We are now continuing with the theme of faith. In part 2 of our faith series, we are looking at how to practice faith beyond doubt. Let’s start with Jesus’ actions in Mark 11.
Jesus curses the fig tree
In Mark 11 we read from verse 12:
“The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again.’ And his disciples heard him say it. On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves… And as he taught them, he said, ‘Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it a den of robbers.’”
This begs the question, why did Jesus curse the innocent fig tree, seeing that it was not the fruit-bearing season of the year? And why would He go straight from there to the temple in Jerusalem and drive out the moneychangers and merchants from the courts? Is there a connection between these two incidents?
Indeed, there is a very direct connection if we keep in mind that in the Old Testament God often refers to Israel as a fig tree and a vineyard. God had a very different design for the temple, “…For my house will be called a house of prayer” (Isaiah 56:7). Furthermore, Jeremiah prophecies in Jeremiah 7:11 “’Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? And, in verses 14 and 15, “Therefore, what I did to Shiloh I will now do to the house that bears my Name, the temple you trust in, the place I gave to you and your ancestors … I will thrust you from my presence…’”
These are the very texts Jesus quotes from as he drives the merchants from the temple. The merchants in the temple courts appeared pious, devoutly converting worshippers’ secular money into temple money for sacrifices and offerings, but the truth is, they were making a financial killing and exploiting the worshippers in the name of God! While they were displaying the external “fig leaves” of religious piety, they were serving Mammon, not Yahweh. They bore no real spiritual fruit. Jesus cursed the fig tree as a powerful analogy before cleansing the temple and so fulfil the prophetic passages referred to above.
Faith beyond doubt
Now Jesus transforms his actions in the temple into lesson in faith from verse 20 in Mark 11:
“In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered! ‘Have faith in God,’ Jesus answered, ‘Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.’”
Jesus teaches us in verse 24 how to pray across time zones and since “chronos” is the Greek word for time, let’s call it a multi-chronistic prayer for now. Prayer involves:
- the present: “… whatever you ask for in prayer”
- the past: “… believe that you have received it”
- the future: “… and it will be yours.”
We’ll pause here for now but look out for Part 3 – where we will learn more about praying across all time zones without a doubt.
God bless you richly,
Dr. Jurie Vermeulen
FEBA Radio SA