Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Fig Tree/Temple Recall (Mark 11:12-21)

In modern societies like ours we have things like “Lemon Laws” and we are thankful that they exist. If we buy a product and it doesn’t work as we were promised, we can return it and get our money back. What is the point of buying something that isn’t going to work?

In God’s economy, the purpose of His Church is to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If a church isn’t going to do what it was intended to, God will work—and bless—another group of His followers. He is not helplessly dependent on our obedience.

In this text, we are not shown the Church’s purpose directly, but by way of the Old Covenant’s failure we can infer that message. Jesus begins with an illustration in the manor of the Old Testament prophets:

The fig tree Jesus and His disciples encounter on their way to Jerusalem was created with a purpose: to produce figs. It was cursed for not fulfilling its purpose. The cursing of the tee may seem harsh, but it was done to serve a higher purpose… to teach a more important lesson:

Jesus shut the temple activities down because the temple was not accomplishing its purpose. The temple’s purpose was to be a house of prayer for the nations. We see this in Is. 56. God says that the purpose of His temple is to draw the whole world into His covenant. It is not solely intended for Israel. Their purpose, according to Exodus 19, was to be priests drawing all men into relationship with God. Instead, they had taken pride in what they saw as an exclusive arrangement. The second text Jesus quotes here, is Jer. 7:11. In it, God tells Jeremiah that He is done using the Temple. The children of Israel had come to believe that they were safe and could sin all they wanted as long as they kept up the religion of the Temple.

The words Jesus spoke about the temple, as well as the evidence of the fig tree the next day, showed an important transition in the way God was dealing with the world:

The Church now has the primary responsibility to bring God’s story of love to all peoples. In the week Jesus was headed to the cross to pay for the sins of the world, He taught that God was no longer going to use the Temple, nor the Law to be in a relationship with the world. Through the death of Christ, everyone would have access to Him in faith, and it would now be the Church’s role to reach the world, just as it had been the Temple’s.

Everything we do as a Church needs to be held up to the standard of our primary task.

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