Mark 11:15-33

Jesus apparently expects some decorum in the temple, but instead it’s a marketplace filled with commerce and animals. Not exactly the atmosphere you would expect from a house of prayer for all nations! There were probably people making an exorbitant profit by offering to exchange foreign money for the temple currency, as well as from selling imperfect animals for sacrifices. That’s the most likely reason Jesus said they were turning the temple into a den of robbers. There is a caution for us here. We should make sure that our own churches are doing “everything in a decent and orderly manner” (1 Corinthians 14:40).

Hyperbole = a figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect. We should expect Jesus as a master teacher to use all the tools in His toolbox when trying to make a point. Jesus uses the withered fig tree to make a point about prayer, and he does it with hyperbolic language. Can we really move a mountain if we just truly believe? What about all the reasons we have in God’s Word for unanswered prayer? Torrey’s Topical Textbook gives us 16 reasons our prayers aren’t answered! In fact we have one here: if we harbor bitterness and an unforgiving spirit, then God won’t answer our own prayers for forgiveness! Jesus even voiced a prayer that wasn’t answered positively, but He also prayed “yet not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). The main point that Jesus is making is simple: ask and believe. If it’s right, and proper, and in God’s will for us, then we’ll receive it.

Next, Jesus is confronted by the religious leadership. They want to know where Jesus gets his authority from. The leadership could point to teachers and schools, but Jesus just showed up! If Jesus gave them the truth (that His authority was from God) they wouldn’t accept it and would use it against Him. So instead, He asks them about the baptism of John, knowing that however they answer will get them into trouble. They refuse to answer, so Jesus refuses too.

For worship:

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