12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 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. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it. 15 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, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” 18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. 19 When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city. (Mark 11:12-19)
Theme: If not You, then Who?
Yesterday we examined the significance of Jesus declaring His identity during the triumphal entry. Today we will consider Jesus’ commitment to integrity. The Latin root of integrity is integer, meaning whole or complete and not divided. When our thoughts and actions are entirely consistent with our God-given purpose and identity we are living lives of integrity. Of course, Jesus epitomizes integrity, and Mark chapter 11 records two encounters that demonstrate the priority Jesus places on integrity.
In the first encounter, Jesus sees a fig tree with the kind of foliage that promised fruit even though it was not the season for figs. On close inspection, the tree didn’t live up to what the foliage promised. There were no figs and Jesus cursed the tree. In the second encounter, Jesus shows his displeasure with people in the temple who were distorting the purpose of God’s house and the purpose of God’s people. I find Jesus’ decision to confront the lack of integrity on the part of the people in the temple particularly interesting. Jesus had just experienced the adulation of the crowds shouting Hosanna. He could have just played it safe and not upset the apple cart. Many leaders would have been focused on maintaining a positive image (what do the polls say?). Jesus was focused on the harmony of life with God’s purpose and identity. He was focused on integrity. How about us? Are we more concerned about leaves (appearance) than fruit? Do we distort God’s purpose or abandon our identity for personal gain like participants in a “den of robbers”?
Please prayerfully read the passage above and answer the question below.
What are your reflections on Jesus’ commitment to integrity?
March 30, 2021 at 5:44 am
I’m not surprised by Jesus’s commitment to integrity. If He had overlooked the wrongs He saw because He wanted His “approval rate” to stay high, then He wouldn’t be Jesus.
Jesus’s commitment to integrity is one we should adopt. Sometimes we put ourselves in compromising situations and then try to make a decision on what to do while we’re in the situation. As Christians I think we should already have made a decision that we won’t compromise when it comes to our morals, values, and integrity, no matter what. Then, when a compromising situation arises, there’s no reason for rash decisions that we might regret. We would already know “where we stand”, and do what’s right and pleasing in God’s sight, even if we lose popularity.
March 30, 2021 at 8:52 pm
My reflections on Jesus’ commitment to integrity is that he always prioritizes it over everything. This reminds me of 1 Samuel 16:17, where people look at the outer appearance but God looks at the heart. As people we can hide many things but God knows all and sees all.
Are we making decisions and approaching things by putting God first and with a Godly love and perspective? Are we truly loving our neighbors as ourself? These are things Jesus prioritized and are what we should strive to do.
An example in the Bible is Mark 12:41-44, ‘The Widows Offering.’ She only put in 2 copper coins for offering, which is a significantly smaller amount than others had put in but it was all she had, while others gave a ‘share’ of their offering.
What brings me so much comfort is that just like widow, Jesus sees all we do and knows our heart, it does not matter on the amount we give, what others may think or perceive but we should delight that our Father is our witness and the only one we need. No one needs to see our deeds or good works, our reward is from him!
In my opinion ultimately if our identity is in Christ, as discussed by us yesterday, then approaching things with integrity should come naturally. Though we have to think and act on situations, cognitively, Jesus lives and dwells in our bones and we should fight to not let anything interfere with this, family.
March 30, 2021 at 9:04 pm
As someone who doesn’t like conflict, it takes a lot for me to embrace the “upsetting the cart” mentality when it means that something will cause discomfort. However, Jesus is clear on His standards and what is acceptable to Him. He does not compromise. To truly have “integrity” you need to have an aspect of courage (and even faith in what you live for) in order to be unwavering in your standards, even if it is counter-cultural.
In the example of Jesus commanding the fig tree to no longer bear fruit, it’s clear that when something does not fulfill its purpose/intent that it is rendered obsolete. Continuing to not stand firm in God’s intent leaves us at risk for being “obsolete” as well. If we are not bearing fruit by God’s standards, then we are, in reality, fruitless.
March 30, 2021 at 10:42 pm
I expect that Jesus would have all the courage to upset whatever he had to as he is Jesus.
The fruit tree story was always confusing to me but Natalie,s explanation helped me understand.
I am not Jesus but have stood up and gotten into serious problems for standing up for what is right.
Sometimes I think I should not have risked all for it but integrity is very prominent in m life.