Am I the only one who can relate to the following scenario?
It’s been a long week but you have planned for a gathering in your home on Saturday. It’s now Friday evening and you still need to go to the store to get all the food for the meal as well as get home and clean. So you quickly go through the store picking up all the ingredients you need and then rush home to start cleaning. But as soon as you walk in the door, chaos hits (you can imagine your own chaos) and unfortunately the cleaning never happens. So you decide to get up a little earlier on Saturday morning to do the ‘cheat’ cleaning – you know running the vacuum so you have the vacuum marks, cram whatever you can in drawers and closets,hang clean towels in the bathroom, turn your diffuser on with a fresh clean smelling essential oil or turn on your wax warmer, then close all the doors. You look around with some satisfaction because it appears clean and no one will ever know the difference. But…you know behind all the closed doors there is a different story. Being clean on the surface does not mean it’s clean all the way through!
On the Monday of Holy Week (the week leading up to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ) we see Jesus in two different scenes that are similar to the one I described above.
Mark 11: 12 – 17
12 On the next day, when they had left Bethany, He became hungry. 13 Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening.
15 Then they *came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves; 16 and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple. 17 And He began to teach and say 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 robbers’ den.”
The next day refers to the day after Palm Sunday, the day after Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey while the people cried out Hosanna. As he approached Jerusalem again on Monday morning, Jesus saw a fig tree with leaves in the distance. If a fig tree has leaves then it should have fruit ready to eat. But in this case it didn’t – it appeared to be ready but upon further inspection it was not! On the surface, it looked like a perfectly good fig tree, but it had no fruit – it was useless.
Then this passage goes right into describing what happens when Jesus enters the temple. Keep in mind, the temple was to be a sacred place of worship and it was during the season of Passover when the people would be preparing for the priest to make a sacrificial offering on their behalf. This was supposed to be a special time for the people and of all places, the temple should have been a holy place and a clean place. But that is not what Jesus found upon entering the temple. He found money changers – people who were cheating those coming to purchase animals for their offerings. They had made the place that was to be a house of prayer dirty!
What does this have to do with us? In 1 Corinthians 6, we read about how the Holy Spirit dwells in us – we are His temple. (19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.) And in John 15, Jesus tells us we bear fruit when we are abiding in Him (5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up;)
Are you starting to see the connection? As His temple we are to be clean and bear sweet fruit. The temple of our hearts is to be full of prayer, love, and His Word which will yield the fruit of worship, obedience, kindness, and joy – just to name a few. However, an unclean temple will always produce dry, worthless and shriveled fruit.
Therefore, we need to ask ourselves, is our temple truly clean – not just a surface level clean, but clean all the way to the core. When Jesus looks in on His temple and opens every door is He pleased? Or does He need to come in and throw out the dirt?
How clean is your temple? What fruit are you bearing?