Faith in God

Mark 11

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Chapter 11 of Mark is so saturated in beautiful parables and stories that it can be difficult to draw one single lesson from each separate part. The chapter contains Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the colt, him cursing a fig tree, driving heretics out of the temple, and providing a puzzling dilemma to those who wish to destroy him. From this, however, we’ll try to draw something coherent.

The story begins with Jesus and the disciples entering the city of Jerusalem. Like the confusing things Jesus asked the disciples to do that we were discussing yesterday, He asks several of the disciples to go into town and mysteriously grab a tied-up colt. What could the meaning of this possibly be? Why would Jesus have them specifically say that the Lord needs it, and it will be back shortly? My best assumption is that this was partially meant to draw the attention of the townspeople that the Christ was coming. Additionally, simply because he called for it to happen, it was so. This is a very similar archetype to what Jesus does with a fig tree the next morning. But just keep in mind, Jesus said for it to be so, and it was.

The next morning “Jesus was hungry” (Mark 11:12) and went to find figs on a fig tree he had seen. As it wasn’t the season for the fruit to bear, there were no figs. Because of this, Jesus curses the tree itself: “[May] no one ever eat fruit from you again.” Mark 11:14. This made me audibly laugh out loud when I read it because it seemed so out of place and random for Jesus to get mad that he was hungry and then curse a tree. It is not explained at first but keep this in the back of your mind for later; it’s foreshadowing.

Jesus then entered the temple and saw that people were committing heathenish and blasphemous acts in the temple of God. “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. 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.’” Mark 11:15-17. This is one of the few instances that makes me believe that anger as an emotion is not a sin, but unrightfully acting upon your anger trespasses into the bounds of sin. It has been referenced as ‘righteous anger.’ In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes “In your anger do not sin.” Ephesians 4:26. In this circumstance, Jesus became rightfully angry at the desecration of his Father’s home and rightfully drove the sinners out who were blaspheming the house of God.

After doing this, as they were leaving the city, they saw that the fig tree Jesus had cursed the day before had wilted and effectively died. They were astonished by this, and Jesus replied, “Have faith in God, I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:22-24. I’m sure it would be hard to believe at first when Jesus cursed the tree that anything would happen so suddenly, but because Jesus said so in total belief and had patience, the tree wilted as He commanded. When you are praying for something that God would ordain to happen, do you believe in your heart without doubt that it will be given to you? If not, you have not the faith that is required for any reward to be manifested. Have faith that God wants the best for you and be ready to see the answer that God gives you.

Just as Jesus had faith in what he ordered and committed himself to an effort to do what is right (protect the house of God), he was rewarded. It is our goal to emulate this pattern of faith, prayer, and work to glorify God in the belief that He will reward us for our good efforts.

-Mason Kiel

Application Questions

  1. As Jesus entered Jerusalem what did the people expect? The disciples? Jesus? Have you ever misunderstood God’s plan or Jesus’ purpose? What were you focusing on? What is Jesus focused on?
  2. Have you ever been angry enough about sin and unrighteousness to do something about it? Did you sin while doing it? How do we ensure that in our anger we do not sin?
  3. Not having enough faith is indeed one reason your prayers may not be answered. How would you go about boosting your faith? What are other Biblical reasons for prayer not being answered?

The Fruitless Fig Tree

Mark 11

Mark 11 22

In Mark 11:12-14 we see Jesus appear to get upset and curse a fig tree because he was hungry and there was no fruit on it.

“On the next day, when they had left Bethany, He became hungry. Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening.” Mark 11:12-14

About a month ago, when our family was reading together, we came across this passage. My kids thought it was funny that Jesus was hungry and looking for food. It tickled them that he got “hangry” and cursed the fig tree because there wasn’t any food to be had. But this is a misunderstanding. Notice that the Scripture says there were leaves. Usually when a fig tree has leaves, it also has fruit.  Jesus saw the fig tree from a distance and it looked like it was flourishing. It looked as though it should have fruit. Upon closer inspection, it did not. Jesus found this situation worthy of cursing.

Later, in 11:20-21 Peter mentions to Jesus that the fig tree he cursed is withered (dead). Jesus’ response is interesting. He says, “Have faith in God.” He tells him that if you believe God can do amazing things through you, without doubting, He will! There will be good fruit. And what does this mean for us? We need to be careful about how we are presenting ourselves. Do I look promising? Do I look like a tree that’s healthy with lots of foliage, but in reality I’m not bearing any fruit? If so, I need to understand that this won’t be enough. Jesus finds this worthy of cursing and death. May we all be faithful, flourishing, and bearing fruit for our Father.

-Melissa New

What are You Producing?

Matthew 21

matthew 21 19

After Jesus had cleared the Temple of the merchants who were selling things in his Father’s house, Jesus approached a fig tree because he was hungry. Unfortunately for Jesus, the fig tree didn’t have any figs on it. At that moment, Jesus spoke to the tree and it completely withered up. His disciples were amazed by this, and were confused why this had happened. I understand the disciples’ confusion because it took me a long time to figure out why this story was in the Bible. What in the world is this talking about? Why would Jesus choose to wither a tree?

 

After much study, I found that this was a parable of Jesus, although one that was lived out. God’s people that were doing terrible things in God’s Temple were the same as this fig tree; they were not producing any fruit. Because the tree didn’t produce any fruit, Jesus rejected it and allowed it to crumble. The message could not be more clear: if God’s people aren’t producing good fruit, they will crumble and wither.

 

Jesus talked about “bearing good fruit” many different times, but I want to discuss just two. In John 15, Jesus said that we cannot bear fruit without living in communion with him. You cannot produce anything of substance if Jesus isn’t part of your daily life. Just as a branch cannot produce fruit without being attached to the trunk, we cannot produce anything if we are not constantly attached to Jesus.

 

In Matthew 7:15-20, Jesus says that we will know people by the fruit that they produce, whether good or bad. If we see an apple on a tree, we know that it is an apple tree; if we see a pear, we know that it is a pear tree. In the same way, if we see good fruit being produced, we know that person comes from Jesus. On the other hand, if bad fruit is being produced, we know that that person is from somewhere else.

 

So the question for you today is this: “What are you producing?”

Are you producing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), or are you producing the same thing as all the sinners in this world? If you aren’t producing good fruit, it is time to reconnect with the Lord of your life, Jesus Christ. We cannot do it without him.

 

-Talon Paul

Bearing Fruit

Matt 21 43

Matthew 21

After Jesus radically cleansed the Jerusalem Temple by driving out the thieves that were there, he came to a fig tree because he was hungry. Unfortunately, the fig tree was not producing any figs at this point in time. In a bizarre twist in the story, Jesus condemns the barren tree and it begins to wither. What is even more confusing about this story is that Jesus never explains it.

This is what most people today believe happened with this tree: Jesus was condemning the current Jerusalem for producing the fruit of righteousness that God desired. The story has basically nothing to do with the tree itself; it was a prophetic condemnation on Israel for not doing what God wanted them to do. They were simply going through the motions of their religious practice, and lacked what they truly needed: a love for their God, and a love for the people around them.

We do not want to be condemned by Jesus for not “bearing fruit”. We need to make sure that we are producing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) in our lives, and “being Jesus” to the rest of the world. We need to act as faithful stewards of the grace that has been given to us. We need to be “good trees”, producing fruit that God would be proud of.

-Talon Paul

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