2020-04-26 – Mark 11.12-21 – Fruit Bearing Faith
2020-04-26 - Mark 11.12-21 - Fruit Bearing Faith
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.
We are continuing in our verse by verse study of the Gospel of Mark. I love digging deep in God’s word and presenting it in context so that we all might know better God’s will and purpose for our lives going forward.
Please turn in your Bibles to Mark 11.12 of God’s Inspired, Infallible and Living Word. But let us first start with Prayer.
At our last reading of Mark, chapter 11, Jesus had just entered into Jerusalem on a colt of a donkey. He was greeted by hundreds or thousands of onlookers as they waived their palm branches and hollered Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest. We now celebrate that event in what we refer to as Palm Sunday, followed by Easter or Resurrection Sunday just a couple weeks ago. Although this year we couldn’t celebrate like we normally do, we still recognized Jesus Christ and His rising from the grave thus proving His deity and majesty, Amen?
So again, what takes place in our verses today, starts after Palm Sunday and before His Crucificition. Verse 12 states.
12 The next day when they went out from Bethany, he was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree with leaves, he went to find out if there was anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for it was not the season for figs. 14 He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And his disciples heard it.
15 They came to Jerusalem, and he went into the temple and began to throw out those buying and selling. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, 16 and would not permit anyone to carry goods through the temple. 17 He was teaching them: “Is it not written, My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it a den of thieves!”
18 The chief priests and the scribes heard it and started looking for a way to kill him. For they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was astonished by his teaching. 19 Whenever evening came, they would go out of the city.
20 Early in the morning, as they were passing by, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. 21 Then Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”
22 Jesus replied to them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes, that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.
24 Therefore I tell you, everything you pray and ask for—believe that you have received it and it will be yours. 25 And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your wrongdoing.”
First, you may find it interesting to know that this is the only destructive miracle written about in the gospels, the destruction of the fig tree. The passages that I read to you has two major but related components: the fig tree and the temple, but they both are really previews of the same thing. This is a parable and an illustration of the coming destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem.
You might know that the temple sits at the heart of Judaism. And the curse of Jesus that comes on the fig tree and thus on the temple, demonstrates for us that God was not pleased with the temple or the leadership of the temple. And since the temple was corrupt, the nation was corrupt also. This temple was a massive structure that was under construction for more than 80 years.
King David’s son Solomon built the first temple, however three hundred years later, Babylon destroyed that temple, leveled it to the ground and plundered everything that was valuable. In 515 B.C, seventy years later, Zerubbabel then built a modest temple on the same spot, but it was nothing like Solomon’s temple.
A few hundred years pass and that second temple is was desecrated. Then around 20 B.C. comes along, a great king by the name of Herod, and so we get the third temple which was really a kind of an overhaul and expansion of the second temple. That is the temple that Jesus entered into in our verses today. Then later around 70 A.D., the Romans came and smash it to the ground, leaving not one stone left on top of another and they plunder it again as it had been plundered in the past.
The stories of the temple is also the same story of Israel’s repeated cycle of apostasy. Israel built the temple to worship God, then because of hypocrisy, God brings judgment, the nation falls, and the temple is crushed. To date that temple has not be rebuilt again yet, but according to Bible Prophesy there will be a temple rebuilt again in the time of the Tribulation. I had the pleasure of visiting the temple mount last year, and it is surely something to marvel at for sure.
So you can pretty much track the history of Israel by the stories of the temple.
What we seeing in our scripture verses today is really a preview of the destruction of the third temple. Jesus came into the city. He knows He’s got a long day ahead of Himself and He needs food. He’s hungry and His passion for what He knows He is going to do at the temple is growing. Then verse 13 says, “Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf.” As I understand it, for these fig trees, the fruit comes first and the leaves come second. Since there were leaves, there should have also been some young but edible fruit. So Jesus had a right to expect some fruit from which to eat. So He approaches the tree, and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves.
His response is a parable. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” So Jesus basically pronounced a curse on that tree that eventually killed it. How do you know it’s a curse, you might ask? Well reading ahead verse 21, “Peter said to Him, ‘Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered.’”
So because of the leaves, the tree had the appearance of fruit, but it really had none, it was a false profession. Likewise, there are many people in our world today that might look the part of a religious person, but they too have no real fruit. This illustration of the barren fig tree also provides a graphic illustration of hypocrisy that was taking place in the temple and the Israelite nation. Jesus expounds on this himself in Matthew 23 when He referred to the leaders of Israel and says, “You hypocrites, you hypocrites, you hypocrites”. Throughout that entire record in Matthew 23. He addresses the hypocrisy of Israel’s religiosity. Just like the fig tree, the temple is therefore cursed too which means destruction was pronounced upon it, and that destruction came in the sweeping assault by the Romans just forty years later.
This fig tree event is tied with another parable that Jesus gave in the thirteenth chapter of Luke. In verse 6 it says, “He began telling this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and didn’t find any. He said to the vineyard-keeper, “Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?” And he answered and said to him, “Let it alone, sir for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.”’ Well a little more time had passed for Israel since Jesus spoke that parable and there’s been no change no repentance and no turning to Him. And so today’s parable of Mark 11 picks up where the parable of Luke 13 ends. At the temple that day Jesus sees again a fruitless deception of worship. Judaism is spiritually bankrupt and subsequently it is now cursed by God.
On the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “By their fruits you shall know them.” Because the temple is corrupt, that means its leaders are corrupt. When the leaders are corrupt, the nation was corrupt. If it’s bad in the temple, it’s bad everywhere, therefore God’s judgement on the Temple that day and effectively on the Israeli nation was justified.
So, Jesus entered the temple. This is a temple that would hold hundreds of thousands of people, a massive place. And there was all kinds of shops and bazaars selling animals, and oil, wine and salt for the sacrifices. This temple marketplace was probably very busy during this time leading up to the Passover. And then it says “He began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple and overturning the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves.”
I don’t know if you have ever been in those kinds of marketplaces, but it gets your blood pumping just hearing all the commotion. Jesus knew that there was a lot of disreputable business going on that was even “sanctioned” by the priests.
It was a scam of the rankest kind because if you brought a sacrifice from home, like a lamb without blemish or spot from your own flock, and you brought that to the temple to give as a sacrifice, there would have to be a priest who would approve the animal first.
If the priest said it was not good enough for sacrifice, then you would be required to buy an animal from the vendors inside the temple at ten times the price. You would also be required to pay the temple tax in a certain kind of coinage. And since pilgrims came from all kinds of nations they would have to exchange their coins for a substantial mark-up.
Jesus went in and saw what was going on, and He ripped into all of this. In fact, verse 16, tells us, “He wouldn’t permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple.” Jesus stopped them dead in their tracks, brought everything to a halt, and basically evacuated the place. This shows us so clearly that the Lord hates those who pervert worship. We should never take worship for granted brothers and sisters.
Then as it shows us here in verse 17, that “He began to teach and say to them”. ‘Is it not written?,’ referring to the Old Testament, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations” That’s right out of Isaiah 56:7. When He says ‘My house’ He’s referring to the temple of God. This is My house He said. And My house shall be called a house of prayer. That’s what it was built for. A place to go and contemplate God and His majesty, and a quiet place to pray. However that is not what Jesus found was it. With all the noise and commotion going on, let alone the disreputable activity, nobody could hardly meditate or pray there.
Jesus said instead, “You have made it a robbers’ den.” And that’s why He did what He did. Then according to verse 18, “The chief priests and the scribes heard and began seeking how to destroy Him.” Their anger against Jesus was definitely escalating, as Jesus was teaching and the crowd was hanging on His every word. Jesus’s influence was greater than theirs, His popularity was greater than theirs, and jealousy and envy and fear now caused them to want Him dead. And that’s very important to contemplate, because He was intentionally setting Himself up for the Crucificition which is just a few days away.
Then verse 19 says, “When evening came, they would go out of the city.” They would go back to Bethany, where they were staying. And “As they were passing, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up, rotten from the core. Being reminded, Peter said to Him, ‘Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered.’”
The symbolism of what happened to that fig tree, is what started to happen to the Jewish nation and the temple. And it all eventually culminated at the foot of the cross. When Jesus died, the temple curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the people, was ripped from top to bottom. God ripped that curtain and 40 years later the temple and Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans.
Today we see a lot of what Jesus saw in his day regarding the lack of true Fruit Bearing Faith. That is the title of today’s message. Many people claim they are Christian but just like that fig tree, they are not truly fruit bearing.
Galatians 5:22 “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
That is what, we as Christ-Followers should be exhibiting. If you ever question your salvation, look at your fruit. Are you bearing more fruit of the Spirit today than what you did a year ago?
During this time of global crisis, we are presented with a very unique situation where your fruit can surely be demonstrated. Don’t waist this opportunity to show Whose you are. I promise you, in doing so, you will reap the most blessings of all.
God loves you brothers and sisters. May God be with you all.
Let us pray.