Lent 2018: See the Lord's Salvation: Day 43

Monday: Jesus Cleanses the Temple


Today's Text: Mark 11:12-19, Isaiah 56:1-8

Scripture Reading: Mark 11:12-19, Isaiah 56:1-8

I have always wanted to see the Grand Canyon, run a marathon, eat vegetarian, and be the kind of woman who cleans and cooks on a regular, rotating schedule. I’m putting these things off until I’m less busy with children, and work, and hassling my husband about his beard. (It’s a full time job.) There is a reason why we all resolve to live our lives slightly differently every year, and there’s a reason none of us make all these grand, global changes all at once. It’s because we’re human.

Our lives are built in seasons. We all go through seasons of pain, growth, contentment, and right now, I think my family is in a season of noise. Is that a season? Goodness, there is simply so much volume right now. But I know it will pass, the children will eventually leave, and we will come to a quieter and lonelier season.

Twice in this very short passage from Mark, I noticed that Jesus is speaking and there is someone who hears Him. The first is in chapter 11 when He curses the fig tree, saying, “‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again!’ And his disciples heard it” (v. 14). The second follows just after He cleanses the temple, declaring that it has been turned into a den of thieves, and “the chief priests and the scribes heard it…” (v. 18).

An easy first response to this passage is to assume that Jesus is very grouchy with the fig tree and the folks running the temple, but obviously there’s more going on here. He is bringing judgment to Israel. The fig tree failed to bear fruit, and the leaders failed to protect the temple. In both cases, when Jesus speaks with pronouncement of judgment, someone hears it—first the disciples and then the chief priests and the scribes.

Jesus is not just proclaiming judgment; He is proclaiming final judgment. There is a season for repentance, and that season is now (Mark 1:15). Salvation is now at hand, and now is the time to repent. Jesus isn’t calling His disciples and the chief priests to plan on repenting, to resolve to repent later, when they are less busy or when they have more money or when the kids are older. He is calling them to repent now; we are not promised tomorrow.

When we hear judgment, there are only two responses. The disciples heard it. The chief priests heard it. They could either choose to follow Him or choose to reject Him. It’s so stark and shocking to look honestly at what Jesus is calling all of us to do: to walk in the way of life or to go the way of death.

It simplifies all the other seasons of life if I know that first and foremost, there are only two ways to respond when we hear Christ speaking: walk in the way of judgment or the way of repentance.

The good news is that Christ has come to clean out our thieving hearts, and make them hearts of prayer. The signs of the fig tree and the temple cleansing are both reminders that God is making a people for Himself, that He has brought salvation to us. He gathers His own to Himself in all seasons.


  • Peony Noirr


  • Teresa Ramsook

    Very nice. This message gives you a lot to think about

  • Miss Donna

    Wow. Thank you for the insight past the initial thought. That is enlightening, the Word speaks. Amen.

  • Jo Hegwood

    Love this!!!’

  • Leia Hardimon

    not later… not someday… not when this happens… but now. Turn NOW, do what He’s put on your heart NOW, cry out NOW… thank you for the beautiful reminder -

  • Jo Gistand

    Amen! Love this devotional! Lord I pray that you clean my heart out and help me to be wholly focused on you!

  • Kerry Terry

    A house of prayer. I like that God’s call on my/our life is simple – choose eternal life or choose death. Simple it is, and yes, as a weak and sinful human, sometimes a challenge. I am grateful for His mercy and forgiveness.

  • Monica Davis


  • Jennifer Parker

    Praying for you right now Joanne!

  • Jennifer Parker

    Beautiful, introspective devotional. I can feel God tugging on my heart to abandon all else and surrender myself totally to Him and his all encompassing, overwhelming love! Praise you Jesus! You have come to call us to you and to abandon the death we have created for ourselves. And no matter how many times I return to that pit, You always find me and lift me out! Help me to continue to choose Life!

  • Sherree Hunsberger

    Cleanse me heart O God!!! I loved this day! Honestly I’m really enjoying this LENT STUDY AND SEASON! Thank you

  • I am trying so hard to open my heart. I pray the same for my husband every day. Thank you for these refreshing, inspiring words and clarity.

  • Vanessa Sully

    Love this!

  • Mitzi White

    Praying God will change this country’s heart of stone to a heart of flesh. In Jesus redeeming name.

  • Laurie Crary

    I choose Jesus.

  • Molly Guldin

    Praying for god to lift this community up thru repentance!

  • Rosalie Piper

    I’m so thankful that God calls us to repentance, not perfection. Today that is what I needed to hear. Our choice is to walk in judgment or repentance.

  • Marlaena Guenther

    Agreed! Catie, thanks for your prayer!

  • Madison Sheafe

    Praying for you Joanne!

  • I’m really drawn to the parallels about the dried up tree and mountains in Isaiah. I can’t quite figure out what it all means in relation to what Jesus said though. It feels a bit like a puzzle! I suppose maybe that there is still hope for the dried up tree if we believe in the Lord.

    • Autumn

      Hello Elle, would love to know exactly what passage you are talking about in Isaiah?

  • Repentance is a daily journey before the Lord, for me. The first thing before going out the door is to have God open my heart’s eyes to what He needs to clean out; what do I need to strip down before Him. So thankful that He “is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth, maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin.” Exodus 34:5

  • I have always loved the fig tree scripture but in my earlier days I thought it quite harsh; if the fig tree wasn’t in season, why would He expect fruit from it? So I put it to reading and found that prior to producing figs, fig trees produce a small bitter fruit called taksh, this is what Jesus was looking for. If the tree doesn’t produce that fruit first it will not produce figs later, so He knew it was just taking up space and time, faking the world out that it was a Fig tree, when, was it really? It looked like a fig tree, wore the leaves of a fig tree, took water and soil like a fig tree but if it didn’t produce, was it? The judgement on the tree no longer felt harsh to me once I understand the full perspective. Take us for example, we are christians, we may talk like one, but do we act like one, do we produce fruit for the kingdom? Like the fig tree, are we just fooling the world and taking space? It’s so convicting. Prayerful that my walk produces fruit, that I share Jesus for genuine reasons, not for appearances or my own gain, that when I receive judgement, when Jesus comes looking for fruit, He will find it in abundance.

    • Susan

      Thank you for explaining this, very helpful

    • Amanda

      Wow! I, too, have always been confused about the fig tree part. Thank you for sharing that insight! Clears a lot of it up. I know there’s always a purpose and true spiritual meaning to what Jesus said; just takes time and help from others sometimes to truly wrap my head around it.

    • Jess

      Wow! Thank you for sharing this word and your perspective. This was powerful for me today.

    • Roxanne

      Thank you! I just finished my prayers and prayed that I would come to understand the fig tree.

    • Heather N


    • Pam

      Thank you! I never understood this passage before. And your analogy arrowed right to my heart.

    • Katie

      Amazing! This is truly a great explanation for understanding the fig tree scripture. Thank you!

    • Rene

      Thank you so much, I’ve been praying that this would make more sense to me this morning, and you helped make it as clear as day.

    • Susan

      This always kind of bothered me. I didn’t understand. Excellent information! Thanks, B!

    • Annika

      Wow, your response really convicted me. Thank you so much for taking the time to research about the fig tree – it’s made this passage so much more meaningful for me.

    • Kimberly

      Betsy, I just love your heart for the word and your diligence to dig deeper and search things out. I’ve missed seeing your comments. A few days ago when looking for your comments, I remembered that your family is in a season of transition and prayed for you all. May the Joy of the Lord be your strength as you walk through this valley of change. And I pray that the strength of the Lord would help you and your husband daily put on the full armor of God so that no fiery dart from the enemy could penetrate your shield of faith. Where ever the Lord is taking your family, you will be a blessing and a treasure to the believers there. PS: thank you for your post today. Your wisdom and insight is always a blessing to this SRT community!

      • ~ B ~

        Just getting back to reading this now and your words brought me to tears, Kimberly. Thank you for lifting my family up in prayer, for remembering our transition. Prayerful that we will have definitive answers and clear direction soon. You are too good to me and I am so grateful to be a part of such an encouraging community. Thank you friend. Love to you and yours. ~ Betsy

    • Deborah Craytor

      I had the same question. Thanks so much for researching an answer and sharing it with us!

    • Karen

      Thank you so much, B for doing this research and bringing so much clarity to my confusion regarding the fig tree passage. Jesus seemed so harsh. So much conviction for me in your explanation. Many, many times I look like the tree, act like the tree, etc., but deep inside the Lord knows my heart is not where it needs to be!

    • Mitzi White

      Well said.

    • ~ B ~

      I am glad to know I am not alone in my previous confusion and so happy that God was able to shed clarity and conviction on it for me and you all too!

    • Dorothy

      WOW!! Now that you add that knowledge of the fig tree and how at that point in the trees growth it should have had more than leaves it makes a lot more sense and is a lot clearer. Thank you B for sharing this wonderful and insightful information

    • Mary Osire

      Thank you for the clarification on the fig tree! I was so confused on this!

  • Sabrina Michelle


  • “It is so stark & shocking to look honestly at what Jesus is calling all of us to do: to walk in the way of life or to go the way of death.”
    So.Very.True! Shocking, yes, but can be so easily simplified if I will ask myself in every situation, ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ And then do it.

  • Hannah Tutton

    The sermon I listened to yesterday spoke on repenting now and not just deciding to “repent later” or “when I feel like it”. My prayer is that God will show me specifically where I am in need of repentance and how to change. I could definitely use some prayer as I learn.

    • Karen

      Praying for you today Hannah! God hears your heart and forgives you. His ways are not our ways, so you may not notice a big change at first, but little by little, if you continue to come before Him, he will change your heart and renew your soul.

  • Catie Mickletz

    My prayer today is that God would flip the tables that are set up in our hearts, even if it’s painful at first. We all have things we may have deceived ourselves into thinking are essential for our life and worship, but they are actually keeping us in bondage and hindering the way to Him. Clear the way, Lord, and make us open to you doing your cleansing work.

  • Jessica Terpstra

    Lord, make our hearts houses of prayer!

  • Wow! This hit my heart. I’m always scraping for the time to worship and read the Word. Scraping!! Why am I not seeking the kingdom first? Why do I let everything come first. I need to repent. Excellent thoughts to reflect on today. Thank you.

    • Nicholle

      Scraping could not have been a more appropriate word. Currently, I am also working on rearranging and prioritizing everyone and everything in my life. There is no time for squeezing God into my life. He needs to be first.

  • Clare Lafaele

    There is no guarantee of tomorrow …. am I ready ???
    ➕ = ❤️

  • Churchmouse

    The money changers occupied the space where the believing foreigners could enter the temple complex for worship. The Temple was designed for worship, not a business transaction. The fig tree existed to produce figs. A fig-less fig tree was worthless. A temple without worshippers was just another building. God’s temple had a specific purpose but that purpose had been subverted, the focus shifted and Jesus was not pleased. I was created for a specific purpose as well – to give and bring glory to God. I can lose my focus. I can become preoccupied with the ‘doing’ in my life and complacent with the ‘being.’ I was created to abide in Him, to be firmly adhered to the Vine – and then the fruit would come. Instead I try to force the fruit by my own ambition and strength. Jesus corrects me every time, telling me to clear out space in my busyness for Him because that is His order for doing life with Him. Seek first the kingdom and all the other things will come. Instead of striving, abide. From the abiding will come the fruit He wants me to bear. And instead of being anxious about whether I’m doing it right or enough, I will be at peace. Today I choose to abide. Tomorrow I will choose the same. And in due season, fruit will fall. Baskets. Bushels. For His glory. Amen.

    • Tara Condon

      Beautiful words. Thank you!

    • Brittany

      Love your insight, as always. Thank you for sharing!

    • Kathleen

      Amen! I feel the same way.

    • Deb Thompson

      I truly needed the reminder today to abide. Above all talents, above all gifts, above all else He has created me to bring Him glory- stop striving looking for ways to use these- just abide and wait. The fruit will come. My desire is to be used by God in a way that will bring Him glory. If I am abiding in Him and seeking to bring Him glory it’s the best way I can be used. He will gather me in His season- His time- His way.

    • Dorothy

      Churchmouse you have such a way with words and conveying a message that even a nonbeliever would profess Christ as her savior. Your point about abiding and that is the only thing is so right. My father died last June, he could convey his point about the Bible like you. He would always look for an opportunity to talk about God, Christ and the Holy Spirit when he could.

      • Charlee

        What a blessing your father was Dorothy. Your earthly father sharing his love for God, Christ and Holy Spirit with you and others. My father died 4 years ago and upon his death bed my Pastor spoke with him and then revealed to me that he was a “quiet believer.” He never ever shared his faith or love for the Almighty. I didn’t grow up with that precious gift. But, I have it now. I do take comfort that he was a believer but my heart aches that it wasn’t something he chose to share with me or teach me. One day I will see him again and it will be the first question I ask… Why?

  • Denise Powers Fabian

    I think this reading today should jolt us all…I know it did me. God’s judgment is quick and it is harsh…but justified. While a Believer, I ask the Lord to search my heart and thoughts and desires, forgive me of hidden sins, and give me a willing heart. God’s mercy is so undeserved yet priceless. If we do not realize the judgment of God, can we ever really embrace His mercy? A dear friend, a pastor, died last week of cancer. His funeral was yesterday. His desire for us was to continue to live our lives to passionately make Christ known to others. Lord, cleanse me from anything that impedes this in my life.

  • I think it’s important to consider who Jesus was speaking too- the religious leaders of his day and a fig tree (not a person!) although his disciples heard him. The Isaiah passage points out God’s intention for his temple, his house, to be for every nation. The religious leaders were preventing people from knowing God because they had made the outer court, the court of the gentiles, a place of commerce (and they were cheating people who were trying to buy their sacrifice to the Lord). When I look at this passage in this context, Jesus’ zeal stirs me up- his passion that people of every nation could come worship God freely. Our sermon yesterday was on conceit (from galatians 5:25-6:5. The Pharisees had traded worship of God for empty self-worship and gain. They were the gatekeepers to God, and they were preventing others from entering. So too, we as the church must not become conceited and prevent others from entering the kingdom because we have forgotten the basics of loving God and others. Repentance is a daily thing, to pray for the strength to see our pride, and to repent of it. Martin Luther had some quote like that.

  • Rebecca Leek

    Great devotional this morning. I do wonder if I am doing enough because I want to choose life with Jesus but how do I know I am? I think I have a repentant heart but how do I know it’s repentant enough? Should I tithe more? Do more charitable work? Disciple more? What if I’m not anywhere near where I should be? Or am I thinking about this all wrong? Because I know there is nothing we can do or not do to make God love us more or less than He already does. But if He loves us, warts and all, does that mean we all will have salvation with Him in heaven? Big questions today.

    • YaYa

      Rebecca, I don’t have any answers for you- but I do have the same questions. I’m about to pray for both of us. Right now.

    • Christina

      The gospel of Christ is that Jesus is the one and only Son of God, who came to earth and died to save us from our sins. As you already said, there is nothing that you can do to earn salvation. It is given. Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Do you love Him with all your heart? Pray for repentance. God will sanctify you to make you more like Him. The changes in your life will come from God, you can’t do it on your own. Good works come from faith in Christ, not the other way around. And while God loves everyone, warts and all, not everyone loves Him and follows Him. I pray that my answer is correct and helpful for you! Praying for you today!

      • Chris

        Again Wow!!! Love the insights— something new came to me also about the fig tree— there is no specific season for us as Christians to bear fruit! We are to be His witness AT ALL TIMES!

    • Misty Drake

      Rebecca- I think it’s more about the condition of our heart, the intent of our heart and actions and then our response to his conviction and call for repentance. If we are sensitive to His prompting of Holy Spirit that brings conviction, then our act of obedience would be to truly repent as He convicts and trust and accept His forgiveness because He is faithful to His Word. She said Jesus cursed the fig tree because it wasn’t beating fruit. If we abide in Him He will abide in us, giving us what we need in order to be more obedient through His Holy Spirit teaching, correcting and guiding us. We will beer fruit if we are abiding in Him, responding in obedience to His call of repentance and whatever action He may be leading us at the time! -Or at least that’s what I’ve been learning! Great scripture reading to begin the week.

    • April L

      I agree with what the second and third ladies have said. God cares about your heart first and foremost, the rest of it will come because He calls you to Him. I have a huge calling for serving and giving. God shows me how to serve Him and give of my time as well as money. If you seek Him with all your heart, He will come to you. I’m so glad you were brave enough to share your thoughts on here. May we be of encouragement to you.

    • KayLyn EspeFox

      You are right on, ladies!
      Nothing we do will ever be enough. But Jesus is enough!

    • Libby Kosciuszko

      Amy and Misty, what great insight! I too used to live by the Christian “to-do” list which always left me feeling like I was falling short. God worked on my heart and I began to realize that if my heart, mind and life are seeking Him, everything else just starts to fall into place. The problem with the checklist is that it becomes performance based and all about what I can do instead about what God can do. I pray God continues to use His Spirit to guide us all! So thankful for all of you godly women with such amazing faith!

    • Miranda Rector

      All of these responses are spot on! As a former Catholic, I have trouble reverting back to my to do list mentality when thinking about my relationship with Christ and then fall into guilt when I do not read my Bible or pray as much as I planned. I realize that as long as I am living my life for Jesus, working to make my heart a house of prayer for him, that I am saved by His grace alone through faith! How wonderful is that? This week I simply am dedicating myself doing this daily devotional and making sure that I praise Him and pray even before my feet hit the floor in the morning, thankful for His love and sacrifice.

    • Charity Parker

      My dad gave us an illustration years ago that had always stuck with me, and I think it might be a good perspective for your questions. Imagine there is a line drawn in the sand – on one side of that line is all our fleshly, selfish, sinful desires (our old self without Christ), and on the other side is Christ. It’s easy at this point to say, I’m saved and I know which side of the line I’m standing on, but the hard question is where is your focus? Do you find yourself looking at the line – maybe you’re trying to see how close you can get without crossing it, maybe your watching it because you are constantly worried about where the line is at – or are you focused on Christ? You see, as long as we are worried about the line, Christ is still in the background. It’s when you turn to face Him and work on walking closer and closer to Him that the line becomes the background because the closer you are to Him, the further you are from that line. God has called us to love Him and love others. The more we love God, the easier it is to follow His example in loving others, serving others, and contributing to His Kingdom. It’s not about how much. It’s about your focus and willingness to follow His lead and the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The world looks at how much, but God looks at the heart.

  • Claire Bills

    Love this fresh thought on Jesus encounter. It really is that simple. Today I choose to listen and respond. I choose life with Jesus with all the ups and downs that will bring. I choose to follow him and humble myself once more as his servant.

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