Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mark 11:20-26 Jesus Returns to the Fig Tree

20 Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. 21 And Peter, remembering, said to Him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.” 22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. 23For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. 25 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. 26 “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

Previously Jesus had cursed the fig tree on His way into Jerusalem when seeing it from afar and having leaves He thought there might be some fruit (i.e. figs) on it. However after approaching it, it became apparent that it did not have any, for it was not the season for figs. And with that Jesus said to it …“Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.” Mark 11:14
Now for us this became a sort of symbol of Jesus’ visiting Jerusalem and specifically the Temple as the Messiah looking for the fruits of God within its midst, but not finding any. And so the lesson that we drew was that we too must likewise be ready for Jesus Christ’s coming, which can be at any time. Not just “ready” on Sunday morning when we are in church, but at any time living our lives in expectation of Jesus Christ’s return as He warns us all: “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Please read Matt. 24:36-44, 45-51). For Jesus’ second coming will be both for His church, which the Scriptures call His bride, as well as for the judgment of the unrepentant and unbelieving. Therefore the Scriptures warn: “…it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” Heb. 9:27 A judgment which will be for the rewarding of those who put their faith in Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead for their sins remission, as well as a “rewarding” for those who did not repent and believe in Him. These will find an eternity of separation from God for their rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ as well as a punishment for the sinful things they have done here in their flesh (2 Thess. 1:10; Rev. 20:11-15).

Now in stating that, it’s not that God will not pardon people’s sins, God is abundant in mercy and fully willing to pardon even the most heinous of sins and sinners. However if someone refuses His grace, that is His offer to freely forgive and restore them to Himself by faith in His Son, then that person will stand alone on the Day of Judgment. Are you ready to face the Lord Jesus Christ whom God has appointed Judge of all things? The Bible says there is but one way to be prepared for that day; repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). Therefore the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son suffered and died on the cross as the finial and complete sacrifice for all our sins (Heb. 10:14) so that we can receive new and everlasting life when we believe in Him (John 3:16). And thus we can be prepared for the judgment to come, on the unrepentant and unbelieving, having our souls, indeed our whole persons, purified by the Lord Jesus Christ’s Person whose blood washes away all our sins, while He sanctifies us by God’s Word and His indwelling Holy Spirit. Who through His regenerating work in our lives progressively transforms our inner person into Christ likeness. Therefore our responsibility as Jesus Christ’s disciples, and recipients of the grace of God is to keep Jesus Christ’s Word. Since keeping His commandments and walking in brotherly love is the mark of all of His disciples (1 John 3:3-11). For “…Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” Heb. 9:28

Now returning back to Marks gospel, and the passage at hand, Jesus in verse twenty two in response to the disciple’s amazement at how quickly the fig tree He cursed the previous day had withered away, responds by saying: ...“Have faith in God.” 23 “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. vs. 22-24

Please consider then that Jesus' opening Words “Have faith in God.” Vs. 22 are foundational to everything that is Christian. For that is the beginning of not only having ones prayers answered, but of having a relationship with God. For it’s not what we do (or haven't done) that brings us into a relationship with God, it’s what we believe about His Son. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Eph. 2:8-9  Therefore all prayer as Jesus says must begin by faith in God, not faith in oneself, or someone else, but faith in God. Since it is God alone who has all Power and all Authority at all times, so as to be able to do anything at anytime. Therefore Jesus though seemingly using a hyperbole, to emphasize our need for faith in God when we pray, is in reality being quite literal in that He is emphasizing there are no limitations to the possibilities through believing prayer that one may achieve that would otherwise be impossible to achieve, any other way: “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” Vs. 23-24

Now unfortunately Jesus’ Words have been misused by people who seemingly think His Words are an invitation to satisfy their own greedy and lustful hearts, (which they are not) for the Apostle James refuted such when by the Holy Spirit he wrote saying, “You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” James 4:2-3

Therefore Jesus’ Words were not given as a Divine promise for those kinds of prayers, but for believers to pray in faith to God. For the person who sets out to do the will of God as the disciples were doing, will inevitably run into mountains that they will need moved. Just as we will. Therefore Jesus’ Words are a promise of Divine Intervention or Help when we are faced with problems or obstacles that we by natural means cannot overcome. Yet when we pray in faith, in God’s ability to overcome or move them, believing He will, Jesus Promises He will. Consider the disciples were twelve relatively unknown and insignificant men, even in the eyes of their own countrymen; they were merely untrained and uneducated men (Acts 4:13). Yet they were chosen by the Lord Jesus Christ to be His agents of bringing His Person and His Message to the ends of the world. Therefore they would need far more faith in God than any sort of self reliance on their own giftedness or abilities. For in a world separated from and often hostile towards God. And seemingly being run and at times overrun by Satan and his forces. Accomplishing the whole task by natural means is quite impossible (Zech. 4:6). Yet Jesus says to us all “have faith in God”. For ultimately it is our Sovereign Lord of the Universe who is fulfilling everything His Word declares. And thus He is steadily and unwaveringly accomplishing His own will and purposes, through and for His people, even while allowing the free will of mankind and spiritual forces of wickedness to do theirs. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Rom. 8:31-32

Now Jesus also went on to say that praying in faith to God is also to be a time of forgiving those who have sinned against us, since prayer is also a time of confessing sins and or seeking God’s Power to overcome them. Therefore prayer is not only a time of believing God to do what we cannot. But it is to be a time when we are to be forgiving the wrongs others have done to us. For if we do not forgive others who sin against us, as Jesus said, neither will our Father in heaven forgive us our trespasses. For that is what Jesus Christ did for us all when He took all our sins on Himself on the cross, while we were still sinners, demonstrating God’s love for us all (Rom. 5:8).
Therefore having received the reconciliation which God worked freely and mercifully for us all through His own Son, we as recipients of the grace of God are to be like minded towards everyone who sins against us, if we expect the same forgiveness from Him, now as His children, when we sin and trespass against Him. For God our Father freely and mercifully forgives us when we ask Him (1 John 1:9) hence we are to extend the same grace to others as well (Matt. 18:21-35). Yet how many of us fall into Satan’s (2 Cor. 2:1-11) or is it our own selfish and prideful hearts trap of holding out for justice, even while in prayer with God and seeking grace from Him. Somehow forgetting that Jesus Christ doesn’t demand justice from the Father when we sin against Him, instead He acts continually as our High Priest Advocating before the throne of grace on our behalf (Heb. 4:14-16; 1 John 2:1-2). For the Lord Jesus Christ though sinless and guiltless in every possible way did not decry the horrible burden God the Father laid on Him when He ask Him to bear the sins of us all, so that we might be forgiven by Jesus’ shed blood and sacrificial death on the cross for us all. Therefore in light of such things there is something terribly evil and unjust about our unwillingness to forgive those who sin against us when Christ Jesus the Lord bore such humiliation and pain and suffering just so we could all have God's forgiveness and new and everlasting life by faith in Him. Therefore Christ’s command is clear, forgiveness from God is linked to our forgiving others. Again God the Father is clear, forgive and you will be forgiven.

Scripture Quotations
The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

No comments:

Post a Comment