple, it was symbolic of God descending upon the Holy of Holies. The temple was where God dwelt, and in Jesus, God had come to the temple.
They hoped Jesus would deliver the nation, but they didn’t know he was condemning their sinfulness.
The stories of Jesus clearing the temple and cursing the fig tree are connected. They are not just placed side by side because it represents chronological order. They’re together because the one illustrates the other. Jesus entered the sacred place of the temple and found that commerce was of greater concern than worship. The unfruitful fig tree symbolizes the spiritually barren temple.
12The next day when they went out from Bethany, he was hungry. 13Seeing in the distance a fig tree with leaves, he went to find out if there was anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for it was not the season for figs. 14He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And his disciples heard it. —Mark 11:12-14
Mark makes a point of telling us that it’s not even the season for figs. So why would Jesus curse a tree when its fruit was out of season? Because the spiritual life and vitality of Israel should always “be in season” so if there’s no fruit, the tree is no longer of value.
They looked for a compassionate saviour and encountered and authoritative deity.
One of the interesting things to me about this story of the fig tree is that Jesus connect it to faith and prayer.
20When the disciples saw it, they were amazed and said, “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” 21Jesus answered them, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you tell this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done. 22And if you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” —Matthew 21:20-22
Prayer enables us to tap into the power and authority that resides in Christ. May our time in Lent, and may our time during COVID-19 solitude cause us to spend more time tapping into the power that is ours through prayer.
If you have time, you may want to check out this YouTube link. The coronavirus may have us spending more time apart, but we are not defeated!
- Pastor David Booker