Mark 11:20-26 Mountain Moving Faith

Lessons from a fig tree

Lessons from a fig tree

We are on the way back into Jerusalem again this morning with Jesus and His disciples. On the way Peter notices the fig tree from the day before. The withered fig tree is now about to serve a purpose greater than it could have ever known.

Let me start out by saying that I feel sorry for the fig tree. When Jesus approached it looking for fruit, it wasn’t the right season. I shared with you about the two fruit seasons the last time we looked at this lonely tree. We also discussed the quality of those two fruits. But why did it have to die? It was doing exactly what a fig tree was supposed to do, wasn’t it? Maybe it was for this lesson alone.

Why did Jesus have to die? He was doing exactly what a “prophet” was expected to do, wasn’t He? Jesus’ life was VERY fruitful, but that fruit could never become the second fruit God desired UNTIL He died. With Jesus’ resurrection the new fruit would finally be able to grow.

Our tree’s death brought about a very valuable lesson for Jesus’ disciples. Jesus is in “crunch time” and doesn’t have many days left to impress upon His disciples all the truths that they will need. He uses this tree’s life and death to hit one more truth home. The truth of faith.

Faith is the beginning of all our fruit as believers. Our birth as a believer is through faith that Jesus was and is Who He said He was. Without that first faith nothing else can develop. Our tree was proof positive that faith “moves mountains.” It moves us from death to life. Is this the reason that lonely tree gave its life? If so, if I were the tree, I would be praising God for the opportunity to be so highly prized and used by Jesus. Not that I desire to die, but that I desire to be used by Jesus in such a profound way. This tree stepped out of its ordinary life into an extraordinary lesson. This tree lives forever as a reminder of that lesson, long after all its counterparts have fallen by the wayside.

On to the lesson, so the tree’s life isn’t wasted.

Peter is the one to notice the tree as the group was walking. Jesus’ words to the tree the day before had stuck in his mind. He probably wondered why Jesus seemed so angry with the tree too. “He knows it’s not the right season. Why didn’t He ask one of us for something to eat if He was really that hungry? What is going to happen to the tree? I’m going to keep my eye on it and see what His words did to it.”

Peter did just that. Was there surprise in Peter’s voice when he pointed out the tree? Was it awe we hear instead? Or was it simple recognition, as in pointing out a street sign that simply marks the path? I’m leaning towards either of the first two reactions, but for Jesus it was the third. Jesus was not surprised by the state of the tree. He knew exactly what would become of it as soon as He spoke the words. Now it was His street sign pointing the way to the road of faith. I wonder if the disciples would walk by this tree and stop to remember this lesson long after Jesus ascended to Heaven.

Sorry, side tracked again. Maybe it is easier for me to get side tracked here because of my history with “the faith movement.” This set of verses is what a LOT of the faith movement was founded on. There is even a song created from this passage that I can still hear ringing in my head right now. Because I couldn’t get it out of my head, I looked it up and found it. Check it out, if you want to. David Ingles Mark 11:23-24.

Can we say side tracked again! Ok. On to what Jesus was saying that morning. Yes, these verses are powerful! Yes they are FULL of promise for the believer. And YES, they came directly from Jesus. But what does that mean for me?

I don’t believe Jesus is telling His disciples that they have a blank check with God, like some others would have you believe. What I do believe is that Jesus is showing His disciples the power faith has. Faith is not some ethereal concept, but has direct impact on our day to day lives. Without it we would be reduced to sitting in the corner cowering, waiting to see what might befall us next. With it, we can stand up and move through this world KNOWING that God is in control. We can trust Him to respond to our pleas. We can know that He cares for us individually and corporately. And we can KNOW that He gives us His word and authority to walk out our daily life.

I know I don’t live up to the conditions put into these verses. I have doubts in some areas. I have unforgiveness in some areas too. Does this mean I have no faith and am forever lost? I don’t believe so. I know my shortcomings in the area of faith. You probably do too, if you have been with me very long. But my weak areas do not negate my faith. Jesus’ disciples had these same weaknesses. When astounded by another new miracle or faced with an unusual challenge, their faith had to stretch. Jesus often commented on their lack of faith, yet He kept working with them and challenging their faith every day. Their faith took a quantum leap once He sent the Holy Spirit to them, but even then, I’m sure they had occasional struggles.

Their faith had a firsthand foundation to build upon that I wish I had. I KNOW I have a personal relationship with Jesus, but I long for the one on one walking side by side experience they had. Then again, maybe I don’t want that. It would mean that I would have to walk with Him right up to Calvary too. Too bad you don’t get to pick and choose which moments to walk with Jesus.

I want to direct your attention to the last two verses in this section. Here Jesus points out another block to “mountain moving faith” results. Jesus says that we have to forgive others. He says that this blocks our prayer’s path. God won’t forgive if we choose not to forgive.

Here too, God is merciful. I know how hard it is to forgive, especially continual hurts. The only way to truly forgive these kinds of hurts is to turn them over to God and ask Him to grow the forgiveness in your heart. I also find that revisiting the hurts over and over again is a GOOD way to keep it as an open sore. Like the father of the epileptic boy said, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief”; Lord, I forgive, please help my unforgiveness.

Father God, thank You for Your mercy with my unbelief and unforgiveness. Thank You for stating Your standards and helping me grow towards them. I am pretty positive I’ll never fully make it to them, but that is where Your grace and mercy come in.

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your lessons along the road. You took the time to turn everyday encounters into learning experiences. Thank You for the new way You showed me to look at the fig tree. Thank You for using it so profoundly. I desire to grow to the place where mountains will move for me too. I don’t know what You have in store for me personally, but I DO have faith that YOU will get me there, when it is time. Thank You for the faith You gave me to step into Your family. The faith to take You at Your word. Please keep growing my faith.

I’m a little afraid of that last part because I know what happens when you pray for patience. You bring opportunities to use patience. If I pray for faith, are You going to send me opportunities where I have to use stronger faith? If so, please be gentle with me. Thank You that I can trust You to do just that too.

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