Sunday 29 December 2013

Mark 11:1-19 - Things come to a head

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Just a few days before the Passover festival, Jesus and his disciples approach the city and spend several days there, returning each evening to Bethany where Mary, Martha and Lazarus live. It's very likely that Jesus and the twelve stayed with them as they were particularly close friends.

In Mark 11:1-19 we have an account of the first two of these days. Before they reached Bethany and the nearby village of Bethphage, Jesus sent two disciples ahead to collect a young donkey, and he rode upon it as they entered the city of Jerusalem. The crowds cried out 'Hosanna' (save us) and used other words from Psalm 118:25-29.

Jesus spent some time looking around in the temple, but then he returned to Bethany as it was getting late.

In the morning, on the way back to the city, he spoke to the barren fig tree. It represents an equally fruitless Israel. Arriving in the temple courts again he throws out the traders he had seen the previous day. And the chief priests and law teachers were afraid of him and decided to kill him. In the evening they returned to Bethany.

Do you see the deep significance of all this?

Jesus arrives to a modest welcome when the entire nation should have been there rejoicing at the coming of the Anointed One [Tweet it!]. He comes to his own and the great majority of them don't recognise him or welcome him. He enters the temple, raised to glorify the Father, and he sees that it's become a money exchange and shopping mall. The next day he returns to purify the place and on the way speaks to the fruitless fig tree. an emblem of Israel. And the nation's leaders want to kill him.

The scene is set for what appears to be the last act. But it's only the ending of the first half. After an interval of three days the action will begin again when he rises from death and starts a spiritual revolution that nobody expected. Truly he is the One who was promised!

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