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March 12th: Trees, Mountains, and Pharisees…Oh my!

Today we have another devotional from Taryn Flake. We also have another picture from atop Mount Olive. I thought about sharing a picture of Mount Olive. However, I decided that Jesus often had his gaze toward the city center and toward where the temple was. The temple has since been destroyed. What remains of the temple is the Western Wall (Wailing Wall). Now the Dome of the Rock (gold dome) sits where a portion of the temple would have stood.




 

Scripture: Mark 11:20-33

 

Trees, Mountains, and Pharisees…Oh my!

             Okay, they were religious leaders and chief priests, not just Pharisees, but that didn’t have the same ring for the title. I’d like to attempt to talk about all three sections of today’s Scripture lesson. One note I’d like to make is that we are spending almost half of our Lenten journey in Mark discussing Holy Week. What we just read yesterday is our Scripture text for Palm Sunday, and the rest of the Mark readings are Jesus’ actions in the week leading up to Easter.


            In the first few verses, Peter notices the withered fig tree from yesterday’s Scripture passage. Pay attention to this fig tree because it will be in the passage again on Thursday. If something is mentioned 3 times in Scripture, we ought to pay attention. Every action that Jesus takes, especially those that occur during Holy Week, we should take note of. These are not just haphazard actions. Jesus was fulfilling Micah 7 when he cursed the fig tree, as Micah looks for early figs but doesn’t find any. Micah finds no righteous people in Israel and Jesus finds no righteous people in Jerusalem. As my Bible puts it, “the nation is fruitless on the eve of the last days’ harvest.” I wonder how Jesus would describe our own lives.


            I requested that Curtis add a picture of the Mount of Olives for this devotion. This is where Jesus would have been telling His disciples, “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” (Mark 9:23). How powerful for Jesus to be standing on top of the mountain, telling the disciples to make that mountain move by faith! This statement is a call back to Zechariah 14 of making the Mount of Olives into a level plain — a prediction for the coming judgment day. He is urging His disciples to be ready for His death and resurrection that will happen in a few short days. I wonder how our faith compares. I haven’t moved any mountains lately! How about you?


            In the final section of today’s passage, the religious leaders aren’t seeking an answer when they are questioning Jesus. They are seeking to get a rise out of Jesus, trying to outrage Him. They are also seeking to keep their status and power as a member of the religious elite, the smartest of those in the Jewish faith. Jesus gives them every opportunity to believe in Him and to say that John the Baptist was the messenger to come before the Messiah. But by admitting this, they would have to come down from their status and power and accept humility, which they refuse to do. Today, let us be able to step back and see the fault in the religious leaders’ thinking and allow it to change our hearts and minds as we work to do what Jesus calls us to do.

 

Questions:

  1. Would Jesus look at your life and declare it “righteous”? If not, ask God to show you today how He can lead you to the righteous path.

  2. Do you feel that your faith is so strong that it can move mountains? If not, perhaps this could be your prayer today, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

  3. Do you focus on brown nosing to the “right” group instead of serving those who most need our help? Do you focus on loving your neighbor or on what your neighbor thinks of you?

 

Prayer:

Dear God, Please show me the righteous path for my life. Please help me overcome my unbelief and give me greater faith. Please help show me how to love my neighbor as You would have me love them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

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