If you have your Bibles let me invite you to open with me to the book of Mark chapter 11.
We are going to begin reading with part of the passage that we covered last week and then we will continue on to our new text for study this morning.
If its your first time here this morning we want to welcome you.
We are so glad that you are here joining us.
We are not doing anything very different this morning because it is easter.
In fact, every Sunday is what Christians have historically called the Lord’s Day.
Every Sunday, we gather together to celebrate
a resurrected Jesus,
a living Jesus,
and active Jesus.
a Jesus who has spoken and is speaking.
We are continuing to do what we do every week....
and that is read through books of the Bible verse by verse to understand and obey what God has said there.
In fact…, we have been journeying through this book… the gospel of Mark since last easter.
One year ago today, on Easter Sunday we began our study of the gospel of Mark with a sermon on the opening verse.
This is what we looked at on Easter one year ago.
That opening verse told us very clearly who the main character is in this story and what it is we aim to learn about him.
This book is a book about Jesus…
It was written that we might know why Jesus came and why his coming is “good news”
It was written that we might know that Jesus is the “Christ” or in other words why he is the one to fulfill all the promises of God.... why is King of the Kingdom of God.
It was written that we might know that Jesus was not just a good teacher.
He was not just a miracle worker.
He was not just a historical figure.
Jesus was and is the Divine Son of God....
He is God in human flesh who came specifically to die on a cross for the sins of the world and on the third day rise again as conqueror over both sin and death itself.
Everything about the gospel of Mark has been leading us to see Jesus in this light.
We have seen Jesus exert his authority over everything in creation:
He has wielded authority over truth
over the metaphysical world, feeding thousands with miracle bread From heaven.
He has revealed himself on a mountain to be the shining glory of God’s presence on earth.
Most recently in the story though… Jesus has acted in a way that exerted his authority not just over the natural world…
but over the very religious structures instituted by God himself in the earliest books of the Old Testament.
In Mark 11 verse 15.... Jesus enters the temple in Jerusalem.
That is what we studied last week… and thats where we begin reading this morning.
The temple was designed by God in the Old Testament to be the place of worship.
It was to be the place that you drew near to God.
It was to be a place of prayer.
It was to be a place where the glory of God was seen and experienced through the whole worship system God had put into place...
But that is not what Jesus saw upon entering the temple.
Rather, Jesus saw God being ignored entirely in the name of religion.
He saw religious people exploiting the poor and the needy.
Religious leaders were heavily taxing people and selling at high prices animals for sacrifice in the temple.
Worship was happening… but it was not worship of God..
It was worship of man, of money, of comfort, and convenience.
Though all things were being done in the name of God… God was not the object of their worship.
and Jesus was outraged.
He flipped tables.... poured out the coins being exchanged… drove out the animals being sold.
Jesus as the Divine Son of God declared judgment over the temple....the Earthly and physical house of God...
and as God often does…, Jesus symbolized that coming judgment of the temple with a physical sign that his disciples would remember ...
Jesus passed by a fig tree and though it looked like it had fruit…, Jesus found that it was fruitless..
He rebuked the tree… and then the next day it was discovered that the the tree was withered away down to the roots.
At the word of Jesus’ lips the tree was destroyed.
It was a symbol of Jesus’ authority to both pronounce judgment on the fruitless hypocrisy of the temple… and to accomplish its destruction.
Jesus was going to bring an end to the temple and its religious hypocrisy…
In fact later in Mark 13 Jesus will make that very clear.
The fig tree was a picture of the power and authority of Jesus’ word over even the largest and most important religious structure in the world....
Like a fruitless fig tree withered to the roots… the temple would be torn down.
Jesus… the Son of God… has the authority to build up and He has the authority to tear down… that which pretends to be religious, but reality denies God in their religion.
Now… We turn our attention this morning to teaching that at first seem out of place.
We turn our attention to some object lessons Jesus wants his disciples to walk away with....
having witnessed the corruption of the temple…
and having witnessed the power and authority of Jesus in the fig tree symbol.
Jesus’ disciples are amazed with the sign of the withering fig tree, and then Jesus says this…
Truth #1 God is the Focus of Our Faith
This was one of the failures of the Jewish temple.
What was once constructed to be a place where God was praised, trusted, and prayed to…
had over time lost its focus on the whole reason for the structure in the first place.
Remember what Jesus had said the whole purpose of the temple was.
The temple was meant to be a place where people drew near to God whom they had put their trust in.
and over time in turned into something else entirely.... and in the end it would be destroyed.
The religious activity of the temple had simply become a means to another end other than God.
Now…, as Jesus’ disciples are amazed by the seemingly small miracle of the fig tree…
Jesus wants to refocus their attention...
Believe in God.
Have Faith in God.
He is the reason behind the temple.
He is the reason behind the miracle.
He is the object… the focal point… the center… of all our believing.., and all our hoping…, and all our trusting..
He exists whether you want to believe in him or not.
He has spoken whether you want to believe what he has said or not.
He is trustworthy whether you trust him or not.
His relevance and his existence is not contingent upon your recognition or worship.
I wonder how many of us this morning need a refocusing on the self-existent, glorious, powerful, God of the universe who stands above and behind all of our religious structures?
Why did you come to church this morning?
Why do you ever go to church?
Did you come with an awareness that the worship you were about to partake in
and the gathering you were about to engage in
is all a design of God for your communion with God and his people?
When we have prayed this morning was their an awareness that it was God to whom we were praying?
When we sang this morning… was their an awareness that there is a very alive, very active, very real God to whom we sing?
When we have read this Bible this morning, was there an awareness of the God who inspired this book and who uses this book in our lives?
In the Gospel of Mark thus far…, we have seen Jesus again and again celebrate and reward the person who has faith in the existence, ability and activity of God through Jesus.
Without belief and trust in God… you miss the blessings of God through Jesus.