Monday of Holy Week: Cover-ups cursed
Jesus Curses a Fig Tree and Clears the Temple Courts
Cursing of fig tree (Mark 11:12-14, Mt 21:18-22) and Cleansing Temple (Mt 21:1-11, Mk 11:15-25, Lk 19:45-48,) Additional Readings: Genesis 3:6-7 and Psalm 96:9
On Monday morning as Jesus and his disciples were heading back into Jerusalem, Jesus was thinking about the need to confront the thievery going on in the Temple. Then seeing a fig tree, Jesus was reminded of Adam seeking to hide behind leaves. The tree had no fruit or life to give – only a covering; hiding its barrenness. Adam’s covering with a fig leaf was just like Israel covering their nakedness with religious ritual. Their worship was no longer exposing the sin and the nakedness of theft. So, Jesus cursed that fig tree just as he was about to bring condemnation upon the scandalous business dealings. The worship that was to be about God was about making money and defrauding worshippers.
The Temple – called Herod’s Temple because it was an architectural monument of beauty to Herod – was a capstone to all the great public building projects that Herod had initiated. Psalms 96:9 says to worship God in the beauty of HIS splendor and holiness. But the worship space was a monument to man’s achievement. And the worship was actually engaged in ripping off the public. Israel was covering up, hiding behind the trappings of worship – but it was all a shame and a cover up. There was no true naked honest open-hearted worship
Just as Amos had declared for God: Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps (Amos 5:23), so Jesus was reiterating that he was fed up with their meaningless ritualistic traditions – judgement was about to fall.
Worship is to be about prayer and connecting with God. The Heart of Worship is about God.
In our worship, might we also stand accused of using our tradition, as a cover up to true worship – worship that is supposed to expose our sin and nakedness and lead to honest confession of our need for him and a call for mercy?
We often make going to worship about how we were greeted, how the singers and musicians sounded, and how good the sermon made us feel. We can easily be distracted from open honest communication with God by the fellowship of believers – which is important – but can actually hide our confession.
I wonder if this COVID-19 is a “whip” upon our traditions. It can be a wakeup call to just get back to the heart of worship – one on one communication with God. Worship with no coverups, no hiding no, false pretenses, no business as usual.
Perhaps this Holy Week, God is using this shut down to call us back to true worship – a heart of prayer. Otherwise he will come with a whip and a curse.
Afterall, he is the KING and every knee will bow before him.