Summary: When Jesus cursed the fig tree in Mark 11, it was a symbolic act that represented God’s judgment on Israel for not bearing fruit and blessing the nations. As Christians, God has blessed us to be a blessing.
THE HOUSE OF PRAYER
INTRO: Talk about the youth conference and our spring break visit with my family.
OPENING TEXT: “Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants-- Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast My covenant-- Even them I will bring to My holy mountain (God’s presence), and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” (Isaiah 56:6-7).
QUESTION: “If our church was gone tomorrow, would anyone in the community notice?”
KEY TEXT: Mark 11: Background – it is Palm Sunday, King Jesus enters into Jerusalem
“11 And Jesus went into Jerusalem and into the temple. So when He had looked around at all things, as the hour was already late, He went out to Bethany with the twelve.
• Beth any = house of the poor.
• Very little rainfall, about half an inch a year, the farmers did not do well there.
• Jesus’ friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus lived there, He was likely staying with them.
12 Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. 13 And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 In response Jesus said to it, "Let no one eat fruit from you ever again." And His disciples heard it.
• A fig tree is symbolic of prosperity and God’s blessings in the Bible.
• The fig tree was also a symbol of God’s blessing upon Israel.
• When Jesus came to the tree, there were leaves, but there was no fruit on it…
• The nation of Israel had leaves (outward show) but there was no fruit.
• Jesus is hungry for a fruitful church!
• Charaz - described the teaching of a Jewish rabbi: They would string stories together – the charaz = to string pearls together. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John did this. The first pearl is the story of the fig tree. Next story:
15 So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple…
• The temple represents us as believers (we are the temple of the Holy Spirit)
• In the Old Testament, God’s presence dwelled in the temple, now He lives in us.
15 So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 16 And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple.
• This was the temple Herod had. Solomon’s temple had been destroyed in 586 BC.
• Outside were different courts where people could come – this was the Gentiles’ court
• The money changers charged exorbitant fees for their service. (doves = a month’s salary)
• They were making it hard for the Gentiles to come and worship. Jesus was angry!
17 Then He taught, saying to them, "Is it not written, ’My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a den of thieves."
• God wants us to be ‘the house of prayer / blessing / ministry’ for all nations.
• Notice the church is first of all to be a house of prayer, not preaching or praise!
• We are supposed to be here to be a blessing! It’s not about US!
• We are the only group that exists primarily for those who are non-members.
THE BIG IDEA:
When Jesus cursed the fig tree in Mark chapter eleven, it was a symbolic act that represented God’s judgment on Israel for not bearing fruit and blessing the nations. As Christians, we need to remember that God has also blessed us to be a blessing.
THE CALL OF ABRAHAM:
“Now the Lord had said to Abraham: "Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3).
BACK TO MARK’S STRING OF PEARLS:
18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it and sought how they might destroy Him; for they feared Him, because all the people were astonished at His teaching. 19 When evening had come, He went out of the city. 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. 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.” (Mark 11:11-26).