Read: Mark 11:1-33
Centering Verse: So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:24)
- Why is Jesus so hard on the fig tree and the Temple workers?
- Why did the crowd’s reactions frighten the chief priests and the scribes?
- Why is forgiveness so important to our experience of prayer?
- What does God desire to give you through prayer?
Is this statement from the verse above the equivalent of a blank check given to us by God? Can we really just ask for anything our little hearts desire and expect to receive it signed, sealed, and delivered from heaven? If that were the case, then the merchants and money changers in the Temple would not have been driven out. After all, they were just practicing their greed (and the oppressive tactics the Temple merchants practiced to exploit the mostly poor pilgrims to Jerusalem) so that they could fulfill the desires of their hearts. What we ask of God in prayer must be in agreement with the fruitfulness of the Kingdom of God. I am not sure that enriching myself and fulfilling all my wants would promote the work of Christ in this world. Think about all this in relation to Jesus’s act of cursing the fig tree. Jesus is calling us to produce fruit fit for the Kingdom of God that will fulfill the actual hungers of the world. Jesus is entering into Jerusalem in this passage not so he can receive the praise of the crowds and be popular. He is doing so to usher in a new way of thinking and acting in the world. I imagine that even many of those who are singing “Hosanna!” (which literally means, “Save us Lord!”) as Jesus enters the holy city are thinking only of what they can gain from salvation. After all, it is one thing to join a triumphant parade alongside a king; it is another thing to stand at the foot of the cross, ready to die with a man condemned by the powers that be. Will you choose the way of fruitfulness, even if there are thorns along the path?
LORD God, who takes joy in giving us good gifts, help us to ask for the right things. May we seek those things from you which will produce the fruit of the Spirit within us. Amen.