15 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.” 18 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.
20 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21 And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” 22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
A few thoughts for meditation:
1) The cleansing of the temple offers an important glimpse into the mind of Jesus. The priests had decided to open up an animal market in the temple precincts in order to profit from the sacrifices. Instead of bringing their own animals for sacrifice, you could buy one at the temple and then go make your sacrifice. We know from other passages that the priests likely opened this market in the outer courtyard of the temple, which was called the court of the Gentiles. It was the place God provided for Gentiles to come and worship. So Jesus was angry that the Gentiles has been shoved out of the temple in order for the priests to make a profit. It was suppose to be a “house of prayer for all the nations” not a business to exploit others. The priests had lost their missionary mindset due to their greed.
2) Jesus then offered a teaching on prayer to his disciples. First, they must pray in faith. They must believe that God will hear and answer prayer. He used the metaphor of moving mountains to show the divine power available in prayer. What seems impossible for man is possible with God through prayer. Second, you must “forgive”. It might seem odd that forgiveness is tied to prayer here. But what is more unbelieving than refusing to forgive someone? If God can forgive you all your sins, how can you not forgive others? Forgiveness means surrendering the right of punishment to God and trusting him to address the wrongs done against you. So forgiveness is an act of faith, and part of the mindset we have in approaching God in our prayers. In our prayers, we are called to follow the character ad priorities of God himself as his children.