This past Sunday, we journeyed with Jesus and his disciples into Jerusalem. It was Palm Sunday, the celebration of The Entrance of the Servant King. This comment from the ESV Study Bible is a nice summation of the scene in Mark 11:1-11…
The Triumphal Entry takes place at the beginning of Passover week, which recalls the Jewish people’s liberation from Egyptian slavery; the pilgrims now anticipate the messianic liberation from Rome’s oppression. The claims of the disciples are ultimately true, but it will not be Rome that is defeated now but Satan, sin, and death. All enemies of righteousness will one day see the authority of Messiah.
Listen to the audio of The Entrance of the Servant King.
When someone is confronted with truth that challenges them to change what they believe or how they act, they often fake ignorance to avoid the reality facing them. Or they claim, “I can’t” when what they really mean is “I won’t”. That was the response of the religious leaders in Mark 11:27-33.
When Jesus gave them just two options “a” or “b” to answer his question, they chose “c”…the cowardly, “We don’t know.” Why? What do we learn from Jesus about how to deal with insincere questions and unwillingness to really change? What do we do with that in others? What do we do with that in our own hearts?
Listen to Faking Ignorance to Avoid Reality, from the series Jesus the Servant King from the Gospel of Mark.
Okay…that probably breaks all kinds of rules about acceptable length of blog titles!
Here is another nugget that didn’t make it into last Sunday’s sermon from Mark 11:12-25, this time dealing with the misuse of Jesus’ statements on prayer (vv.23-24), and is again from R.C. Sproul’s commentary on the Gospel of Mark.
The force that is at the bottom of New Age thinking is really magic, and the basis of the word of faith movement is not very different. It seizes on this statement by Jesus to assert, “Whatever you believe, if you believe it truly, you will have it.”…What’s wrong with this picture? The Bible gives us a wealth of instruction about prayer, repeatedly stressing the importance of trusting God for the answers to our prayers. Therefore, an aphoristic statement like this has to be understood in the light of all of that teaching, especially the New Testament qualifications about how God answers our prayers. Something like the word of faith movement results when we lift a verse like this out of its particular context and ignore the rest of the teaching of Scripture.
I joked yesterday that, in my preparatory study for the sermon on Mark 11:12-25, I had learned more about fig trees that I ever thought possible! Jesus uses this very common, very important tree in Jewish life to both give a warning, and make a great promise. Listen to Where False Faith Fails, True Faith Soars! from the Jesus the Servant King series.
In Mark 11:25 Jesus makes the statement: “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
That statement can raise a whole lot of questions! I did not address these in length in the sermon Sunday, so thought I’d share a great quote from R.C. Sproul that I found helpful…
…there is an analogy between our forgiveness of others’ sins and God’s forgiveness of our sins. God does not forgive us unilaterally; He requires repentance. But when we repent, He does forgive. We must do the same. If someone injures us or offends us, but then he apologizes, confesses his sin, and asks for our forgiveness, we cannot hold a grudge. If we do, we can expect the same from God. Jesus’ point is that every Christian is to be standing ready at any moment to forgive any offense if the offending person repents.
Link to the message from Mark 11:12-25, Where False Faith Fails, True Faith Soars.
It was J.C. Ryle, in a previous generation, who wrote, “The man who boasts of having a saving interest in Christ, while he does not follow Christ in his life, is a miserable self-deceiver, and is ruining his own soul.” That was one of the primary applications for us from Mark 10:46-52, where I asked the question: “What will you do when Jesus calls?” The nature of a true believer in Jesus is to cry out for his mercy, believe in him, and then to follow him!
Listen to: What Will You Do When Jesus Calls? from the Gospel of Mark Series, Jesus the Servant King.
Remember…we will be meeting for the first time at our new location this Sunday, March 15th at the Charles R. Beggs Recreation Center (Winfield Park District building). Worship @ 10am. Our passage will be Mark 11:12-25 and is titled, “Where False Faith Fails, True Faith Soars!”