Tuesday, 07 November 2023
Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’?... -Mark 11:17
Jesus’ discourse and actions at the Temple, the prime place of worship for the people of His day will be the focus of our meditation today. He entered the temple courts and found all sorts of businesses happening around except the business of true prayer being offered to God! Instead of the temple being a “house of prayer,” they had turned it to a “den of robbers” (Mark 11:17). Jesus does a cleansing here because the true purpose of the temple – PRAYER, was not served!
In the midst of this Jesus taught them a lesson on prayer:
• One must have faith in God that He will answer prayer (V.22) – Hebrews 11:6 says “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Prayer must be offered in faith. James 1:6-7 says, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.”
• One must pray on the level ground of forgiveness (V.26) – there must be an assurance that our sins are forgiven and we have forgiven the sins of those who have wronged us- Luke 11:4: “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.” Many prayers are unanswered because of this one sin in our lives – unforgiveness!
Then we can be assured that our prayers are heard and answered according to God’s will.
The scribes and chief priests were annoyed at Jesus’ action- their hearts were far from being true and sincere and their only intention was to reject Jesus and find grounds to destroy him. In the chief priest rested the spiritual authority of the temple – relating to the sacraments and the worship. But the system that God had ordained had failed-the priests too had failed to do their right duty. Since their hearts were not right with God, they could not perceive Jesus as sent by God into their midst. Whatever we are doing without a true heart to God will ultimately become rituals. Here the things that were happening in the temple under the priests were only rituals and weren’t acceptable to God.
When we look into fig tree, the fruit of the fig-tree appears before the leaves, and hence if the tree produced leaves it ought also to have had fruit. It ought to have fruit if it had been true to its "pretensions," in showing its leaves at this particular season. Israel is a chosen one to bear spiritual fruits for the nations and Gentiles around her so that they would know the true GOD and turn to Him. But it failed. It should have been a house of prayer for all nations! (V.17)
Be careful of doing “spiritual things” without having a true relationship with God! A spiritual barrenness will set in, which may not be visible outside but its on the inside. What can be done to a barren soul who has only leaves but no true fruit of righteousness? Today let us repent of our sin and allow the Lord Jesus to cleanse our hearts with His precious blood to have a true relationship with God so that we can have the confidence that when we ask in faith, He will answer us! Now we can become the temple of God to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God! (cf. 1Peter 2:5)
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, please cleanse my heart of sin and let me be a holy temple where I can offer prayer pleasing to You. Amen.