Faithlife Sermons

God's Presence Among Us

The Gospel of Mark  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  48:38
0 ratings
· 12 views
Files
Notes
Transcript
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →
Introduction:
If you have your Bibles let me invite you to open with me to the book of Mark chapter 11:12-21.
Lets begin in verse 12 and then lets pray for understanding.
Mark 11:12–21 (ESV)
12 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry.
13 And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.
14 And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.
15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.
16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple.
17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “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.”
18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching.
19 And when evening came they went out of the city.
20 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots.
21 And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”
Lets Pray
If you have been following along with us in our study of the gospel of Mark… you may have recognized in this passage yet another occasion of the sandwiching technique.
If you haven’t been with us let me briefly explain.
Mark uses a literary structure where he sandwiches material in order to make a point.
The two outer stories share the same theme and like two pieces of bread on the outside they compliment whats in the middle.
The entire book is in fact one giant sandwhich.
In Mark chapter 1, at Jesus’ baptism, The skies tear open and a voice from heaven declares Jesus to be the Son of God.
At the End of the Gospel… Jesus dies on a cross… and at his death the veil in the temple tears open and at the same time one of the Roman soldiers declares, “surely this was the Son of God”
Everything in the middle proves this point.. Jesus really is the Son of God.
In this case, however, its a much smaller, much simpler sandwich that starts with a fig tree and ends with a fig tree.
You can see the structure on the screen.
A. Jesus Rebukes a Fig Tree
B. Jesus Rebukes the Temple
A. The Fig Tree Withers
The Fig tree story is meant to help us understand the temple story and the temple story is meant to help us understand the fig tree story…
So lets begin with the fig tree.
Mark 11:12–14 ESV
12 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. 13 And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.
What in the world is going on here?
Imagine overhearing this and watching this from the perspective of the disciples....
Jesus has said some crazy stuff in the past… but this was particularly odd.
Jesus sees a fig tree in leaf…
So he sees a fig tree that externally looks like it should be a tree that produces fruit… but upon closer examination Jesus discovers that it is fruitless.
Then Jesus rebukes the tree
in fact, he curses the tree to never be fruitful again.
It seems a little out of character for Jesus…
I mean, If I had that kind of temperament I’d pretty much be cursing everything I ever tried to grow in my backyard.
In fact, I have some blue berry bushes and a lemon tree that I would have cursed about three years in a row now cause they have not produced anything. If you were to walk up on me declaring over a tree that it should never bear fruit again, you would have some questions for my current mental state.
Is Jesus simply demonstrating the emotion that many of us might call “hangry”? Is he hungry/angry and thus taking it out on this tree?
Or is there more going on here??
The story just kinds of moves on from the fig tree incident to… and honestly it won’t make much sense until we circle back around at the end.
The story transitions immediately from the rebuke of the fig tree, to Jesus’ entrance into the temple.
Mark 11:15 (ESV)
15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple.....
Now let me pause here to set the scene… because I think its important that you visualize what Jesus was walking in to.
I’ll throw up a picture representing just the physical magnitude of the temple that Jesus and his disciples were entering into.
Listen to one commentator’s description of what Jesus would have been entering.
The temple consisted of four divisions.
The first and largest division was the court of the Gentiles.
It was 500 yards long by 325 yards wide.
This means that the temple court was thirty five acres in land area.
And enclosing this portico were rows of columns 35 feet tall and so massive that it took three persons with hands joined together to surround one of them at the base.
In this large court, merchants sold sheep and doves for sacrifice and they exchanged foreign currencies.
Many people made pilgrimages to come and sacrifice to the one true God…, but instead of bringing an animal with them… they brought money to purchase an animal without blemish when they arrived.... but money could not be used in the temple if it had images of false gods or Roman leaders on it. The coins had to be pure an unmarked with pagan images… so money exchanges were also set up.
all of this was of course overseen by the Sadducees and the Sanhedrin… the Jewish religious leaders
The enormity of this operation is beyond a few tables and a heard of sheep.
In A.D. 66 Josephus comments that on passover that year… 255,600 lambs were sacrificed.
This is when Jesus was entering the temple. It was passover week so the hustle and bustle would have been overwhelming.
This is the temple that Jesus was entering… it was a massive spectacle of epic proportions designed to point the world to the glory of the one true God.
And here enters… the one true God in the flesh…
Mark 11:15–16 ESV
15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple.
Again, whats the deal with Jesus?
Did he just wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning?
First the fig tree…
And now Jesus enters into the most sacred space in all of Judaism and in all of the world… and he completely loses his cool.
Jesus enters the temple… and he begins to
drive people out
he begins to overturn tables of money changers.
This is unlike anything we have ever seen from Jesus.
We have seen him get intense a couple times with his words, but this is the first time we have seen such a physical reaction to something such as flipping over tables.
John tells us that Jesus literally came in there with a whip to drive out the animals waiting to be sold and sacrificed.
John 2:15 ESV
15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.
This is what we should want to know when we come to this text....
Why was Jesus so mad?
After all the stupidity we have seen from the disciples over the last several chapters, why in the world was Jesus this provoked to this level of anger when he entered the temple in Jersualem?
We should certainly want to know what kinds of behavior and what kids of attitudes would infuriate Jesus to this degree and we should be warned by it?
So here is our path forward for the rest of our time together. In order to really get at what outraged Jesus.
We need to look at several things.
We get a little more clarity in verse 17 when Jesus begins to teach.
Mark 11:17 ESV
17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “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.”
Just like we underestimate the physical magnitude of the temple as 21st century readers… we also underestimate the theological magnitude of the temple in the Biblical story.
Jesus quotes from Isaiah 56 and he points to two very significant purposes for which the temple was built.

#1 The Temple Was Built for Drawing Near to the Presence of God

Jesus says that it was to be a place of prayer.
It was to be a place where people could draw near to the presence of God.
A few weeks ago, we noted that the story of the Bible is a story about two kingdoms…
The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Man...
But that is not the only thread you could use to tell the Biblical story…
The story of the Bible could also be told as the story of God’s Presence and God’s People.
The Garden of Eden was a temple of sorts for Adam and Eve.
In the beginning, God himself was very much with his people.
He makes himself manifest to his people.
He even walks in the presence of the garden with his people.
There was no separation. There was no shame. There was no fear.
Man felt at home with God… and God freely drew near his people...
Until… sin entered the world and for the first time in the history of the cosmos… God’s presence was not a safe space for the people he had created.
Notice the language of Genesis 3:8 shortly after Adam and Eve sinned against God.
Genesis 3:8 ESV
8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
Sin introduced shame.
It introduced guilt.
It introduced separation.
Sin is not safe in the presence of a holy God… because God had declared that its consequence would be death.
In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve are kicked out of the Garden of Eden and they are left to live life in a broken world where they will sense a kind of separation and distance from God.... a distance that is still felt today.
The story of the Bible does not end there, however.
God begins to make promises…,
He begins to take steps to teach his people why is presence is dangerous to them… and how he plans to rectify the separation.
The temple was a big part of this cosmic demonstration.
In the book of Exodus… God again manifests his presence, this time, to the people of Israel.... and again the message is similar.
God desires relationship with you…, but his holy presence is dangerous to you because you are a sinner and he is like a holy fire consuming sin and sinners in judgment.
What you need is a miracle… what you need is a miracle of God some how allowing you into his presence without you getting consumed in the process…
You need a burning bush like miracle… a miracle like that of a bush being engulfed in flame but not burnt up.
In Exodus 19, God descends upon the Mt. Sinai in fire and the message is clear.
God’s holy presence is dangerous for you without certain provisions being made by God.
The rest of the book of Exodus makes those provisions by way of a tabernacle which would later become an established temple in the promised land.
By God’s decree, the temple would become the meeting place of God.
It would be a symbol of both God’s desire to dwell with his people…, and the separation that sin has caused.
Everything about the temple pointed to God’s plan and God’s desire for returning his people to a Garden-of-Eden-like presence with God through a blood sacrifice.
The whole temple became more and more glorious and lavish as you moved into its center which is where you found a room called the Holy of Holies.
This room is where God would manifest the fullness of his presence.
In that room and on your way to that room, images of the garden of Eden would have caught your eye everywhere…Even the lamp lighting the way took the shape of a beautiful tree, much like the tree of life.
But separating you from the place of God’s presence was a large veil with golden cherubim angels woven into its fabric… much like the angels said to have been placed to guard the entrance of the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3.
The only way into that room of God’s most manifest presence, was through Gods very specific way.
Only a high priest and only once a year and only with a sacrifice of a spotless lamb without blemish or spot could a human being enter into the presence of God to commune with him.
Outside of that very special day and in the outer cours… sacrifices and prayers were made constantly
God instituted a system of worship that would remind worshippers of the punishment for sin.
Animals were sacrificed on alters as acts of worship and symbols of atonement being made and forgiveness being sought from God.
The whole temple system made a way to draw near to God…, but it also pointed to the way that would be made through a perfect sacrifice yet to come.
because we are far removed from the days of the Jewish temple and of worship through blood sacrifice… we underestimate how integral it would have been for Jewish life and their sense of relationship with God.
Worship in the temple was the height of spirituality.
The temple was the means through which they expressed and experienced relationship with God.
It was where prayers were made, thanksgiving was shown, sins were repented of, worship was given.
Can we just pause here and marvel for just a moment.....
The holy, eternal, glorious, and just God of the universe desires your worship…
He wants you to draw near.
He has always been making provisions and pathways for finite sinful people like you and me to draw near to God relationally.
The Temple was a huge physical reminder that God desires to be near to his people and be worshipped by them.
But these are not the priorities that Jesus finds in the temple.
Like a fig tree with big beautiful leafs… the temple was a beautiful spectacle from a distance.... but upon closer examination… It was a fruitless enterprise.
Mark 11:17 (ESV)
17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “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.”
The den of robbers language was also a quote from the Old Testament.
Jesus was bringing a situation in Israel’s ancient history to bear on their present.
Or rather, he was declaring that their present situation was no different from what it was in the worst moments of Israel’s past.
Israel had a history of corrupting the temple… In fact, it was this corruption that once got this temple destroyed.
Jesus borrows the phrase “den of robbers” from Jeremiah chapter 7, but I think he means to apply the whole context of that chapter.
Listen to the rebuke of Jeremiah and it sheds light on what is happening in the temple.
Jeremiah 7:1–11 ESV
1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the Lord. 3 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place. 4 Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.’ 5 “For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another, 6 if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm, 7 then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever. 8 “Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail. 9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, 10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’—only to go on doing all these abominations? 11 Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the Lord.
Why is Jesus so angry?
He enters in t the place where God is to be worshipped.... and he finds hypocrites.
He enters into the place where God is to be glorified most.... and he finds the glory of God being exchanged for money and selfish ambition.
The religious leaders overseeing the temple had turned the temple into big business.
Merchants sold animal sacrifices in the court for inflated prices and those sells were taxed by the temple leadership.
Merchants exchanged money but that money was taxed by the temple leadership...
Worship was happening in the temple…, but it wasn’t worship of the one true God.... It was worship of comfort, possessions, money, and self all in the name of the one true God.
Why is Jesus so angry?
He enters the place where God was to look supremely valuable in the worshippers of his great name… and he found upon closer inspection… God was being made to look worthless in the lives of those present.
along the way… the goal of the temple was no longer to draw near to the presence of God in prayer.
It was no longer about having a right relationship with God.
It was no longer about hearing his word and obeying it.
It was no longer about offering worship to he who is worthy of all things.
The glory of God had been exchanged for power and possessions.
The text says that Jesus was stopping people from passing through carrying things.
Because the temple courts were so large, the temple became a short cut if you wanted to get from one side of the city to the other....
people were passing through the courts of the temple with no intention of worshipping God, but only to increase their convenience of travel… and a long the way the merchant booths tried to entice them to buy what they were selling.
How quickly can the things of God become common place in our lives?
How easily do we take very good things that glorify God… and do we twist them into things that glorify self?
Why is Jesus so angry?
God’s people looked religious like a fig tree in full leaf… but upon closer examination… no fruit was found…
No love for God was found… no desire to draw near his presence was found.
Let me ask you a question… If Jesus were to take a closer look at your life what would he find?
And all of this countered yet another purpose for which the temple was built.
Notice the second part of Jesus’ quotation.
Mark 11:17 (ESV)
17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?

#2 The Temple was Built to Draw in the Nations of the World

One of the very clear purposes of the temple, was not just to provide a place for Jews to worship, but it was to provide a witness to the watching world.
Listen to Solomon’s prayer when the temple was first constructed and filled with God’s Spirit.
2 Chronicles 6:33 ESV
33 hear from heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that this house that I have built is called by your name.
Again, listen to Isaiah’s prophecy from which Jesus quotes.
Isaiah 56:6–8 ESV
6 “And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant— 7 these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” 8 The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, “I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered.”
This is what the temple was built for… for enjoying the presence of God in worship and prayer… and for spreading the glory of God to people from all nations..
Do you hear the heart of God in Isaiah 56:8
Isaiah 56:8 ESV
8 The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, “I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered.”
God’s mission has always been a global one… and God has always intended to use his people to lead others to become his people.
From the moment he told Adam and Eve to fill the earth with his glory…,
to the promise of blessing to Abraham that all the families of the earth would be blessed
… God has always been about spreading his glory to ever corner of the earth.
The 35 acre court for the gentile nations to come in and worship was a testimony to the fact that God’s salvation was not just for one kind of people....
It was a salvation that was to extend to all peoples of all kinds from all places.
We serve an evangelistic God.
We serve a glory overflowing and spreading God.
He extends his invitation to those whom you would never think could ever come into the presence of a Holy God.
The temple was built for drawing in the nations of the world.
But rather than drawing in the nations… the nations were being exploited.
Rather than finding the glory of the one true God…
they found a system within the temple walls that looked a lot like the greedy and selfish world outside the temple walls.
Why was Jesus so angry?
Because he loves the nations.
He loves the outcast and the sojourner.
He loves the impoverished and the lowly.
He loves the sinner who comes in repentance to pray.
And in this moment…, it was those people who were being led astray by the temple system that was meant to draw them in.
Glory exchange is never a victimless crime.
Hypocrisy is never a victimless crime.
Your walk with God…, whether you want it to or not…, affects the watching world.
Your representation of the value of God in your life verses the value you place on other things is being assessed by a watching world.
What you post on facebook matters to a watching world.... People who say they worship God become representatives of that God whether they realize it or not.
Let me ask you a question… Though you may say religious things…, though you may do religious things… upon closer examination would the non-Christians around you notice anything supernatural about your life?
Would they notice anything other worldly?
Would they notice real sacrifice, genuine love, real and meaningful prayer, a love for God’s word,…, or would they see simply a cleaner version of the rest of the world?
Why was Jesus so angry?
Because he loves the Glory of God… and he hates when God is defamed by the ones who claim to worship him.
#1 The Temple Was Built For Drawing Near to the Presence of God.
#2 The Temple Was Built For Drawing In the Nations of the World.
Mark 11:17–21 ESV
17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “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.” 18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. 19 And when evening came they went out of the city. 20 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21 And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”
Now we come to the conclusion of the sandwich.
The fruitless fig tree rebuked by Jesus at the beginning of the story has now withered and died at the end of the story.
So what’s the point?
Well there are two fruitless institutions that Jesus rebukes.
He rebukes the fig tree.... and he rebukes the temple.
and now we have seen what happened to the fig tree.... so what’s going to happen to the temple?
The story leave you to discover the temple’s end later in the story… but the indication is clear.
The temple and its sacrificial system is over. It will wither away to nothingness...
Later in Mark, we will see that Jesus very clearly predicts the actual destruction of the physical temple.
But that is not to say it will not be replaced.
In fact, Jesus came to replace it.

#3 Jesus Came to Fulfill What the Temple Foreshadowed.

Everything that the temple symbolized was actually fulfilled and accomplished in Jesus.
Jesus became the dwelling place of God on Earth… because Jesus was in fact God in human flesh.
He was the temple of God… the place where you come if you want to draw near to the presence of God.…
He was the temple of God… not standing still in one place…, but actually going to the nations to draw them to himself.
Jesus is the Holiest of Holies.
Jesus is the Highest of Priests who came to offer the Final Sacrifice.
Jesus is the Lamb without spot or blemish whose blood would be shed for our forgiveness of sins.
It was by way of Jesus’ death that the veil would be torn in two from top to bottom declaring to the world that the presence of God is now made available to you who trust in Jesus.
Hebrews 10:19–23 ESV
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
If you want to draw near to one true God this morning turn your eyes upon Jesus and believe.
If you want to be forgiven of your sins this morning turn your eyes upon Jesus who shed his blood to take the penalty of sin in your place… Believe upon him and receive his forgiveness.
Why was Jesus so angry in the temple that day?
Because it all was designed to point to him and what he would one day do to reconcile sinful people back to the presence of a holy God.
Jesus Came to Fulfill What the Temple Foreshadowed...
But that is not all.
This leads to a fourth and final truth.

#4 Jesus Came to Build a New Temple

We are that temple.
Because of what Jesus did… God’s presence is no longer restricted to Brick and mortar...., but God makes himself known in us and through us as God’s church.
This is what we are called to be.... St. Rose Community Church
Ephesians 2:22 ESV
22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
1 Peter 2:4–5 ESV
4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
As the living breathing temple of God on Earth.... we too accomplish similar things that the old temple was designed to accomplish.
When we gather together we enjoy the presence of God together.
We pray.. We worship… We hear God’s word and respond to God’s word.
We have no blood sacrifices to make… rather we celebrate and remember the perfect one made on our behalf.
If someone wants to draw near to God… they will see him and experience him when his people are gathered to worship him.
Our lives are meant to shine as a spectacle for the glory of God.
The nations are meant to watch our lives and be drawn to the one true God who appears to be supremely valuable by the way we live our life.
But unlike the physical temple… we don’t stay put and wait for the nations to come to us.
We take the glory of God to them!
We go to the nations as ambassadors and witnesses to the Jesus who saved us and the Spirit of God who fills us.
We go therefore and we make disciples of all nations
The power of the presence of God now fill us as we are his witnesses to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth.
1 Peter 2:9–12 ESV
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
Local churches… and by local churches… I mean the people of the local churches are now God’s device for spreading his glory to every corner of the globe.
This is the purpose of our lives…
We draw near to God in worship… and we are sent out to the nations on mission.
Let me conclude with this....
If Jesus were to enter into the courts of your heart and your life… would he find fruit that corresponds with the leaves?
Would he find a heart that loves drawing near to God and longs to reach the nations?
… or would he find a fruitless heart who loves looking religious all the while worships self.
Turn to Jesus this morning and find forgiveness.
Turn to Jesus and find the purpose for which we live our lives.
Lets Pray.
Related Media
Related Sermons