Saturday in the Twenty-Third Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 21:18-22; Mark 11:19-25; Luke 21:37-38

Matters of Faith

A few days ago, we took up our Lord’s cursing of a fig tree when he discovered it had no fruit to offer.  We understood that the fig tree was a symbol of the Jewish nation; that is, one that looked glowing on the outside but on the inside was rotten to the core, at least among the leaders.  And the proof of this was the unlawful arrest, mock trial, and ultimate crucifixion of Jesus.  They did not know the very Messiah whom they said they were expecting and their own Scriptures prophesied; “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:11).  This in no way justifies the despicable sin of anti-Semitism; after all, the Gentiles didn’t receive him either.  Christ died to save both Jew and Gentile, and to bring us together into the one body of Christ, the Church (Ephesians 2:14).

Today’s lesson takes up that same fig tree but teaches a different lesson.  The disciples are amazed to see that the fig tree has withered to its roots. When they exclaim the fact to Jesus, he turns the discussion to the issue of faith.  Now, the fig tree becomes a symbol of what a man or woman of faith can do.  Jesus even adds, “Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.”  My Bible notes tell me that “moving a mountain” was a metaphor in Jewish literature for doing what was seemingly impossible” (ESV Study Bible), which seems a sound interpretation.  Jesus then takes this metaphor and applies it to prayer, “Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

A faithful person of God will understand these words in the context of the whole Bible.  For instance, Jesus adds just after this that when we pray, we must forgive others as we have been forgiven.  1 John 5:14-15 tells us that we must ask “according to his will.”  It is not my intention to water down what our Lord is saying here, only to remind the immature that Jesus gives no one a blank check to ask for anything he wants (like a Ferrari), and to remind the mature that we know of times when we have prayed, say, for the healing of a loved one, and it did not come to pass.  Still, our God wants us to pray with faith, believing that He is a God who desires to bless His children.  We may doubt ourselves – indeed, we should – but we should not doubt our loving Father, for it is His good pleasure to give us the Kingdom (Luke 12:32), and to give us ever more of His Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13).  So cry out, “Help thou mine unbelief,” and pray to your loving Father.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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