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  • Writer's pictureRev. Kim Taylor

Pastor's Ponderings: Meandering through Mark 11:12-14 bible study (July 1, 2024)

July 1, 2024:  Monday Bible Study on the Gospel of Mark 11:12-14


Blessings and Peace in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ on this Monday morning.


We had a really wonderful worship opportunity yesterday. I know some of you may be concerned about the temperature in the Sanctuary on Sundays, but even with the humidity yesterday, it really wasn't too warm.  The coolers are both running at peak efficiency, and they are really doing a pretty good job. Prayers offered morning and night, and throughout the day, are always important for us too. We have a member whose dog is dying of cancer, I would ask that you pray for Teri and her dog, Butters, as they go through this end of lifetime for her much loved pet.


Today's reading from Mark presents us with a major issue. It seems totally out of character for Jesus to do what he does. A fig tree that is out of season is "cursed" by Christ because He is apparently hungry, and it has yet to produce any fruit.  The next day when He and the disciples walk by that very tree, it is dead to the roots. This so out of character act by Christ is very troubling. It seems so unworthy of the Savior. I suppose we could think that He was having a very bad day, after all, it was not long until the Passover and Christ's sacrifice on the cross.  But there were many times when Jesus was overwhelmed, and He chose to continue to teach and heal the masses who gathered around Him. Jesus was always, according to all four Gospels, sacrificing His time, His energy, and using his power for the good of His people. However, there are other possibilities for what the Savior's intent may have been. Jesus almost always taught in parables, and by examples that were more easily understood by the people, and His disciples.  This may have been one of those times. Here we might talk about the issue of promise without fulfillment. After all, His own people had been the people of God's promise, and for centuries they had failed to act faithfully within the covenant which God had made with them through Moses and the ten commandments.  King after King failed to guide the people to right worship, and to create a will to provide and care for the resident aliens and the widows and orphans in their midst, and instead, ignoring that community of people's needs, or using them to profit themselves in a variety of ways.  That promise was a part of my life, and through it I chose to grow in faith, and commit to the ministry of the Gospel, but if I had spent my life just thinking about the possibility of becoming an ordained clergy, and had never chosen to make the commitment, then the promise of my life, and the Lord’s call for me to serve His Gospel would never had been fulfilled.  How many people spend a lifetime filled with potential but never act on it? So, perhaps Christ's action is a condemnation of unfulfilled promise of His own people.


Perhaps it is the condemnation of profession with practice, or perhaps I should say the condemnation of profession with the failure of practice.  The leafy fig tree professed to be offering something, but in its practice could not fulfill what it was offering. Jesus' own people professed to be the people of God's promise and covenant, the chosen ones, BUT they failed miserably over centuries to actually fulfill their part of the covenant. The world should have been able to look to the ones who were to be the Light to the world, and yet it was mostly darkness that surrounded their actions. There is a whole part of the Church today, the Christian Nationalists, who are in the very same place. They are willing to set aside the call of Christ to Love God above all else, and to Love everyone else in the same way that they love themselves. In setting aside this promise and seeing a worldly one of wealth and power over our nation, the promise that they have made in Christ goes unfulfilled.


In Luke 12:6-9 we have a somewhat similar story of a farmer who wants to pull up an unproductive fruit tree, but instead, is encouraged, but the worker pleads for the fruit tree that it might under special care eventually produce the fruit that it was intended to produce.  This is a story of second chances and opportunity to fulfill God's place for that tree's long life. It is very different from Mark's story about the fig tree. There is in legend a story about a scrawny fruit tree on the way to Jerusalem from Bethany that Christ may have seen and related a teaching to the disciples about the people of Israel who, like that unproductive tree, had never fulfilled the promise that they had been called to, and that, like that tree, they too would become dead in the world in which their promise was to be  shared with everyone.


Every once in a while, we run into a difficult passage like this. We need to know that when something is as out of character as this one is, that there may well be some part of it that we are missing, and therefore we have trouble coming to terms with it.


Thanks for being with me today.


With Love in Christ, Pastor Kim.

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