Summary: Explores Mark 11:22-24 in its greater context. Is the "whatsoever" of verse 23 unconditional?
TITLE: Have Faith In God
TEXT: Mark 11:12-26
By Louis Bartet, Point Assembly of God on 02/02/03
I’m sure you’ve all heard the story about the homemaker who always cut the end of the ham off before placing it in the baking pan. When asked by her daughter why she did this, she replied, "I don’t know except for the fact that my mother always did it that way." Later, while talking to her mother, the woman asked, "Mom, why did you always cut the end of the ham off before placing it in the baking pan?" The older woman replied, "Oh that’s simple, the hams never fit my small pan, so I cut the end off so it would fit."
It’s amazing how things make sense when they are explained within context.
This is definitely true of Mark 11:22-24.
22And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. 23For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. 24Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
-Are these statements, made by Jesus, a kind of carte blanche?
-Does He give His hearers a kind of blank check or unconditional opportunity to get whatever they want?
-Is the "whatsoever" of verse 23 unconditional or conditional?
Like the reason for cutting the end off the ham, this issue cannot be accurately understood apart from its immediate context, which begins in verse twelve.
THE TREE CURSED (Mk. 11:12-14)
12On the next day, when they had left Bethany, He became hungry. 13Seeing 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. 14He said to it, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again!" And His disciples were listening.
Jesus went to the tree hungry and fully expecting to harvest some figs, but instead of finding figs "He found nothing but leaves". One might expect Him to use His power to restore the tree and make it productive. Instead, Jesus curses the tree: "May no one ever eat fruit from you again!" Apart from the drowning of the pigs (Mark 5:13), this is the only instance of Jesus using His miraculous power destructively.
-Was He merely interested in impressing His disciples with His power over nature?
Jesus never performed His miracles with an eye on sensationalism. No, Jesus wasn’t showing off, rather He wanted to communicate a larger lesson to His disciples and to us.
In the immediate context nothing happens to the fig tree. Everything looks fine as the disciples follow Jesus away from the area.
TRANS: Mark begins the next section with, "Then," after He had cursed the fig tree...
THE TEMPLE CLEANSED (11:15-19)
15Then they came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who were selling doves; 16and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple. 17And He began to teach and say 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 ROBBERS/ DEN." 18The chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching.