Last year Coram Deo sent a team of people to Austin, Texas, to plant Providence Church. Jeff Lark is an Austin resident and longtime Campus Crusade staff member who is part of the launch team for Providence. This week, Jeff is writing daily reflections on the final week of Jesus’ life. With his permission, I’m posting them here as well.
Reflection #1: Walking to the Cross – Mark 11:12-19
It wasn’t a “chip on the shoulder Jesus” who was experiencing stress from knowing that he would be murdered within a week. Rather, it was a Jesus who understood the seriousness of hypocrisy, heaven and hell, true worship, and the glory of God.
On Monday leading to Good Friday, the shadow of the cross was looming large. Even though the crowd was exuberant as He entered Jerusalem the day before, Jesus knew the fickleness of the human heart and that the cheers would turn to condemning accusations only within days.
But even though hatred, rejection, abandonment, and death were looming, Jesus’ actions on Monday didn’t have a taint of anxiety or revenge. Instead, the lamb-like Jesus was giving us a glimpse into His lion-like righteousness, justice, wrath, and fierce love for the purity of true worship and the glory of God.
As he entered into Jerusalem on Monday, the religious landscape looked good from a distance (“the fig tree was in leaf”). But upon a closer look, it was barren. And entering the temple, Jesus moved from looking at the landscape to stepping into the heart of the religious.
What we can know from this passage is that hearts of dependence (prayer) were replaced with hearts of independence and indifference toward the supremacy of God; the glory of God was replaced with greed; a God-honoring interaction with the nations was replaced with a God-belittling embarrassment; and a longing for the true Messiah was replaced with a hatred for one who didn’t meet their expectations.
And so I find myself – more easily identifying with the independent, greedy and god-belittling hearts of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day – a heart that has deep-rooted expectations of what my Messiah should be like. And, when he doesn’t answer my prayers fast enough, or doesn’t make life comfortable for me (as I define comfort), or doesn’t give me ministry success, or takes me through his strong hand of discipline, then instead of truly worshiping and bearing fruit that lasts, what comes from my life exposes a heart that’s not aligned with the purity of Christ.
But, thank God that the cross is only 4 days away. I am just as desperate for the cross as the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. Only at the cross can I find cleansing forgiveness for this wicked heart. And, it is only at the cross that the power of my sin is broken. The wrath that withers fig trees and turns over tables was poured out on Christ so that I don’t have to bear the weight of God’s overwhelming condemnation for all of eternity. Thank God for Friday.
Questions for reflection:
- In what ways have you replaced true fruit with just leaves (religious-looking outward performance)? In other words, “if people were to look at the landscape of my life, it would look good. But, if they got closer, they would see…”
- Where do you find my heart most identifying with the religious leaders of Jesus’ day (independence, greed, god-belittling actions, wrong expectations leading to indifference or anger toward God)?
- How can you believe the gospel more deeply to root out this sin your life?