Wednesday May 13, 2020
19 And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.Mark 11:19-24 (NRSV)
20 In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21 Then Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” 22 Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 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. 24 So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Have you ever bitten into an apple and found that it was rotten?
You expect the apple to be delicious, crisp, juicy, and you end up biting into something disgusting, mushy, or dry. You then spit the rotten fruit from your mouth, and throw the apple into the trash.
One day, Jesus was hungry and walked past a fig tree that did not yet produce fruit, and he cursed it (Mark 11:12-14).
They then entered into Jerusalem, and that is where the author of Mark records Jesus entering the temple, seeing its corruption, and its taking advantage of the poor, and declared that they had turned his Father’s house into a den of robbers.
As they left Jerusalem, Peter saw that the fig tree that Jesus had cursed before has withered; its bark likely looked unhealthy, its leaves were probably blowing away with the wind, and it would certainly not produce fruit again.
Jesus used this opportunity to tell them that just as he had the power to curse that fig tree, that prayer is just as powerful of a force to change the circumstances around them. That they do not have to doubt the ability of God to change the impossible to the possible.
I think that we can draw two things from Mark 11, in looking at the context of the chapter that precedes the passage for today’s devotional:
ONE: We are meant to bear fruit. Faith is not meant to be all about us, for that can lead to selfishness at the expense of others, like it did in the Temple of Jerusalem that Jesus cleansed. Instead, our faith is meant to grow within us so that we can bless others like a fig tree that bears fruit that gives others nourishment.
TWO: We are to meant to actively pray for our world, and those around us. To bear fruit is to bless those around us with our faith that inspires us to not only share the hope of Jesus to the world, but to also be people who help others through the actions that our faith calls us to take to help others. However, if we seek to bless our world, we are not expected to do so alone; we have direct communication with God through prayer, and God hears the requests and pleads from God’s people. Answer’s to prayer may be a yes, it may be a no, it may be a “not yet”, but we should still earnestly believe that we can pray to our God.
We are to be people that provide nourishment to our world through being a people that seeks the Lord in prayer.
If we are not voices of faith and hope, and we claim to be, we are like that apple we thought about earlier, or that fig tree that looks promising, but isn’t.
We won’t be perfect at this, but that is why we pray.
Our world needs faith and hope right now; it needs to know that there are still people in our world who care about them, and what they are going through, and it needs to know that there is God who listens to their prayer.