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Believe in the Real God of Love and Wrath

Mark 11:20-22

Truth has a way of lodging in our hearts (even if we don't want it to stick) so that God can use it to challenge us in the future.  When Jesus cursed the fig tree, as a parable of how faithless Israel would be judged (Mark 11:13-14), Peter remembered.  When they went down the same road the following day, he looked out for the tree. The text indicates his surprise that it had withered overnight.

The Faith, the Prayer, and the Power

Mark 11:22-25

This passage starts with a command, "Have faith in God"!  Jesus was teaching Peter, and the other trainee apostles, not to be surprised that God's words are followed by action.  In his future role as a leader of the early church, Peter would need to speak out God's Word - and expect that God would act powerfully.  The apostolic gospel was to be one of salvation through preaching (Romans 1:16).  The key is in the kind of relationship they were to have with Jesus Christ: if they trusted Him, He would act in accordance with their faith.

The Power in Authority

Mark 11:27-30

Power may be grasped, authority has to be given.  Ultimately all authority derives from God: whether it is the right to rule a nation, to lead a family, parent a child, or serve the Lord - accountability goes directly back to God (Romans 13:1).  The dilemma for the religious leaders, was not so much the miracles that brought Jesus popular acclaim, as the right that He assumed in doing them (Luke 4:36).  Miracles could hardly warrant a death sentence but claiming a demonic or divine authority could (the demonic was clearly evil and dangerous; the divine could only be blasphemous in their eye

Truth on Trial

Mark 11:31-33

Have you noticed that when people bombard God with questions, designed to put Him under their control, He has little to say.  But when God puts men on the spot, they debate it furiously.  In their attempt to control God, they find that they are trapped. If these religious lawyers had admitted that John the Baptist had God's authority to announce Jesus as Messiah, the case against Him would immediately collapse.

Trapped by Evil

Mark 12:2-5

No business can survive if it always makes a loss.

Refusing to Honour the Son

Mark 12:6-8

The story of arrogant and abusive tenant farmers (Mark 12:1-12) comes to its next twist.  The centrepiece of the owner's policy, to recover his assets, was to send his son - the personal family representative with all the authority of the owner.  The son is described as the heir - the person who will benefit from the prosperity of the business and all the investment of his father.  But the farm labourers saw their opportunity to eliminate the inheritor and grab the owner's legacy.  So, their plan was to kill the son, which they did, even throwing his remains off the property.

Who Do You Fear?

Mark 12:9-12

This is the climax of the parable (Mark 12:1-12).

Evidence Based Faith

Mark 12:13-14

A lion may trap a gazelle and a fox may catch a rabbit, but only because they are more powerful and know how to lie in wait and stalk.  Trying to trap God is not a bright idea!  He is infinitely more powerful and knows every ambush (the Old Testament is full of such stories)!  Yet (so called) clever people still think that they can put God in a box and ship Him out of their lives: they want to find a reason for unbelief.  Such people gain popular credit and sell books by the truckload; but they are transparent and nakedly destitute before their Maker.

Hypocritical Questions

Mark 12:15-17

The Pharisees did not want to pay taxes to Caesar, but the Herodians thought it was important: and neither of them had any desire to honour Jesus as King.  So, they set a trap: if Jesus agreed with the tax, He would be discredited as God's spokesman; if He denounced the tax, it would be treason (and punishable by death).  What Jesus saw in both groups was hypocrisy – pretending to be what they were not.  He always knows when someone is a fake.