by Dr. Samuel Lee   08/19/1994     0 reads


Mar 11:20-25

Key Verse: 11:22


1. As they walked along the morning after Jesus had cleared the temple, what did Peter notice? Why was he surprised?

2. What does this event (and others in this chapter) show about the power and authority of Jesus' word? What ominous suggestion do these events give about the future? (18)

3. How did Jesus respond to Peter's amazed comment? (22) What connec­tion does this have with the withering of the fig tree at Jesus' command?

4. Read verse 23. What promise is here? What kind of things did Jesus ex­pect his disciples to do by faith? What does this mean?

5. What must we believe about God in order to have mountain-moving faith? (Think about Genesis 1 and 2; 1Co 15:20.)

6. How does mountain-moving faith challenge our human limits? Think about Mk 9:22,23; Php 4:13; Heb 11:29; other heroes of faith in Heb 11.

7. Read verse 23 again. Why does Jesus say, "does not doubt in his heart"? Where does doubt come from? How does it weaken us?

8. How can we overcome doubt? (23b) How do God's promises help us over­come doubt? (Mt 6:33)


9. Read verse 24. What is the best expression of faith? What promise does Jesus give in this verse? What must we believe about ourselves and God in order to pray?  What must we ask for in prayer?


10. Read verse 25. What is a hindrance to prayer? What must we do? Why? (25b) What did Jesus tell Peter about this on another occasion? (Mt 18:21,22) Why is it so hard to forgive others? How can we? 



Mark 11:20-25

Key Verse: 11:22

  "'Have faith in God,' Jesus answered."

Today Jesus talks with his disciples about the fig tree that with­ered overnight (20-25). In this dialogue Jesus teaches his disciples what kind of faith they must have. At this time let's pray that we may have the faith Jesus wants us to have.

I. Faith that moves mountains (20-23)

First, Jesus' power and authority (20-21). Verse 20 begins with the words, "In the morning, as they went along..." It was the second day of the Pas­sion Week. They were coming along the road back to Jerusalem. On the way, they saw the fig tree with­ered from the roots. Dur­ing the last two days Peter was amazed by many events: Jesus' or­dering the two disci­ples to bring another person's colt without permis­sion; and the two disci­ples who were sent carry­ing out the mis­sion absolutely. Peter was again amazed when Jesus cleared the temple with great authori­ty before the enven­omed religious leaders. Peter was at the point of fainting because of many amaze­ments. Peter remem­bered the event when Jesus cursed the fig tree. (21) It was a big surprise to Peter to see the fig tree Jesus had cursed with­ered from the roots overnight. This fig tree had been in beau­tiful foliage. How could it be that in the space of one night, the flour­ishing fig tree had dried up so wretch­edly to the roots!

At this time, he prob­ably thought, "Wasn't it too ruthless to curse an inno­cent fig tree like that?" Peter's dream of an earth­ly messian­ic king­dom to be estab­lished by Jesus was no longer tena­cious, since Jesus had bat­tered the mun­dane au­thorities at the temple. Peter probably thought Jesus' action was one of anoma­lous severity which would bring disas­ter upon disaster. Peter was caught by an omi­nous premo­nition of a dolorous and cadaver­ous future because Jesus had offended the religious leaders' pride by clearing the temple (18). But what really surprised him was the authority of Jesus' word. At a word of Jesus, the fig tree dried up com­pletely from the roots. In his amazement, Peter said to Jesus, "Rab­bi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!" At a word from Jesus, a fig tree in full leaf dried up from the roots. This power and authority was what Peter really want­ed to have. Peter wanted to exercise his pow­er and authority over the other disciples. But he had no power and au­thority because he had no faith.

Second, have faith in God (22,23). How did Jesus help him to have power and authority? Jesus said, "Have faith in God" (22). Jesus believed that Peter and the other disciples could have great power and authority if only they had faith in God. What kind of faith did Jesus want them to have? Look at verse 23. "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." Jesus want­ed them to have faith that moves mountains. Jesus helped them to have mountain-moving faith so that they might have power and authority. As we know, a moun­tain is char­acteris­tically im­mov­able. In time past and present, many peo­ple have writ­ten with awesome respect about moun­tains because of their lofti­ness, so­lemnity and unchange­able­ness. There is an episode about Mo­hammed. In order to dem­onstrate a miracu­lous sign be­fore the eyes of his followers, he ordered, "You mountain, come to me!" But the mountain did not move. He did not have power and authority to move the mountain, but he was wise. So Mohammed said, "Then I will go to you." Anyway, he and the mountain got together. His followers were surprised at his expediency. So they decided to follow him continuously. A mountain is too big to move. But Jesus wants his disci­ples to have faith that moves mountains. To have mountain-moving faith is the same as to have absolute faith. Hebrews 11 is the re­cord of heroes and heroines of faith. They overcame the world with moun­tain-moving faith, that is, absolute faith. Abso­luteness is the major fiat of faith.

When Jesus said, "Have faith in God," it meant, "Our God is Al­mighty God." When Jesus said, "Have faith in God," it meant, "Our God is Almighty God, so we can do nothing but he can do everything for us when we believe in him." When Jesus said, "Have faith in God," it meant, "Believe in God Al­mighty abso­lutely and see the great things God will do for you." We must believe that God made the heavens and the earth out of noth­ing. Our God is the Almighty Creator God who made the world out of nothing (Ge 1 and 2).

As we know well, in history, all men knelt down before the power of death: Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan, and all people knelt down before the power of death--some quietly, some very sorrowfully. But God raised Jesus from the dead and made him the firstfruits of eternal life (1Co 15:20). The Hebrew people believed that God is the Al­mighty God who made Aaron's dried staff sprout, bud and blossom. At first, these peo­ple were nomad peo­ple; later, they were slaves. Even though they became a na­tion, their nation was weak in between world-power na­tions. But these people were strong because they had faith in God Al­mighty.

When Jesus said, "Have faith in God," his real meaning was far greater than his literal words. He meant that they should depend on God who is al­mighty, and conquer the whole world by faith. Once, a father whose son had the symptoms of epilepsy came to Jesus and said, "If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us." "If you can?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes" (Mk 9:22,23). Like this fa­ther, we are liable to have half-faith. Half-faith is not faith at all. If we have half-faith we cannot experience the power and authority of faith.

Mountain-moving faith usually starts from oneself. One man had many bad habits. Through Bible study, he decided to grow as a disciple of Jesus. Before conversion, he saw Christians as weaklings and bums. But after con­version, when he looked at all other Christians, they looked so holy and ma­ture to him that he felt he was not able to catch up with them. He de­spaired at his poor spiritual condition. But he decid­ed to have absolute faith in God. He could not help himself much. But when he had absolute faith in Jesus, Jesus gave him the Spirit of Jesus to over­come himself and so grow spiritually.

Paul was in a helpless situation when he was in a Jerusalem jail for the sake of Jesus' name. At that time, Paul was old and tired, and he was in pris­on. He had no one to depend on. But he de­pended on God Al­mighty. He believed absolutely that he could go to Rome and establish a world mission center there, so that through Rome the gospel of Jesus might spread to all nations by virtue of Roman roads. Final­ly, Paul went to Rome in chains. Later he said in Philippians 4:13, "I can do every­thing through him who gives me strength." In his testimony, we learn that Paul himself had no power to change such a great Roman Empire; he had no power to change the course of world history. But Paul had abso­lute faith in God that he could do nothing, but God could do everything for him. Here we learn that to have faith in God is very simple but re­quires abso­luteness. According to the degree of their faith, some can barely move their fingers or complain; some can move moun­tains; some can change the course of world history. May God bless each of us to have the power and authority of faith when we believe in him abso­lutely.

There are many kinds of mountain-moving faith. By faith, Martin Lu­ther wrote the 95 Theses of the Reformation in 1517. By faith he chal­leng­ed his own hypoc­risy as well as the cor­ruption of the huge Roman Catho­lic Church lead­ers. His mountain-moving faith was virtually to fight against the corruption of the Roman Empire. By faith, David Liv­ing­stone (1813-1873) went on a heroic evan­gelistic journey that lasted 30 years to south­ern, central, and eastern Africa--places where no white man had previ­ously ventured. His moun­tain-moving faith was to love lost souls of Afri­can people.

When we have faith in God absolutely, God gives us his divine love in our hearts. We can see the most beautiful ex­ample of mountain-moving faith in Jesus. Jesus chose the twelve disci­ples from among very ordinary people and planted faith and hope in their hearts. It seemed to be a small matter. But there was Jesus' mountain-moving faith. Jesus and his disci­ples looked so hungry most of the time that they seemed to have no other desire than to eat. Nevertheless, because of Jesus' faith in God, they were raised as match­less histo­ry-makers. Be­cause of Jesus' faith in God, the disciples were changed from clumps of desire into ser­vants of God like Jesus.

Third, faith that overcomes doubt (23b,24). Let's read verse 23 again. "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." In order to have faith that moves mountains, we must overcome our doubts moment by moment by de­pend­ing on God's words. When we live by faith, all kinds of doubts come into our hearts. It is easy to plant doubt in one's heart. Planting doubt in one's heart is like setting fire to a building. But to plant faith in Jesus in someone's life takes life-giving effort, still we cannot guarantee. There­fore, we must know that suc­cess co­mes after overcoming Satan's doubt. Many young people want to live a holy life. But they soon be­come shaky when Satan comes and whispers, "Hey, you! Take it easy! You can do it tomor­row." The root of doubt is laziness or an easy-going men­tality. We can analyze here regarding what is mountain-mov­ing faith. In order to have mountain-moving faith we must fight against the doubt in our hearts. We must put out the fire of doubt in our hearts every day.

Let's look at verse 23b again. It says, "...and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him." We must believe in the promise of God. For example, God gave us a prom­ise, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Mt 6:33). We must believe in this prom­ise absolutely. We must live for the glory of God, believing that if we live for the glory of God he will bless us abundantly as well as our de­scendants. It is better to live by faith than to suffer from anxiety attacks.

II. Faith that prays (24)

We are living in the last part of the 20th century. Everybody is proud of the civilization of the 20th century. Everybody pretends to be happy. Out­wardly people live in a paradise by virtue of cultural achieve­ments and civili­zation. But inwardly people live in fear and doubt under Satan's rule. It is remarkable to know the fact that each time the civiliza­tion rose up to its peak, the world was utterly corrupted and the people became ungodly. As a result, people do not know how to pray. Prayer is, in essence, spiritual breathing. In prayer we lay all our anxiety and bur­den of sin on Jesus. In prayer we can rejoice in God, believing that he will care for us. But those who do not pray are all like asthma patients. Mod­ern times are full of asthma patients or men­tal patients.

Look at verse 24. "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." This verse teaches us that when we pray God hears our prayers, and our requests are granted. This is a great promise of God. We cannot do great things for God. But we must believe that when we pray God answers our prayers, and that we have re­ceived what we prayed for. For the last several years we prayed that God would establish America as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. We have prayed that God would raise 10,000 Bible teachers and spread them all over the coun­try. Whether these prayer topics are realistic or unrealistic, what is most important is that we pray with a prayer topic in accordance with God's will for world sal­vation.  And God will show us the glory of God. Once, Gen­eral Patton asked his chaplain to pray for good weath­er for a surprise attack the next day. Then the chap­lain got mad and didn't want to pray because he couldn't believe that God would an­swer such a prayer. We should not be like the army chap­lain. Never. Therefore prayer is our expression of faith. We must believe God's promise that he answers our prayers. Prayer is our faith that we can do noth­ing but God can do every­thing.

III. Faith that forgives (25)

Look at verse 25. "And when you stand praying, if you hold any­thing against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." Until now, Jesus talked about faith that moves mountains and the power of prayer. But now, Jesus talks about faith that forgives. It might be a very difficult problem for his disciples to forgive brothers. So, once Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times" (Mt 18:21,22). Wow! Seventy-seven times! Not to forgive is easy. But to forgive others who sin against us is not easy.

When we read biographies of heroes, we learn that each was the prod­uct of the social and national milieu of his times. Each of them had courage to over­come impossible tasks. Each of them burned with the spirit of conquest and victory. But there was a common factor in all of them: None of them could for­give others' wrongdoings. They all died hold­ing grudges in their hearts. They were nothing but fallen men.

Let's read verse 25. "And when you stand praying, if you hold any­thing against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." Jesus wants us to have faith that forgives. When we don't forgive others' sins, our Father in heaven does not forgive us our sins. Forgiving others might be a most difficult matter to fallen men. Rath­er, it is easy for us to keep the law of Moses, "A tooth for a tooth." How can we forgive others? We must look at Jesus' cross. We are objects of God's wrath and anger, liv­ing by our sinful na­tures. But God nailed his one and only Son to the cross in order to forgive men's sins. Through his Son's ransom sacrifice, God gave us the grace of forgive­ness. Our sins were forgiven, and we became the pre­cious children of God. Therefore, we can forgive others' sins as much as we remember God's grace through his Son. A certain min­ister's two sons were shot to death by militant communists. Lat­er, the one who shot them was arrest­ed. But the minister adopted him as his own son. Some asked him, "Why did you do so?" He said, "Because Jesus for­gave my sins." We can forgive others only when we realize Je­sus' grace of forgiveness of sins.

In this passage we learn that we must have faith in God so that we may have power and authority in our lives. Let's read the key verse, verse 22, again. "'Have faith in God,' Jesus answered."