Where can we find peace when we're surrounded by corruption?

finding peace gospel of mark lordship of jesus

Not long ago, my uncle requested help cleaning up and doing some planting around the gravesites of some of our deceased relatives.  The cemetery they’re buried at is a couple of hours north of where I live, and about an hour south of where my sisters live, but we all picked a day to meet up and work with my uncle on the gravesites.  It was a nice day filled with reminiscing.  We even grabbed lunch together and had some ice cream at an ice cream stand my grandfather used to take us all to.

After lunch, my uncle commented, “I don’t know if you guys are feeling nostalgic, but I’d advise against visiting the old neighborhood.  It’s becoming a dangerous place to go.”  He went on to share the details of the criminal activity that has been taking place there including the murder of a neighbor we used to talk to regularly.  It’s also an area that is becoming known for drug activity and robbery. 

On my way home, I passed by a former church building that had a relatively new sign in front of it.  It isn’t a place where Christians gather for worship any longer.  Now it’s a business centered around providing rather unwholesome forms of entertainment.  I couldn’t help but wonder what the former church members must have thought about that development.  It’s sad to see a community that was thriving in years past go through such a steep decline, but this isn’t the first time in history this has happened.

This makes me wonder what Jesus thought as He entered Jerusalem in the days prior to His crucifixion.  Mark 11, a passage that is often described as Christ’s “Triumphal Entry,” tells us some of the details of what He saw and experienced as He arrived in the city at the start of Passover week.

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’”  (Mark 11:1-3)

Has the Lord ever asked you to do something that didn’t immediately make sense, but only became clear after you actually did it?  There are many moments in my life that I can point to when the Lord directed me to say or do something even though I didn’t fully understand why.  I suppose that’s often what we should expect to experience in this world as we walk by faith.  True faith frequently requires obedience to the Lord’s leading even before every detail or outcome is spelled out for us.

Two of Christ’s disciples were given a quick lesson in exercising this kind of faith when they were asked to go into the village, find a colt, untie it, and bring it back.  I’m sure they wondered if the colt would be difficult to find or if they might be accused of stealing it.  With this in mind, Jesus told them how to answer if anyone questioned what they were doing.  They were to simply state that, “The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.”

And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go.  (Mark 11:4-6)

The disciples did as they were instructed and they said what they were told to say.  When they were questioned by people standing near the colt, the message from Jesus that they conveyed was enough to satisfy them.  The disciples were permitted to bring the colt to Jesus.

And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”  (Mark 11:7-10)

As Jesus sat on this colt, and the people began spreading cloaks and branches on the road for him to travel over, a scene was depicted that had been seen in Israel before (2 Kings 9:13).  This was a way to acknowledge a new king and recognize his authority.  They even called out, “Hosanna!,” which means “Please save!”  Jesus was allowing the people to acknowledge that He was indeed the one who would reign on King David’s throne.  Jesus was the Messiah the people had been waiting for, and they were right to acknowledge Him this way.  This was also the fulfillment of the prophecy given in Zechariah 9:9 that the Messiah would come to the people riding on a colt.

And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.  (Mark 11:11)

Jerusalem was such a spiritual mess at the time Jesus came to them.  Their condition reminds me much of the dire conditions we see present in our world today as well.  Luke’s gospel even tells us that the spiritual depravity of the city grieved Jesus’ heart.  “And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace!”  (Luke 19:41-42)

Jesus offered them true peace through faith in Him.  He offers that same peace to us today.  Our hearts are searching for peace in this world.  We look for it from our leaders, our relationships, our circumstances, and our possessions.  But lasting peace cannot be obtained from anything that can be taken away.  Lasting peace can only be found through union with our eternal Savior, Jesus Christ.

It had to be hard to see what Jesus was seeing in the city.  On one hand, you had people honoring Him as the Messiah.  On the other hand, you had the people of religious influence cursing Him in their hearts and looking for any opportunity they could find to justify putting Him to death.  Jesus knew this was taking place, and He gave the leaders a new reason to foster their ongoing resentment toward Him by confronting their sin at the temple.

And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”(Mark 11:15-17)

Jesus experienced righteous indignation over what He saw taking place in the temple.  As a convenience for people who traveled to Jerusalem from distant places so they could celebrate the Passover in the city, certain items were made available for sale, and currency stations were put in place to exchange their currencies for the local currency.  Pigeons, lambs, oil, salt, and various items were presented for purchase, but what probably began as a convenience had turned into a fund-raising scheme. 

Fair exchange rates on currency and fair prices for pilgrims were abandoned, and the temple area was turned into a marketplace that benefitted the priests and scribes.  The people were being robbed financially, but even worse, they were being robbed spiritually.  The temple was meant to be a place of prayer, not a market for commerce.  So Jesus physically drove out those who were using the temple for dishonest monetary purposes.

And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. 19 And when evening came they went out of the city.  (Mark 11:18-19)

Jesus took decisive action to purify the temple area and remove the wickedness that was taking place.  He knew that what He was doing was going to be spoken against.  He knew there would be social consequences for this decision, but He did it anyway because it was the right thing to do.

There are many lessons for us in Christ’s activity, but one lesson I take from this passage is the fact that the Lord wants His people to walk in holiness, and sometimes we may need to take drastic and decisive action in our lives to root out the corruption we’ve been gradually allowing to “set up shop” and take root.  We may pay a social consequence for doing so, but Jesus desires purity within His temple.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.  (1 Cor. 6:19-20)

Through faith in Jesus, our body has been made a temple of the Holy Spirit.  He lives within us.  Our redemption and freedom from sin was paid for with the shed blood of Jesus.  We don’t belong to ourselves.  We are His, and we’re called to glorify God in our bodies as we await the day when we will one day be glorified in Christ’s presence forever.

In the meantime, Scripture reveals to us that all forms of wickedness will attempt to take root within us.  Earlier in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul tells us to be on guard against some of these sinful inclinations.  These are the things that mastered us before we came to know Jesus, and they desire to master us again.  Paul calls them out by name.  He mentions issues like sexual immorality, idolatry, adultery, homosexuality, theft, greed, drunkenness, reviling, and swindling. 

How ironic it is to realize that in one breath we can be calling out “Hosanna!  Please save us!” to Jesus, then in the next breath jumping right back into the temptations of the flesh He was crucified to save us from.

What are you allowing to set up shop in your life?  You are a temple of the Holy Spirit and the corrupting desires of this world have no rightful place in God’s temple.  If it’s time to start turning over tables so as to stop giving the devil a foothold in your life any longer, let me encourage you to do so.  Flush the drugs down the toilet.  Pour the intoxicants down the drain.  Cancel the subscriptions.  Filter the internet.  Keep your feet away from the casino.

Jesus desires to be the Lord of every aspect of your life.  He loves you.  He gave Himself for you.  He has no desire to see you welcoming anything into your thinking, living, or doing that aims to destroy you.  Don’t grieve the heart of your Savior like the people of Jerusalem did.  Walk in the newness of life that can only be found through a living and abiding trust in Jesus.

© John Stange, 2024


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