Yesterday, I was talking about some of the details we see in Mark that we don’t see in the other Gospels. In all four of the Gospels, Jesus cleanses the temple of those selling animals in it for sacrifice. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, this event happens after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem riding a colt. However, in the Gospel of Mark, we see something a little different from Matthew and Luke before the cleansing of the temple.

Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

Mark 11:11 (NIV)

Jesus did nothing the first time he saw what was going on in the temple. Why? If it was such a big deal that people were buying and selling there why wait until the next day?

Mark 11:11 tells us, “it was already late,” so Jesus went out to Bethany. I think we could go with that and we would be fine. However, I think there’s something more we can learn from this, and we see it in the incident with the fig tree.

The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.

Mark 11:12-14 (NIV)

At this time of the year, the fig tree shouldn’t have had any leaves or fruit on it. We read that it wasn’t the season for figs. However, the problem with the fig tree goes further than having leaves out of season. The fruit on fig trees comes out before the leaves. This is why Jesus thought there would be fruit on the tree when he saw it in the distance. So, when He gets to the fig tree, and there’s no fruit, he curses it because it’s not only out of season, it’s not in sync with how it’s supposed to grow.

After leaving the fig tree behind, they go into Jerusalem.

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts.

Mark 11:15-16 (NIV)

Let’s take a look at the context of Mark up to the point where Jesus first entered the temple in Mark 11:11.

Crowds of people were shouting “Hosanna” and celebrating Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. It was a joyous occasion, and the people were happy. Did it make sense to spoil the occasion by clearing the temple? Obviously not, since Jesus didn’t clear it when he first saw it. He, as well as the disciples with him, would have also been tired from their journey.

We are told that it was also late. This means that there wouldn’t have been as many people there as there would be in the morning. With more people around, there would be a greater number of people to witness Jesus’ teaching.

So far, we have three reasons.

  1. It was a joyous occasion after the entry into Jerusalem.
  2. They were tired after their journey.
  3. Few people around means fewer people to learn from the incident and subsequent teaching.

In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, there are many ways we could envision Jesus clearing the temple. He could be angry, stern, etc. I don’t, for a second, see Him walking around with a smile on his face while he did it. The Gospel of John gives us an indication of what it might have looked like.

So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

John 2:15-17 (NIV)

“Zeal for your house will consume me.” Here’s a video clip and one director’s impression of what this might have looked like from John.

If this is how Jesus responded after waiting overnight, as Mark tells it, can you imagine how it would have been if he had responded immediately? This tells me there is a time for righteous anger and acting upon it. Ecclesiastes reminds us:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)

A time to uproot, tear down, build, laugh, dance, scatter stones, tear, mend, be silent, speak, love, hate, war, and a time for peace (cf. Ecclesiastes 3:2-8).

Therefore, the fourth, and most important thing, we can learn from Jesus not clearing the temple the first time is this:

  1. It wasn’t the right time.

Often, in our walk with the Lord, we’re antsy about the time. We either want something to happen right now, or we want something to stop happening right now. We find it hard to wait on the Lord, whose timing is perfect.

Sometimes, we might witness things happening that aren’t right, and we might feel the need to jump in and say something. We assure ourselves that we are on the Lord’s side and we’re not wrong in our thinking. However, we should ask ourselves, is this the right time? This is something we should always ask the Lord before we jump into anything if we haven’t prayed and thought about it. Is this the right time, Lord?

Do you know God? God knows you, and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart, and I receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.