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The Result & Reward of Reflecting

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Good morning Church! I’d like to begin by thanking everyone who is joining with us this Easter morning. I hope this message finds each of you well. For those who may be joining us for the first time today, over the last couple weeks we have been looking at some of the events that unfolded during the last week of our Lords life and I want to continue on with that process today.
Now I know that today is the day we have set aside as Resurrection Sunday and most folks are probably going to be preaching a Resurrection message today but if you will remember, when we started doing everything online I mentioned that what I’d like for us to do here at New Home is look through the final week of Jesus life and the events that unfolded there until we are able to come together again and at that time we will finalize this journey with a Resurrection message and Celebrate Resurrection Sunday together!
With that being said, I do want to take a moment as begin here this morning to say this…Christianity exists because of the resurrection! Without the resurrection our Lord and Savior still remains in the grave and becomes nothing more than a mere prophet like every other religion! The resurrection is what sets us apart from every other religion in the World! Paul said it like this in...
1 Corinthians 15:12-2012 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
This is one of my favorite passages in all of Paul’s writings! He says if Christ hasn’t been raised from the dead then we are in our sins and all those who have believed in Christ and died have perished! Then he says, “if in this like only we have hope in Christ, we of all men are most miserable!”
What he’s saying here is this...if Christ never rose from the grave then the only hope we have in Him is in this life and what good is that going to do because if He didn’t rise from the grave then we’re not going to rise from the grave and if that’s the case then that means this life is all that matters and if this life is all that matters and there’s no hope of a life to come then what good is life! With no hope of a resurrection we are miserable!
But praise be to God, he follows that up with this statement… “But now is Christ risen from the dead!” He says, “Christ is risen from the dead!” How could he say this with all confidence? How could he make this claim with no doubt in his mind?
Because Paul met our resurrected Savior one on one on that road to Damascus and it changed his life forever! Think about it… what else would cause a man who had set out to persecute Christians to turn and begin defending them? What else would cause a man who claimed Christ was a fake and fraud to do a 180 and then start preaching the Lordship of the very person he once condemned! What would cause a man to give his life for a faith in a risen savior who he once claimed was a phony?
The only explanation is that this man had a divine intervention with the one who he didn’t believe in and this divine intervention caused him to repent which brought about a change of heart which then brought about a change of mind which in turn brought about a change in his actions!
That’s why Paul could say, “But now is Christ risen from the dead!” He met the resurrected Savior and it changed his life forevermore and my prayer this morning is that if you are tuning in and you have never met Jesus, my prayer is that you would have a divine run in with Him today through this message, just as Paul did on that road to Damascus, and that your life would also be gloriously changed forevermore!
I pray that if God speaks to your heart through today’s services, you, like Paul, would submit to God’s call upon your life and respond to His call just as Paul did by saying… “Lord what would you have me do?”
The Bible says that if you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, then you will be saved! And as Paul said of Jesus there at the very end… “he became the firstfruits of them that slept” one day when you draw your last breath on this side of eternity, if you have put your trust in Jesus, you too shall be resurrected and live with Him forevermore!
Now that we have touched on the resurrection, if you have your Bibles with you, turn with me if you will to the Book of Mark Chapter 11 and we are going to be picking up here in Verse 12 and reading down through Verse 19 at a message I entitled… “The Result & Reward of Reflecting.”
Now there are two events that we are going to be looking at today: First is the Cursing of the Fig Tree and the Second is the Cleansing of the Temple. But before we get in too deep let’s take a moment and recap how we got to this point.
In John Chapter 11 God’s word told us that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead and because of this great miracle, this Jewish leaders and basically put the word out that if anyone knew where Jesus was they were to tell them so that they could apprehend him.
Little did they know that they wouldn’t have to wait very long before Jesus would come and find them! John Chapter 12 picks up with Jesus returning to Bethany to enjoy a meal with Mary, Martha and Lazarus at Simon the Leper’s house. May anoints Jesus with her most prized possession and they spend the night in Bethany. The next morning, word gets out that Jesus is back in town and all the people come out to see the one who raised Lazarus from the dead. This is the day we know as Palm Sunday.
Jesus leaves Simon the Leper’s house and makes His way to Jerusalem with great hordes of people in front of and behind Him crying out “Hosanna; blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!” The Bible records in Marks gospel that He “entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when He had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, He went out unto Bethany with the twelve.”
And this is where we’ll be picking up this morning. Mark Chapter 11 Verse 12.

The Examination Process(Vs. 12-14)

Now, there are 3 things I want us to look at this morning. First is the Examination Process, Second is the Eviction Notice and lastly, the End Result.
Now there are 3 things about the Examination Process I want look at briefly. First is the Craving of Jesus.

The Craving of Jesus(Vs. 12)

Our story begins here with Jesus and the disciples returning to Jerusalem the day after our Lord’s triumphal entry. They have spent the night in Bethany again but the Bible doesn’t specify where. One commentator made the remark we know it wasn’t at Mary, Martha and Lazarus’s house for Martha was to great hostess to allow Jesus and his disciples to leave hungry!
Some say they spent the night on the Mount of Olives where more than likely Jesus spent the night in prayer with God the Father. This would make sense as Jesus was probably asking the Father for strength and guidance during what was about to be the most trying week of His life.
But where they spent the night is neither here nor there. All the Bible records is that Jesus and His disciples were in the way going back to Jerusalem the following morning and Jesus was hungry!
He’s craving something to eat and off in the distance He sees a fig tree with leaves on it. Now in order to understand what’s taking place here, that minute detail that this fig tree had leaves on it is very definitive!
You see, the middle eastern fig trees would start bearing fruit in early spring but the fruit wouldn’t be completely ripe until nearer the summer. Nevertheless, the figs could be eaten even before they were fully ripe. But the key piece of information lies in the fact that these fig trees would normally begin bearing fruit before they would put on their leaves.
So, when Jesus sees this fig tree with an abundant amount of leaves on it, it only stood to reason that it would have plenty of fruit! So, He makes His way over to this fig tree to hopefully fulfill His craving with some figs!
Now this brings us to the next section… The Canvassing of the Fig Tree.

The Canvassing of the Fig Tree(Vs. 13)

Jesus gets to this big, beautiful fig tree that is flourishing with leaves expecting to get some breakfast but something is wrong. As He begins canvassing the tree for fruit He finds nothing! Branch by branch He’s looking and searching for some figs but finds nothing but leaves!
Although the tree had the appearance that it would be full of fruit, after careful examination, there was none to be found!
Now, as I began to ponder on this event this week, I want to share with you what was placed on my heart. Jesus, the evening before, had made his way into the temple and looked around upon all things and no doubt what He had seen was still fresh upon His mind.
You see, the Leaders of Jerusalem had all the religion a person could want. They knew the law and followed it to a "T". They were in Church every time the doors were open. Jesus said they love the uppermost rooms and chief seats in the synagogues.
They weren't like us back row baptists. When we go into Church we fill the back pews up first and then work our way to the front but these Pharisees did right the opposite! They wanted to be on the front row and they wanted to be in highest, most prized seats available!
They wore their robes, cloaks, headdresses and phylacteries. They made their prayers in the streets for all to see. To everyone around, the Chief Priests, Scribes, Pharisees & Sadducees were as religious as they come but little did they know they were missing something!
They had all the religion a person could ask for but they were producing no fruit! They were like this fig tree that Jesus comes in contact with here! It was all for show! It looked good from afar, it had big beautiful leaves which one would think would bring about an abundance of fruit but upon closer inspection there was a fruit deficiency!
Now, the reason there was a fruit deficiency when it came to the leaders of the Jews, was because there was a deficiency in their relationship to God! They were more worried about being seen than they were serving God and producing fruit for Him!
And as I was thinking about this and studying over it this thought came to my many Christians today fall into this same category! You see them out in town or run into them during the week and you would think they are the most religious people you know. They look nice, they talk nice, they may even throw a little scripture out here or there in casual conversation.
Now lets take it a step see them on Sunday morning at Church, they don't fill in the back pews first but rather they make their way to the front of the Church, they want the best positions offered in the Church where they'll be seen the most, and you the majority of people they look like they got it all going on but one of these days when Jesus comes and he's the one doing the inspecting...the question I'd like to know the answer to is He going to find any fruit on their tree?
Now let''s point the finger back in our own direction and ask the same question...when Jesus comes and does a personal inspection on our lives what's He going to find? Is He going to find just a bunch of leaves or is He going to find some fruit to satisfy His hunger and make Him happy proud?
You see, it's not about looking a certain way or doing a certain thing or being seen. It's about taking what God has given to you and doing what you can with it! Jesus would rather have come into contact with a tree with no leaves and every branch hanging full of fruit, than a tree full of leaves with no fruit!
The Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, Chief Priests and leaders of the Jews had turned the worship of God into a show...Jesus said, "this people honoureth me with their lips but their heart is far from me!" They had Religion but no Relationship!
He told the Scribes and Pharisees in Matt. 23:27 — ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward but within are full of dead men's bones and of all uncleanness!
This morning, before we move on, there is one thing you must order to produce the kind of fruit Jesus is looking for, you have to be rooted in Jesus!
In John Chapter 15 Jesus said... "4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned."
If you don't know Jesus this morning friend, you can produce all the man made works you'd like but it will never be the kind of fruit that satisfies the hunger of our Lord! But Jesus said, "He that abideth in me and I in him, the same shall bring forth much fruit!
The Bible says in...
1 Corinthians 11:28a — “But let a man examine himself”
and then a few verses later it says...
1 Corinthians 11:31For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
i want to encourage you this morning to take a look at your life which is representative of this fig tree and do some personal reflecting.
Is your fig tree barren or does it have some fruit hanging on it? Maybe it has a little but you want more! How do you get more? You abide in Jesus! 
The word abide means to remain continually, a continuous presence, not to depart, to endure and remain as one! You want to produce more fruit? Then remain in constant communion with Jesus! Abide in His presence and you'll have no need to worry about being found without fruit when the Lord comes for His inspection!
So we see the Canvassing of the Fig Tree and then we finish up our Examination Process with the Cursing of the Fig Tree.

The Cursing of the Fig Tree(Vs. 14)

Jesus, upset with the deception of the fig tree, curses it and says no man shall ever eat fruit from it again! Then the Bible records that the disciples heard it. Now this is going to come into play for next week’s message but if you look ahead a little bit you will find that in the morning on their way back to Jerusalem, Peter notices that same fig tree and it is now dried up and withered away!
Now the thing I want you to keep in mind about this for this week is this…Jesus said if a man abide not in me He is cast forth as a branch and is withered and men gather them and cast them into the fire and they are burned.
To me this fig tree is a symbol of what happens to those who don’t know Jesus as Lord and Savior. Those who aren’t rooted in Him. Those who are more concerned with what people see on the outside rather than what God sees on the inside!
The people who are representative of this fig tree are lost and unless they change their ways before drawing their last breath, they will die lost and undone in their sins and eventually just like those branches that bare no fruit will be cast into the fire where the worm dieth not and there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth!
I say the same to you this morning as Paul said to the Corinthians…
2 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT2) — Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.
So we see the Examination Process now let’s look at the Eviction Process

The Eviction Process(Vs. 15-19)

The Cleansing of the Temple(Vs. 15-16)

So Jesus and His disciples make their way on into the Jerusalem and the first thing Jesus does is enter the temple and the Bible says He began to cast out those who bought and sold in the temple and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of them that sold doves. It says that He wouldn’t even allow anyone to bring a vessel of any sort through the temple!
Now most scholars say this all took place in the outer gentile court. As the Jews would come to Jerusalem to make their yearly sacrifices many would have to travel a very long distance and so it was easier for them to just purchase their sacrifice once they got there which was guaranteed to pass the priest’s inspection instead of bringing their own and having the possibility of the priests denying it. The problem with this was, the Chief Priests had made a business out of it and it’s been recorded that they would charge people sometimes as much as 10x what the sacrifice would normally cost! Who do you think the extra was going to? The Chief Priests were getting rich off of the temple sacrifices!
Then, they not only had to offer sacrifices, but they had to pay the temple tax which had to be in Jewish currency. This is where the money changers come into play. For the people who traveled from far away and may not have that exact currency, the money changers would exchange their money for the proper kind which would be accepted. Here’s the thing about them though…I read where one person stated that they would charge as high as a 25% increase on the exchange of currency! Part of this extra money no doubt was also going to the Chief Priests.
The problem was all this was taking place inside the outer court of the temple and it infuriated Jesus!
He not only Cleanses the temple of all the wrong that was going on but then He Chastises the Chief Priests and Scribes for what they were allowing to take place!

The Chastising of the Chief Priests and Scribes(Vs. 17-18)

He says in Verse 17, “Is it not written my house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but you have made it a den of thieves!”
Listen, you need to see the birds eye view of what’s taking place here! There are thousands of people passing through this gentile court going in and out of the inner courts and all of a sudden Jesus walks in and commences to flipping tables and telling people to leave!
The people selling sacrifices and exchanging money don’t know what to do besides leave so they grab their sacrifices and take money and take off! Everyone else is looking at each other in total surprise wondering what’s happening and then the Chief Priests come rushing in wondering what’s going on undoubtedly saying to Jesus… “what are doing? who do you think you are?”
At this point Jesus says, “Look around! Look at what you have done to my Father’s house! It is supposed to be a house of prayer for all nations but you have turned it into den of thieves! The gentiles can’t even worship my Father for all the junk you have going on in their court! There’s no way they can focus on worshiping God for all the trading that is taking place!”

The Clinging of the People(Vs. 18b)

The onlookers are startled and can’t believe what’s taking place but they like it! Undoubtedly they understood the heresies that were taking place by all the up-charges for sacrifices and the changing of money but were scared to say or do anything about it!
The Chief Priests and Scribes are caught off guard! Their tongue tied and at a loss of words! They can’t believe what’s happening and don’t know how to react because they know that what Jesus is accusing them of is true! They don’t know what to do!
And the more Jesus teaches, the worse it gets for the Chief Priests and Scribes because every onlooker around is now making their way closer and closer to hear the words coming from His lips!
Before you know it, there is a huge crowd gathered around! They have come from the inner courts of the temple and the onlookers passing by have now stopped to hear what this man has to say and they are hanging on to His every word!
Now, I want to pause for a second here and give you something that stood out to me when I was studying for this…notice where Jesus commences His teaching! He’s still in the gentile court! He could have made His way to the inner courts where only the Jews are allowed but no, He wanted everyone to be able to hear His teaching!
And notice what Mark’s gospel says here… “is it not written my house shall be called of all nations a house of prayer!” Jesus quotes this from Isaiah from Isaiah 56:7 but it stands out to me for the fact that Jesus wanted everyone to know God’s house was for Jew and Gentile alike!
When Jesus died on Calvary’s cross He died for all who would believe upon Him! His blood was shed for you no matter what color, creed or nationality you are!
Then, notice what the Bible says next there. It says the Chief Priests and Scribes sought how they might destroy him for they feared him because all the people were astonished at His teaching!
Now, we can take this simply as it’s written but I believe there is also a spiritual lesson to be learned here. You see, the Bible says Jesus entered the temple and cleansed it right? And if you will remember, this message is a bout reflecting and examining ourselves, right?
Well, do you know what else is referred to as a temple? The Bible says in...
1 Corinthians 6:19-2019 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
These fleshly bodies of ours are a temple for the Holy Ghost which is in us and since that’s the case, the thought I had was this…like the Jewish leaders who had allowed all this garbage to enter the temple of God, what kind of garbage have we allowed to enter the temple of our lives?
Is the Holy Ghost happy to be residing in your temple or like the people selling sacrifices and the money changers are there some things in your life that need to go? Are there some things that are standing between you and God and causing a strain on your relationship to Him?
Ask yourself this, if Jesus were standing here right now what would He cast out of the temple of my life? What would He forbid to pass through?
Cause you see, the Bible says right there that we are bought with a price and that price was the blood of Christ and therefore our temple exists for one reason and one reason only and that is to glorify God in our body!
Our temple is meant to accomplish the same thing the temple has always existed for to glorify God! Which brings us to our last point which is the End Result.

The End Result

John 15:8-11 (KJV) — 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. 9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
Jesus says if we want to glorify God, the best way to do that is to bear much fruit! And He goes on to say that if we are bearing fruit, that in turn will lead to the glorifying of the Father and if these two things are taking place, notice what the result and reward will be…our joy will be full!
Now, I don’t know about you but sometimes, when we’re going through certain circumstances, joy can seem to be a hard thing to find. But I believe if it seems that way it’s probably because we’re not producing fruit and because we’ve allowed something to come into our lives that’s separating us from God.
You see, the Bible says in Isaiah Isaiah 26:3Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
This morning, as we come to a close, I want you to take an account of your life. Is your life like the fig tree we looked at in the beginning; it has plenty of leaves and looks good to everyone around but there’s no fruit being produced? Or would Jesus find plenty of fruit on your branches if He came to examine your life?
And then, I want you to think of your life as an illustration of the temple. What have you allowed in your temple that doesn’t need to be there? If Jesus were to come visit with you for a week or so what would He cast out of your life? What is keeping you from experiencing the joy that Christ has for you?
You see, Jesus died so that we might have life and not just any life but an abundant life! Are you experiencing that abundant life today? If not, what is keeping you from experiencing it? Come while there’s time!
Isaiah 55
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