The Messiah : Lessons from the final week of Jesus’s life
Epsiode 2: The Princess Spy – Heroes & Villains
This week we’re going to try to look at the incredible events that characterized the Lord Jesus’ final week of ministry in “real-time.” In this post, I’m touching on events that happened on the Monday and Tuesday after His triumphal descent on the Mount of Olives. The goal of this week’s posts is to spark a fresh love for the Lord and to learn practical/spiritual lessons to help us grow in Him.
Mark 11:11-33 show us both the humanity and divinity of Jesus Christ. He was God yet he was human and we see Him busily fulfilling prophecies with each beat of His glorious heart. Let’s zero in on this.
First, we see that Jesus is a planner. He’s not the kind of guy who just jumps at things impetuously. Instead, He surveys the situation and takes the appropriate action. Mark 11:11 shows us that He came into Jerusalem and “looked round about upon all things.” Then He turns around and leaves. In many ways, Christ here acts like Nehemiah who just surveyed everything before starting his work or rebuilding Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:11-15). This is good practice for all of us in our natural and spiritual lives. As Christians, we shouldn’t just jump at new things or be “trigger happy” in responding to situations. We should prayerfully sit back and look at what we see from a Word-standpoint and not an emotional one.
Christ was about to take dramatic action—and fulfill prophesy—but first He stops and assesses the situation. We don’t know what He saw but, whatever it was, it didn’t discourage Him from the work that He had to do.
Neither should we let what we see around us breed doubt or fear in our life. Instead, let us align the realities of our world with the Word of God and go forward to fulfill what God has called us to do in Christ’s name.
On the road to Jerusalem
Second, Jesus wasn’t just an observer. He was on a mission to redeem you from the power of the grave and the next morning (our Monday) He makes His way to Jerusalem from Bethany. This is a trip of about 2 miles but on this short trip we see a powerful reminder of the character of our Leader. Let’s join the disciples as they’re following him.
There had to be a sense of anticipation, and probably fear. No one knew exactly what was going to happen when Jesus got to Jerusalem. Some of the disciples are thinking Christ is definitely going to proclaim Himself King. After the triumphal entry, how could He not? Others are wondering how the priests and religious leaders will react. But Jesus has something else on His mind.
He stops abruptly near a leafy fig tree and starts to look for food.
Now, I want you just to consider this for a moment. Jesus is about to claim His throne. Or so everyone thinks. In a time like this, why focus on food? I don’t know about you but, if I was about to take over the world, looking for figs would be the last thing on my mind. Even worse, this isn’t fig season! Fig trees in Israel typically start bearing fruit in late April but here we are, probably two weeks before that time.
But we see the Master has a purpose for everything that He does. Not only do we see Christ’s humanity but we also see Him for what He is—the wisest Teacher that ever lived. Jesus curses the fig tree. Through this experience, He’s about to radically alter His disciples perception of their relationship to God.
In the temple
Let’s imagine we’re standing with the disciples as Jesus enters Jerusalem. We see Him just ahead of us, flanked by Peter, James and John. He goes straight to the temple and we know that the tension which has been brewing between our Leader and the Sanhedrin is about to spill over.
The armed temple guards and Jesus stare at each other across the courtyard on the outer part of the temple. Peter’s right hand drops to the hilt of his sword. Around us are the money changers and the sellers of lambs and doves and crowds of worshippers give our group a wide berth as they streamtoward the inner court.
And then it happens.
For many people, this is probably the hardest part of Jesus’s ministry to accept. Christ—the Lord of love—violently takes over the temple. This isn’t a quick emotional flareup; Christ’s anger lasts long enough for Him to braid a rope together and beat them out of the temple.
Here we see His divinity. It’s important to remember that this is the same God that thundered on Mount Sinai but He is veiled behind human flesh. This is the same God whose wrath drowned the world in Noah’s day. This is the same God that is coming soon to cleanse, not only the temple, but the whole world!
Jesus was angry, yes. But His anger was fueled by His desire to see God’s word accomplished. Here, even in His anger, He was fulfilling prophesy (see Psalm 69:9). Now here’s a great lesson to apply to our life.
We all get angry. But, in our anger, let our emotions and actions be subject to “thus saith the Lord” at all times. Christians should not curse or be crude in their anger. Jesus did none of these things yet He was really upset. Another thing that stands out to me is why He was angry.
Jesus was was upholding the family honor. His Father’s house was being violated. His Father’s Name was being disgraced by those who claimed to worship Him. And He, as the Son of God, was on the scene to set things straight.
Today, we are God’s representatives. We are here to set the record straight. We don’t need the tables of the moneychangers or the dove sellers to be overthrown but we do need the idols of unbelief, hypocrisy, and “churchianity” to be demolished.
Paul told us that we are here to cast down spiritual enemy strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). As Sons and Daughters of the Father, it is our responsibility to tear down every attempt Satan makes to pervert true worship in our lives. The Father’s Name and Honor is at stake and the enemy is hard at work.
Let us be busy.
I’d like to point out that Jesus dominated the floor at this stage. The Bible said that he “would not allow any man to carry any vessel through the temple” (verse 16). He was clearly in control of the situation. He was the judge, the Lord, determining what would and would not get through. All pretended religious authority had to bow to the authority of this “Carpenter from Galilee” for in Him, the God-Man, lay true authority.
And, if He’s in us, that puts us in control of the situation today. Under His authority, you—not society, not the church, not the devil—decide what comes in and out of your life. Let us break the power of the enemy by refusing him to push anything through in our life.
Let’s keep this temple clean.
Jesus did not often stay in cities. Frankly, I can’t think of a time the Bible tells that He ever spent the night in Jerusalem beside (presumably) from when He was left there by Mary and Joseph at age 12. So after cleansing the temple, He again leaves Jerusalem. He’s an early riser so we see Him on the move again toward Jerusalem in the morning the next day.
We’re right behind Peter when we pass the fig tree that Jesus cursed just yesterday.
“Master!” Peter shouts. “Look at this! The fig tree you cursed is dead!” We all turn to stare at the fig tree, our minds struggling to absorb the reality of this latest miracle. For it is indeed a miracle. Trees don’t just die and decay overnight. And this tree was healthy enough to bear fruit 24 hours ago. Something has clearly happened.
Now I want you to notice something you may have overlooked. Jesus knows what this week holds. THe masses that throng Him now will turn against Him in just a few days. He will be betrayed. Arrested. Verbally and physically abused. He will be shamed, stripped naked and murdered in one of the cruelest ways possible.
So, with all that on His mind, why teach this lesson now?
I believe that here He taught us a lesson about the power of our relationship to God. And that lesson is the most important lesson one we can learn.
In verses 22-26, The Messiah shows us that He is here to restore all the power and benefits that were lost after the Fall. He taught us that faith is based on forgiveness. That restoration of our relationship to God allows us to have a restored relationship with our fellow man. Essentially, His entire ministry is summed up in these verses.
Fellow Christians, God makes no mistakes. Jesus taught by example not just words. Here He showed us that the same power and life that flowed in Him is more than able to change circumstances (move mountains) in our own lives if we approach Him on the basis of undiluted faith. It took time for Jesus’s Word to come to pass (within 24 hours) but it happened. And we ought to be so encouraged right here.
If He had the Spirit without measure and it took time for His word to materialize, we shouldn’t be discouraged when our confession of His Word in faith takes time to materialize for we have just a portion of His spirit.
Believe! His Word cannot fail.
The final authority
Satan always likes to challenge authority and he was busy doing just that through the religious leaders in Christ’s day. Sadly, not much has changed in 2,000 years with many spiritual leaders opting for political, social, and material gain. But despite the fallibilities of the clergy, Christ showed that the Word is the ultimate authority in verses 27-33 and when It speaks nothing can confound it.
What about you?
Let me know what stands out to you from this passage by commenting below. Don’t forget to join me for tomorrow’s blog post.