In Mark’s Gospel, chapter 11 in particular, verses 11-21, we Jesus’ activities following on to the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, recorded in the previous section of this gospel. In this passage see unusual incidences:
- The cursing of the fig tree
- The cleansing of the temple.
The cursing of the fig tree was an acted-out parable related to the clearing of the temple. The temple was supposed to be a place of worship, but true worship had disappeared. The fig tree showed promise of fruit, it produced none. In these instances, Jesus shows his anger at religious life without substance. If we claim to have faith without putting it to work in our lives, we are like the barren fig tree. Genuine faith has great potential. The Epistle of James tells us that faith without work is dead (James 2:14-17).
In this passage, we see that Jesus got angry but did not sin (vv. 15-17). Here see that there is a place for righteous indignation. Christians have a right to be upset about sin and injustice and should take a stand against them. Unfortunately, believers are often passive about these important issues and instead get angry over personal insults and petty irritations.
As our wake-up call this Easter Season, Christ would urge us to practice true religion, that is, to visit the sick, take care of the weak and provide for the hungry. This is the true religion whose fruits are visible, productive and helpful. How about injustices and corruption in our society today? If we are angry about these vices let us discuss them with authorities and leaders since doing so is the first step towards bringing any change where we live.
In this passage, Jesus also talked about prayer as an essential feature in Christian life, a feature that changes circumstances which we may find ourselves in from time to time. God will answer our prayers, Jesus said (vv. 24-25), but not as a result of our positive mental attitude. Other conditions must be met:
- We must be believers
- We must not hold a grudge against anyone
- We must not pray with selfish motives
- Our request must be for the good of God’s kingdom.
To pray effectively, we need faith in God, not faith in the objects of our request. If we focus on our request, we will be left with nothing if our request is refused.
May God help us this Easter Season to practice true religion and learn to pray that God’s kingdom may come to us, live among us and change us.
Great God, cleanse your church of fake piety, overturn our greed, and let us be a holy people, repentant, prayerful, and ready to worship you in Spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord.