Join us this week as we look toward the cross and the empty tomb– Jesus’ death and resurrection. Our posts this week will follow some of the events leading up to Good Friday and Easter Sunday, as well as explore what these events and their implications mean to us. It all points to Jesus. When we read many of the things Jesus said in the days before His death and resurrection, we see right morals and hard truths that we can easily apply to our own lives, but as Pastor John O. said in his sermon on Sunday, the Gospels we find these words in were written so we could know who Jesus is. The lessons Jesus teaches along the way are important, but they don't stand alone. They stand on the foundation of who Jesus is and what He came to do. We know that Jesus' sights were set on Jerusalem and what would take place there in just a few days. Even as He taught these people along the way, He was focused on the sacrifice He would make for them and the victory He would achieve for them.
One of the conversations Jesus has with His disciples (Mark 11:20-25) during this time is about Jesus cursing a fruitless fig tree one day, and then coming back the next day and finding the tree withered. Jesus' response to His disciples' amazement at this transformation is a call for faith.
Jesus tells the disciples that if they have real faith, they will be able to move mountains (not just move them, but pick them up and throw them into the sea). Then He tells them that if they have faith in prayer, they will receive what they ask for. And as they are praying, they should be forgiving anyone who has wronged them.
Justin Taylor and Andreas Köstenberger write, "Jesus is reminding them that failing to forgive looms as a bigger obstacle to answered prayer than a mountain. The disciples will soon face great challenges to their faith and their ability to forgive."
Jesus is not just setting His disciples up to be good guys. He's setting them up to remember that He will be with them even when He's no longer physically with them. Their faith can't waver when Jesus is no longer on earth with them. Their trust in God and their readiness to forgive will all be important aspects of their post-crucifixion/resurrection/ascension lives. They would face persecution, fear, humiliation, abandonment, rejection, spiritual warfare, and even death. Jesus wanted them to be able to look back to that withered fig tree and remember the audacious faith Jesus said they could have. With Jesus, they saw Him do the impossible. But even after His sandals were no longer kicking up dust as they walked together through Israel, they could still see Him do the impossible. He would still be with them. And that was what they would have to believe. That's what they did believe.
And we believe that God is with us, too. So let's pray those audacious prayers made possible by the God who was with us on the cross and at the Sunday sunrise, and is with us today.