Mark 11:15-19 – Jesus Cleanses the Temple

Christian MölkMark Leave a Comment

Mark 11:15

  1. The temple area was divided into different sections:
    1. The outer court where everyone could stay, including gentiles, non-Israelites.
    1. The court of the women was for all Israelites.
    1. The men’s courtyard was for men only. Gentiles and women were not allowed to stay there.
    1. The priests’ courtyard was for priests only.
  2. Malachi prophesies that the Lord will come to his temple, but that it will not be a pleasant experience, but rather a judgment on those who turn the tables on the stranger” (Mal 3:1-5).
  3. Instead of serving as a house of prayer for all peoples, the temple area had become a marketplace and a thoroughfare.
    1. For pilgrims coming to Jerusalem from afar, there was the possibility of buying sacrificial animals on the spot. But since they were not allowed to trade in Roman coins (they had pagan images on their coins), people were forced to exchange money at high exchange rates.
      1. This created a commercialization of people’s desire to meet God that upset Jesus.
      1. In the area where the gentiles (non-Israelites) were supposed to be able to pray to God, there was now a marketplace for sacrificial animals.
    1. To avoid going around the temple area, some people took a shortcut through the courtyard of the pagans. These stop Jesus because it prevents the temple area from being a place of prayer.

Mark 11:17

  1. Jesus quotes Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11.
    1. Jesus teaches the people that the temple in Jerusalem is meant to be a “place of prayer” and that “all nations” will have access to the temple.
  2. In the Old Testament, God chose Israel to show the rest of the world who he is through them. When the other nations heard about God’s greatness, they could come to the Temple in Jerusalem to know God.
    1. God made a promise to Abraham that all nations” would be blessed through him (Genesis 12:1-3).
    1. God told Israel that all the earth” belongs to God and that the people of Israel will serve as God’s priests (Exodus 19:5-6).
    1. Isaiah prophesied that all nations” would flock to the temple in Jerusalem to learn about God (Isaiah 2:1-3).
    1. When Solomon dedicated the Temple in Jerusalem, he prayed that God would hear all strangers” who come to Jerusalem to pray (1 Kings 8:41-43).
  3. Just as the green leaves of the fig tree could be seen from a distance and good fruit could be expected, so the temple in Jerusalem would serve as a place where all the peoples of the world could come to meet the God of Israel.
    1. Interpreting Jesus’ temple cleansing in the light of the framing of the fig story, we see that from a distance the temple looked like it was bearing good fruit, but as Jesus got closer he saw a marketplace instead of a place of prayer.
      1. Just as the fig tree had no future fruit, the temple will also cease to bear fruit.
      1. The temple was destroyed by the Romans in 77 AD and has not been rebuilt since.
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