Monday, May 25, 2015


Sunday, May 24, 2015, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 49

(This is a series of sermonettes on The Gospel According To Mark. )

(Ed Cooper is an ordained Elder and minister in the Christian Church/Churches of Christ which are a part of the Restoration Movement started in Appalachia in the early 1800’s.  Ed started preaching as a teenager in the village churches around Mashoko Mission, Zimbabwe, Africa when he was there with his parents in the early 1960’s.)

SCRIPTURE for Today: Mark 11:1-19 King James Version (KJV)
11 And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples,
2 And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him.
3 And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither.
4 And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him.
5 And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt?
6 And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded: and they let them go.
7 And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him.
8 And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way.
9 And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord:
10 Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.
11 And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve.
12 And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry:
13 And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.
14 And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.
15 And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves;
16 And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.
17 And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.
18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine.
19 And when even was come, he went out of the city.

SERMON for Today:
The triumphal entry takes place at the beginning of Passover week, which recalls the Jewish people’s liberation from Egyptian slavery. The people now anticipate the messianic liberation from Rome’s oppression. The claims of the disciples are ultimately true, but it will not be Rome that is defeated now but Satan, sin, and death. All enemies of righteousness will one day see the authority of the Messiah. This is the only time in Mark where there is no evident tension between Jesus’ messianic identity, the messianic expectations of his disciples, and those of the people. Jesus tolerates this brief period of celebration in fulfillment of prophecy, but with the certainty that nothing will obstruct His divinely ordained death.

Jesus came into Jerusalem a hero and he will leave a victor over Satan, sin and death, but before He does he will undergo much the same fate as the fig tree in our Scripture lesson.  He will be cursed by His own people.

Again, we see what Jesus thinks of people with money taking advantage of those without as much. Tables were set up to enable pilgrims to change their respective currencies into coins for the annual temple tax as well as to purchase pigeons, lambs, oil, salt, etc., for various sin and thanksgiving sacrifices . The money making activity turns the house of prayer into a “den of thieves.” Gentiles in particular were hindered by the temple commerce in the outer court. The goal of Jesus’ action was to restore the temple to its function to serve as a house of prayer for all the nations.

The way in which Mark organizes his material in these verses (fig tree/cleansing of temple/ cursing of the fig tree) suggests a connection between the cleansing of the temple and the cursing of the fig tree. Since the fruit of the fig tree begins to appear about the same time as the leaves (or a little after), the appearance of leaves in full bloom should have indicated that fruit (in the form of green figs) was already growing. Jesus’ actions here have symbolic importance, signifying the hypocrisy of all who have the appearance that they are bearing fruit, but in fact are not.

We must be careful that we are doing and not just having the appearance of doing.  Our actions on behalf of our Lord must produce fruit and not for ourselves, but produce results for the Kingdom of God.  

PRAYER for Today: Matthew 6:9-13 King James Version (KJV)
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

© Ed Cooper, May 24, 2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
   All rights reserved

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