Forty Days with Christ November 25

I have invited our congregation to read the Gospel of Mark and Luke one chapter a day.  We began on November 15 and will conclude on Christmas Eve.  I invite you to read along with us. Please feel free to share comments, questions and insights.  I look forward to the interaction and the blessing of reading with you!

Introduction to Mark 11

The scripture we use for Palm Sunday is shared earlier in the ministry of Jesus than the other Gospels.  Jesus would have gone to Jerusalem many times in his life on pilgrimage to the Holy City.  This journey is unlike any other.  This is a declaration of  his prophetic ministry.  It is a line in the sand the would bring greater focus to everything he said and did.

His harsh treatment of the fig tree reflects two truths.  One, Jesus was both fully divine and fully human.  There are times his humanity comes through and can either serve to make us uncomfortable or comfortable knowing Jesus understands our human moments.  The second is that Jesus expects fruitfulness from trees, disciples, churches, etc.

His overturning of the tables in the temple portray an angry prophet at self interests getting in the way of others and their worship.  

The rest of the chapter lifts up the power of prayer, the need to forgive to receive forgiveness and Jesus unwilling to be taken away from his mission by critics.

Mark 11

When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, “Why are you doing this?” just say this, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.” ’ They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, ‘What are you doing, untying the colt?’ They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,
‘Hosanna!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
   Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’

Then 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.

On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry.Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. 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 heard it.

Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, ‘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.’
And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. Then Peter remembered and said to him, ‘Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, “Be taken up and thrown into the sea”, and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

‘Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.’

Again they came to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?’ Jesus said to them, ‘I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me.’ They argued with one another, ‘If we say, “From heaven”, he will say, “Why then did you not believe him?” But shall we say, “Of human origin”?’—they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet. So they answered Jesus, ‘We do not know.’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.’

2 thoughts on “Forty Days with Christ November 25

  1. Brenda DuPree

    For what is the fig tree a metaphor – a person, Israel? Why does Jesus give up on something or someone who does not produce what God intends or expects? What part would nurturing and forgiveness have in this? In later verses, he says all things are possible if we believe and forgive.

  2. Rev. Rick Dake

    This fig tree serves in Mark serves as a visual lesson Jesus has just taught about the temple no longer serving its true purpose as a house of prayer. It exists but is not serving its purpose. Nurturing and forgiveness are indeed a key part of Jesus ministry. But not if the temple, Israel. and the worshippers are not willing participants. You are right when you comment that all things are possible if we believe and forgive. The if is important. To this point, the desire for forgiveness or a willingness to do what it takes to be fruitful is not being demonstrated.

    Jesus desires reconciliation but does not force it to happen. The death of the tree indicates the serious consequences when we do not put ourselves in the place where God can work through us.

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