Summary: Prayer, Faith, Forgiveness, Life
JAIL BREAK (Breaking the Chains of Unforgiveness) -
Faith, Prayer and Forgiveness
September 16, 2018
Mark 11:23-26 (p. 708)
I don’t know a lot about fig trees so I had to study a bit…fig trees have two seasons for producing fruit and the fruit always appears before it’s leaves.
If you see leaves on a fig tree then there is an expectation that the Newton factory is open.
So with that in mind…let me share with you a story that’s recorded twice in the New Testament…once in Matthew 21:3…and also in Mark Chapter 11…It’s during the week before Jesus’ crucifixion and Jesus has entered Jerusalem victoriously riding a colt…while the crowds have spread out their cloaks and palm branches…proclaiming “Hosanna…blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”
That night He returns to Bethany with His disciples…the next day He gets up and heads for Jerusalem again…as they leave Bethany Jesus is hungry…He sees a fig tree full of leaves in the distance and even though it’s late in the season for figs…It’s full of leaves…when Jesus approaches it…no figs…He curses the tree and says, “May no one eat fruit from you again.”
His disciples not only witness the vent…they hear Him curse this tree…but that’s not the end of the story…Listen:
MARK 11:15-22 (p. 708)
That’s quite a day, huh? I guess the rebel in me loves this picture of Jesus in the temple…Driving out the profiteers!!! And if you’re driving someone out…it’s by force…tables are overturned, benches are thrown, animals are scattered. Jesus doesn’t give them time to carry out their merchandise…Move…NOW!!!
And then he turns and teaches…why “God’s Word says, My house will be a house of prayer for all nations…you have made it a den of thieves!!!”
The Pharisees and other thieves don’t like being called out and embarrassed and they want Jesus to die.
That evening when Jesus and His followers head back to Bethany the fig tree He’d cursed earlier is withered from the roots Peter says…Look Lord…the tree you cursed…and Jesus answers:
“HAVE FAITH IN GOD.”
Why does Jesus say this?
I. BECAUSE FAITH IS ABOUT THE FRUIT NOT THE FOLIAGE
What happens when the temple still looks like the temple? Has sacrifices, loud prayers, and crowds filling it but has become a religious factory instead of God’s house of worship and prayer…lots of religious foliage…no real spiritual fruit…It makes Jesus angry enough to clean it out.
What happens when Jesus is hungry and He sees a tree that promises to meet that need with an abundance of leaves? But that promise is empty…it’s just foliage…there’s no fruit…He curses it.
Look at verse 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.”
These are the religious fig trees of Israel…They are the temple building…lots of foliage and no fruit…a beautiful building in which God had been removed.
They hated and feared Jesus for teaching this powerful truth about faith…the truth that faith is about fruit, not foliage…That temples are about God, not religious activity.
II. PRAYER ISN’T JUST ABOUT WORDS IT’S ABOUT ACTION
MARK 11:23-24 (p. 708)
These are tough words for me because I’ve prayed for God to heal my best friend’s cancer…and I know God can miraculously do that…He brought me out of a burn unit no one thought I would survive. And my best friend died of cancer…I preached his funeral…Did I not believe enough? Did I not have enough faith?
Paul prayed 3 times to have a thorn removed from his flesh…And God said “NO.” Did the greatest missionary that ever lived not have enough faith?
Jesus Himself prayed that the cup He was being asked to drink…the crucifixion and all that went with it, be removed…it wasn’t.
This scripture in Mark 11 doesn’t mean that God will not say “No” or “Wait.” God will not go against His will or plan or give you rock when you ask for an egg…or a snake when you ask for a fish.
The key is “Have Faith in God.”
If we’re going to pray we need to pray believing that God can move mountains…This isn’t a verse that says…Test God’s power…it’s a verse that says, “TRUST GOD’S POWER.”
Usually our mountains have a name…an illness, a divorce, a rebellious child, a financial struggle, grief or injury from another.
It’s a huge crushing mountain of a burden. We can’t move it on our own…Jesus’ intent…Have faith in God! He has the power to move it and move you through it.
Faith is about believing that God is bigger than the things we can’t lift on our own. He is strong enough to lift them and toss them into the sea.