Mark: According to
Asking and Receiving
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. 25 And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
Peter and the disciples upon the third day of the week our traditional Tuesday found Jesus headed from Bethany to Jerusalem. As can be expected Peter’s response to the withered tree was one of surprise. Why after all this time should he be surprised that a command of Jesus did not come to pass, I have no clue. But Jesus picked up on their lack of faith and so responded to Peter and the others by saying “Have faith in God. They still not perceive the importance of faith. Instead of believing on the miracle they showed surprise and wonder, focusing on the miracle itself rather than upon its meaning. Jesus took advantage of their interest to point out the heights to which true faith my soar and then added an admonition with respect to an important prerequisite to answered prayer.
At that moment when Jesus spoke stating upon this mountain, they were climbing the slop of Mount Olives. Except for the valley of the Kidron, the Mount of Olives occupied most the space between Jerusalem and Bethany.
I once had a question posed to me in a small group setting of can we really cause mountains to be moved by our prayers. My answer surprised those in attendance.
Jesus Himself never moved literal mountains, nor did he intend His followers to contemplate any necessity of doing so themselves. Jesus here is speaking of figurative mountains of difficulty. It is by faith in accepting Christ’s atoning sacrifice that we become free from the mountain of sin that overwhelms us. It is by faith that we can overcomes the mountain of doubt that continually swirls around us, threatening to bury us.
But Jesus took this a step further by stating. “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.
John the beloved disciple of Jesus picks up this theme in I John 1:9 where he states. “If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleans us from all unrighteousness.” If we expect God to forgive us, then we need to forgive others and also ask for forgiveness from them. It is only simple human pride that keeps us from seeking forgiveness from our brother and sister in Christ. It is pride that keeps us from seeking total forgiveness from God. God longs to impart upon us the blessings promised to those who humbly come before Him with repentance in their heart, standing before them asking for their lives to be changed.
Yet our faith wavers like a dead tree in the wind, pushed to and fro as we come near to breaking, because we failed to sink our roots deep into the rich soil of the gospel and failed to accept the witnesses given by the Father to his earth children to guide and direct them. Consequently, our prayers are weak and feeble, full of disbelief that God can really do for us what He has promised. We sound a lot like Peter who exclaimed, “Look the tree has withered from the roots up.” Why, because we fail to grasp ahold by faith the promises that are given to us.
But it all depends upon the attitude we come before others with and how we come before God. God is looking, longing, waiting for a people that will grasp ahold of the gospel message and by faith step out and bearing fruit, and not being like the fig tree that looked beautiful on the outside but was fruitless before its creator.
There will come another day, when we will stand before our creator and he will examine us and know if we have produced fruit for him or not. He will know and keenly understand out motive and will judge us based upon the fruit we have born, not by the pride that is within our hearts that keeps us from by faith moving mountains.
Then they came again to Jerusalem. And he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes and the elders came to him, and they questioned His authority.
In our next post we will see what question they asked of Jesus.