Read Mark 11:12-19
What are you passionate about? It might be difficult to discern this, but one of the easiest ways to help expose what our passions are is to ask what makes us angry? What events or actions cause us to become upset, angry, even zealous? The root of those issues is often the things we are most passionate about.
The Monday of Holy Week is an interesting day in Jesus' life and ministry. It's the day he displayed his anger. He showed what he is most deeply passionate about. We must be careful not to think that Jesus' display of anger on this day was in some way sinful anger or short-tempered, ill-directed frustration. His anger on this day was completely appropriate and indicative of the righteous zeal of Jesus. The things Jesus was passionate about were things he should have been passionate about. Particularly Jesus displayed his passion for three things.
1. Jesus Is Passionate For Authentic Living
In Mark's account of Jesus' Monday (Mark 11:11-19) we discover Jesus cursing at a tree. It's a seemingly odd situation because Jesus goes to find figs from a fig tree and because of it's fruitlessness he curses the tree to death. This wasn't a case of Jesus having a bad case of the "Mondays" and tossing a fit because his favorite tree was out of stock. Jesus' cursing of a fruitless fig tree was a parallel of the fruitlessness that Jesus saw in the lives of the religious leadership of Israel at the time. The religious leaders showed life on the outside, but on the inside they were dead and worthless.
Jesus displays his desire for our lives to be authentic, to be real. He's not about outward displays of religion without inward change. He doesn't want worshippers going through the motion, living one way and pretending another. He expects authentic fruitfulness from his people, especially the people that lead his church. Jesus' anger is directed at those who on the outside look the part, but on the inside are spiritually dead.
2. Jesus Is Passionate For Actual Worship
That Monday continued to demonstrate the passions at the heart of Jesus as he went to temple. As he entered the temple Mark tells us that he began to drive out the commercial boutiques around the temple courts that sold sacrifices for worship. He flipped over the tables where the currency exchange was taking place as people traded their Roman coins at an exorbitant rate for the approved temple coins. He moved through the temple clearing out anyone that was working in a manner unfitting for the temple. Jesus went on a purifying rampage.
What had Jesus so upset? He was demonstrating that the temple place, the place of God's presence with his people, wasn't a place for the cheap manipulation and marketplace industry of sacrifice. The temple was a place of prayer. The temple culture of the day had made worship a commodity. It had found a business niche for trading coins at unfair rates. The temple culture had a thriving cattle, sheep, and pigeon exchange. It profited the sellers off of the worship of God. The temple became a market place.
As Timothy Keller says:
Jesus was returning to a place that was religiously very busy, just like most churches are: tasks, committees, noise, people coming and going, lots of transactions. But the busyness contained no spirituality. Nobody was actually praying. There are many things we do that can appear to be signs of real belief but can grow without real heart change. Evidently we can be very busy in church activities without real heart change and without real compassionate involvement with others.1
Jesus was passionate to see the right worship of God, not the industry of professionalized "church" flourish.
3. Jesus is Passionate For All Peoples
As he was clearing out the temple Jesus remarked about the purpose of this place of worship. He quotes the Scriptures and states, "Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?"
All this exchange and bartering had been going on most likely in the one place at the temple where non-Jewish worshippers could go. It was called the Court of the Gentiles. In clearing out this expansive area that had become a public market Jesus sought to return it to it's right function, a place where people who were far from God could draw near to him. A place where the nations could come and worship God.
It shows us Jesus' heart for all the nations. He doesn't have concern for just one ethnic group or people. He is passionate about every peoples, every tribe, every tongue, every nation.
For Jesus this day exposes the very things he passionate about, authentic lives, actual worship, all peoples. It also exposes what we are passionate about. Are you passionate for the same things that Jesus is passionate for?
- Keller, Timothy (2011-02-22). King's Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus (p. 159). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition. ↩