Scripture reading for October 19th: Mark 11-13
In 1995 my son Marshal and I went on a study trip to Israel. We visited about 70 sites around Israel and also went to Mt. Sinai in Saudi Arabia where we traced the route of the exodus ending in Egypt. While in Israel, we visited Bethany and walked up the road and over the Mt. of Olives that went to Jerusalem. It was a walk of 2-3 miles but had some very interesting history that made this portion of scripture come alive in a different way!
In our reading today, Jesus and his disciples were staying in Bethany. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived in Bethany and Jesus often stayed with them. They had come to Jerusalem to prepare for Passover week when all Jewish men were required to appear before the Lord. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey as Zechariah had predicted. He was actually the final sacrifice for the last Passover ever needed! He arrived at the temple but simply looked around and left. This would have been on Sunday, the first day of the week, what we know as “Palm Sunday”.
He returned to Bethany and stayed there another night. The next morning as He walked back over the Mt. of Olives, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree, He went to find early fruit. He found none on the tree and spoke a curse over the tree, stating that no one would ever eat fruit from that tree again. He then went on to the temple and did a cleansing job there that caused quite a stir. He went back to his friends’ house for another evening. The next morning they went by the fig tree and it had withered from the roots! Peter called Jesus’ attention to the tree! (Mark 11:20-21)
Mark 11:22-25 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, that whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
Here is what we learned by walking where Jesus walked: There was a fig grove on the Mt. of Olives in 1995. From that location one could look and see Bethlehem and a place called the “Herodium” where King Herod, in the years just before Jesus walked that path, had moved a mountain! He took one hill and put it on top of another using thousands of slave laborers. In the distance you could also see the Dead Sea glistening in the valley below. When Jesus spoke that parable, He had an object lesson for his disciples! With faith in God, moving mountains is easy! But watch your heart, forgiveness is imperative!
Today, take time to meditate on these verses from Mark’s Gospel and put them into practice! Use prayer to move the mountains you face in your life! What a blessing it is to walk by faith in Jesus!