Hallowed Be Your Name
Loving Lord, I praise You that I can come in confidence because You hear my prayers and You will act.
Read Mark 11:12-19
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION
“Prayer is the fount from which all Christian belief and action flows, the daily bending of our lives toward a God who has, in Jesus Christ, so graciously leaned toward us” (Stanley Hauerwas). A vital insight!
Have you ever woken up the day after a special event and felt a bit depressed and grumpy? Maybe a similar response might explain why Jesus seems angry today, but I think not. He knew at the end of the previous day what he would need to do (Mark 11:11). (We’ll come back to the intriguing fig tree episode tomorrow.) The temple was a significant place for Jesus. There he had interacted with the teachers in his youth; there he had healed, taught and prayed. He had probably watched the trading and sacrifice of animals numerous times.
But today was different. The hosannas of the previous day may have been calls for the king to bring political salvation; but, to Jesus, the religious system also needed saving. It made him angry to see the outer courts of the house of God, primarily a place for “prayer for all nations” (Isa. 56:7), turned into a dishonest currency exchange and noisy market–a “den of robbers” (Jer. 7:9-11). People argue about the appropriateness of Jesus, the preacher of peace, confronting the perpetrators of profane practices with physical aggression. People argue, too, about how a God of love can also be a God of judgment.
We cannot help reacting to this story. It challenges our stereotypes about Jesus and it certainly challenged the religious leaders of the day. Their fear of him and his influence over the common people was increased; thus, their quest to kill him became even more diligent. The crowd, who probably realized they were being abused by corrupt practices as they came to offer their sacrifices, continued to be amazed at his teaching. Can our worship, and the rituals that accompany it, sometimes be tainted by inappropriate practices and attitudes (Jas. 2:1-7)?
“Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the nations” (Rev. 15:3). Does God’s acting in justice and truth inspire or frighten you?
Mighty God, increase my faith that, by praying, I have an influence in the world out of all proportion to my place in it. Increase justice and peace, I pray.
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