131. So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the Temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the Temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the Temple. Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’” -Mark 11:15-17
In this passage Jesus perfectly displayed “righteous anger.” Some things are not okay, and must be firmly addressed. What made Jesus so angry? The place where sacrifices were being sold and money was being changed was the Court of the Gentiles at the Temple. Only Jews could further than this as they made their way toward the place only Jewish priests could be. In other words, if there was a Gentile who had come to Jerusalem’s Temple wanting to know more about Yahweh and turn to Him in prayer, this was the place. In addition to many prayers for Jews, Solomon had prayed this when he dedicated the Temple – “Moreover, concerning a foreigner, who is not of Your people Israel, but has come from a far country for the sake of Your great name and Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm, when they come and pray in this Temple; then hear from Heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, that all peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You, as do Your people Israel” (2 Chronicles 6:32-33a). What upset Jesus the most that day was not the sale of resources that might help worshippers, but their callous indifference to the lost people in their midst. May the things we do at church draw the lost to Jesus, not hinder them from hearing about Him!
132. But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” -John 12:23-25
Jesus spoke here of His own death for sinners. When a seed gets put in the ground, it doesn’t look like much has happened. But in the fullness of time a harvest comes from the seed. Loving your own life is like taking the seed and putting it on a display shelf. Nothing of eternal significance will happen until the seed is planted in the ground. Jesus gave up His life to deal with our sin, but on the third day rose from the dead, the firstfruits of all believers who will one day also rise! What Jesus did didn’t make sense at the time, but now is understood to be the moment eternity changed for all who trust in Him. We too are called to “lay our lives down.” In other words, believers are called to die to self, to plant ourselves in hard places we wouldn’t have otherwise, sometimes for decades, trusting God to bring the harvest in His due time! Not only will we have eternal life, but so will all those who came to Christ because we didn’t keep the seed to ourselves!
133. “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.” -John 12:26
What beautiful words – “Where I am, My servant will be also.” I hope that’s the theme of your life. I hope that when you see God at work, you will join Him in what He is doing!” A servant of Jesus is a follower of Jesus, and a follower of Jesus is a servant of Jesus. They do the things Jesus would do if He was physically here. He is physically here through the Body of Christ, His Church. The word for serve in the Greek language is the word we get Deacon from. If you are a Deacon, let these words particularly challenge you – “If anyone deacons Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My deacon will be also!”
134. “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him – the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.” -John 12:48 Context: John 12:42-50
People often wonder what the unpardonable sin is. It is listed here: unbelief that rejects Jesus and His authoritative words. Despite the Holy Spirit’s work to bring a sinner to humbly turn from their sin to Christ, they refuse to receive Jesus. Many of the Pharisees had secretly believed in Him but were so afraid of how their ‘friends’ would react that they didn’t publicly acknowledge Christ. A ‘faith’ that won’t acknowledge Christ before others isn’t really worth much at all, though. In Matthew 10 Jesus said you had to acknowledge Him before men to be acknowledged by Him before the Heavenly Father. It is words like that and others Jesus spoke that will testify against us on judgment day if we don’t act on what Jesus said now!
135. So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” -Mark 11:22-24
Earlier Jesus said that some types of demons only come out by fasting and prayer. By referring to the mountain being cast into the sea Jesus is referring to the fact that when believers pray in faith they can see the impossible happen. Not that they can do it, but that nothing is impossible with the God who they are praying to. If God wills it, He can make impossible happen! Believers need to leave the impossible situations in their lives with God in prayer. He will answer ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ or ‘not yet’ for our good and His glory. And whenever He says ‘no,’ it will be for His greater ‘yes.’ Knowing this brings us great confidence as we pray! Be careful though not to view these verses as a ’genie in a bottle’ type promise. Believers are not promised they or their loved ones won’t have struggles and hardships and sufferings in this life. Believers are not promised that their own bad decisions or the bad decisions of others won’t have consequences. Believers are not promised that God will give them what they want if it doesn’t square with what He knows they need. Believers are promised that God’s peace and presence will guard the one who presents their requests to Him (Philippians 4:6-7). Have faith in God!