October 14, 2018 10:30 AM
Rev. Jeremy B. Stopford, Pastor

TODAY’S “SPECIAL”: “At the Pearly Gates”
Three people die – a doctor, a school teacher and the CEO of a large health insurance company. When met at the Pearly Gates by St. Peter, he asks the doctor, ‘What did you do in your life?’
The Doctor replied, ‘I healed the sick and if they could not pay I would do it for free.’ St. Peter told the Doctor, ‘You may go in.’
St. Peter then asked the teacher what she did. She replied, ‘I taught educationally challenged children.’ St. Peter then told her ‘You may go in.’
At last, he asked the third man, ‘What did you do?’ The man hung his head and replied, ‘I ran a large health insurance company.’ To which St. Peter replied, ‘You may go in, but you can only stay 3 days.’

We all have been there. Dad comes home from work, and mom says to him, “You better check out what your child did today.” And he does, and he tenderly calls you to him. He says, “Get over here! What were you thinking?”. It’s one thing when a parent, whether well-meaning or not, says those dreaded words. But what if while one of us is reading the Bible we find ourselves asking, “Lord Jesus, what were You thinking?”. Mark Chapter 11 creates such a scene. Let’s ask God’s blessings on our study. PRAYER

We are all familiar with Passion Week, and this is it. The final days before the death, burial, and resurrection of our Savior. At the start of that week is the well-known in all of our churches, Palm Sunday. We love to see little kids wave their newly given palm leaves. It’s a fun day. But why does it even take place? What was Jesus thinking about making a big deal about a colt?
First, look at verse 1. Our Savior is instructing two of His disciples to go find a colt. Did you notice the description: “which no one has ever ridden”. I rode horses when I was a kid at camp. Some of you ride on a regular basis. And there is one thing you know: you just don’t hop on an unbroken horse and take it for a leisurely, purposeful ride. But this Rider is no usual Rider. The Son of Man Who came not to be served is on display – in particular before Jerusalem. He is presenting Himself to them as their King. Will they receive Him? Have you and I?
Second, and this is neat to me, look at the Savior’s command. In essence, these disciples are to go grab a tied colt. Now I don’t know how much colts cost. But I imagine a fir piece. Furthermore, it costs a lot to maintain a colt, from the time it is young to adulthood. Remember the stories of out west? One’s horse was one’s most prized possession. Yet these disciples are to go to a colt and untie it. And take it. And say to anyone who questions what they are doing, “the Lord has need of him.” Perhaps the Savior had made arrangements with the owner at some previous unwritten encounter. But the point is this: does the Lord have free reign (and that’s the right word, isn’t it?)over all our stuff, even our most prized possessions? He did concerning this colt.
Third, look at verse 4. Our NIV says “found a colt outside in the street.” Even the NKJV says, “outside in the street”. But the KJV is on the mark here with its interesting commentary: “they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met”. To further His presentation, even at the first day of the Passion Week, the Scriptures remind both the Jews and us that our Savior is always at the crossroads of life. Always. It’s either His road or the wrong road. Once again, life offers many choices, and the Savior wants first choice.
Finally, look at verses 9-10. What did the crowd shout? And why? “Hosanna!…Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David.” Quoting from Psalm 118:25-26, the crowd unwittingly presented some huge realities! Using the classic scripture that was inspired by the One riding before them (think about that for a minute!), they recognized some amazing truths: “Hosanna” – He saves! “The coming kingdom” – before them is the King of the true kingdom, an eternal kingdom and not an earthly one. Implied with that is the realization that one day the Savior will sit upon the throne in Jerusalem – as promised by both the Old Testament and especially as seen in the book of Revelation. But further the crowd says an amazing thing, “kingdom of our father David”. They were recognizing that riding before them was the promised descendent of David – elsewhere called “his Son” – Who alone is the rightful heir to David’s throne.
John 1 says “He came unto His own”. You know what He will hear just a few days later: “crucify Him! Crucify Him!”. They received Him not. Have you?

We are all familiar with verse 15 and the verses which follow. They show that the “next day” Jesus returns to Jerusalem, goes into the temple, and makes havoc. He overturns the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. History would teach us that these were “making merchandise”, that is, they were trying to make a profit from travelers who were excitedly coming to the temple, but did not have the right coins and the right animals for the offerings. And we are familiar that this is the second visit the Savior had made to the temple where he would wreak havoc with these same scripture violators.
So then what was He thinking, as described in verse 11, about his brief visit to the temple there?
What does He do in this scene? It is the day before He comes into the temple to show that the Lord of the temple was standing right before them. He enters the building. Then He looks around – “at everything” the verse says. He didn’t miss a thing. He saw the weary travelers being the first of the proverbial ones to be sheistered. He saw the money changers, and those selling animals at an enormous overabundance, simply so that those same travelers could fulfill their scriptural duties. He looks around. Walks out. Does nothing. Or did He do nothing? What was He thinking?
He was thinking one word in action: grace. Remember, the purpose of this visit is for the true center of the spiritual world to see its Savior. The Servant Who came to serve. And to give His live a ransom for many. As He would do in John 13 in the washing of the disciples’ feet, He showed grace in His service. He was offering grace to those in the temple. He was on display, that the Lord of the temple was right before them. That their most unbiblical deeds were not going unnoticed by the Lord that these gainsayers were ignoring.
And in turn, He was showing us grace. He was reminding us that we, too, need those extra moments when we need to re-think our purposes, our actions, our casual views at the lusts of life, whether physical or material. And we need to remember, Jesus sees. He is hurt. He could be crying. Because the child for Whom He would die is living as if He did not exist.
That is grace. And an invitation to “come unto Him just as we are.” (Matthew 11:28). And to believe the promise: “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9).

# 3 WHAT’S UP WITH THE FIG TREE STORY? (vs. 12-14; vs. 20-23)
Here is the most amazing account of the 3 given in this chapter! So just what was Jesus thinking when He cursed some poor fig tree, and then uses the opportunity the next day to give a lesson in faith and prayer? Just what was He thinking?
First of all, I know nothing, zilch, zippo about figs. I don’t really know what they look like. I’m sure I’ve never eaten one. And I don’t know how one is grown. So…I looked it up. I read an account by Ray Stedman, a long-time pastor who is now with the Lord. When he first moved to California, he decided that he, too, was curious about the fig trees account. So he knew the soil was good. The weather was good. Where he lived in California was the choice place to raise fig trees – just so that he could learn what the Savior was trying to teach His disciples.
And this is what Pastor Stedman found. The trees grew wonderfully! And then then grew fruit wonderfully. So he was so proud. He went out into his fig tree garden and picked one of the first figs. And he took a bite. And the fruit was absolutely, deliciously … awful! So he gave up on his figs. Until…
A short time later, the trees grew new fruit. So with fear and trembling, the ambitious pastor picked another fruit. And he tasted it. And it was…absolutely delicious! What made the difference?
He learned that fig trees have a first fruit, a fruit that is designed to shed the trees foreign “stuff”. And after they do that, then they are prepared to grow ripe fruit. And here we go…Pastor Stedman had to trust that the final fruit was going to be good. He had to have faith that the tree would produce what its Divine Author had designed it to produce.
And that is exactly what happened here in Mark 11. Only the fig tree wasn’t just an example of how to grow trees. It was an example of what the Savior is going to accomplish in Israel. “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not”. Those who rejected Him would never be part of the fruit, the kingdom. But one day, as Zechariah 12:10 wonderfully exclaims, “they will look on Me, the One they have pierced, and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for Him as one grieves for a firstborn Son.” Can you taste that day? They will as a nation receive the Lord Jesus as their Messiah and crown Him King of kings, and He will take His place on the Throne of David in Jerusalem. And He will rule and reign, fulfilling all the Abrahamic promises of what Israel is hungry for!
THAT”S what Jesus was thinking!

As we wrap this up, just remember the lesson at the end of the story. Jesus told His disciples to “have faith in God” and be people of prayer. He hungered to fulfill their hunger – and our hunger as well – for an intimacy with Him.
But please – please! – don’t overlook His last word of guidance found in verse 25. When you’re praying, enjoying that intimacy with your Savior, don’t be surprised that He interrupts your prayer time with some words of challenge, of rebuke, of reminder of perhaps the most heinous sin of all: having something against a fellow brother (or sister) in Christ. What did He say to do? FORGIVE! And the mountains of life, the obstacles to true faith and intimacy with the Savior, will be moved, beginning with those created within the heart.
And THAT’S what Jesus was thinking!

Close in prayer

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.