October 5, 2015, Mark 11:1-11:33
“Le Figuier Maudit” by James Tissot
Prayer for Illumination
Living God, open my heart, mind, and body to experience you in this reading of scripture, that in experiencing you I might grow into someone who brings you honor. Amen.
11:1 When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2and said to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. 3If anyone says to you, “Why are you doing this?” just say this, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.” ’ 4They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, 5some of the bystanders said to them, ‘What are you doing, untying the colt?’ 6They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. 7Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. 8Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. 9Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’
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.
12 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry.13Seeing 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. 14He said to it, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again.’ And his disciples heard it.
15 Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves; 16and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17He 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.’
18And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. 19And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.
20 In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21Then Peter remembered and said to him, ‘Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.’ 22Jesus answered them, ‘Have faith in God. 23Truly 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. 24So 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.’
27 Again they came to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him 28and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?’ 29Jesus said to them, ‘I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. 30Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me.’31They argued with one another, ‘If we say, “From heaven”, he will say, “Why then did you not believe him?” 32But shall we say, “Of human origin”?’—they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet. 33So 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.’
In today’s reading, just as Christ goes to see if a fig tree has borne any fruit, he goes into Jerusalem to see if it is ready to receive the Kingdom of God and bear fruit. The temple, the chief priests, the elders, and the fig tree all fail the surprise inspection.
If Christ “surprise inspected” our day to day operations as a church, how do you think we would fare? Especially imagine what Christ would find on a Sunday morning.
How about if Christ “surprise inspected” your family’s way of life? Your home? What would he find? Fruits of the Kingdom of God?
If you’re participating in these daily readings through Facebook, comment to this post with your answer to this question: If you were looking for a new church, what are some of the fruits you’d hope to find?
Opportunity for Action
Take a minute to e-mail the pastors with some feedback that you think Christ would want our church to have.
Offer your own prayer or simply close your time of reflection with the Lord’s Prayer spoken aloud.