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Have Faith In God

SUFFERING KING: THE BOOK OF MARK:
Have Faith In God: Mark 13:1-8
Pastor John Weathersby
Sunday February 28, 2021

Church I pray for us. Passages like today’s strike fear in me, actual fear and I want you to share in that with me. Not in a crumpled in the corner crippled with fear kind of a way – but in a sharpened for battle kind of a way. Fear that gives a certain sharpness to the senses. I hope to give a glimpse at the burden of this text for us today, so sharpen your mind as we move through Mark 12:1-8 up-and-against Jeremiah 7’s foreshadowing.

We’ve been following along with Mark in Jesus’ final days now in Jerusalem for a while – I want to re-cap these last few weeks studies with a theme in Mark’s gospel here around the Temple and show what Jesus is standing against, which is worship that takes focus OFF God. Does that sound strange? We can worship things that aren’t God, like safety and comfort and way of life, what do WE worship?

Mark 12:1–12 (ESV)
The Parable of the Tenants
1 And he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower, and leased it to tenants and went into another country.
2 When the season came, he sent a servant to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard.
3 And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed.
4 Again he sent to them another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully.
5 And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed.
6 He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’
7 But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’
8 And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard.
9 What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others.
10 Have you not read this Scripture:
“‘The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
11 this was the Lord’s doing,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”
12 And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away.

The parable based in the old testament of the laborers who where to have yielded gain through their work but who deny the fruit when the laborers come, kill them, and ultimately kill the son… thinly vailed prophecy here.

Mark 12:28–34 (ESV)
The Great Commandment
28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”
29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

They work to corner Jesus to have a charge against Him, during the exchange we see:

32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him.
33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Being not far, is realizing what God is after, their faithful hearts focused on the Kingdom of God, not early Kingdom things.

Mark 13:1–2
Finally, Jesus foretells the destruction of the temple. This whole section is an indictment on the cult-like atmosphere around the temple, where everything is about the systems of God, while being not about God, their faith was in the system not in God. We’d do well, to question our faiths anchor. Is it in stability of Government and ease of life, or in God?

1 And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!”
2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

What is this Temple that Mark is focused in on? The Temple Mark is focused on and that Jesus is doing so much around is the second. The first was built by King Solomon around 1200BC. King David conquered Jerusalem and made it the capital – it was destroyed is 586 BC by Nebuchadnezzar (King of Babylon) when he later took Jerusalem, some remains are there on the south of the hill of the City of David.

The second temple was built by King Herod after the Jews returned from their Babylonian exile, and the project was done in 515 BC. An Historian born 37AD dying 100AD wrote about the second temple, he said,

“The outward face of the temple in its front lacked nothing that was likely to surprise either men’s minds or their eyes, for it was covered all over with plates of gold of great weight, and, at the first rising of the sun, reflected back a very fiery splendour, and made those who forced themselves to look upon it to turn their eyes away, just as they would have done at the sun’s own rays. This temple appeared to strangers when they were at a distance, like a mountain covered with snow, for, as to those parts of it that were not gilt, they were exceedingly white.” – Josephus

Impressive in deed.

Mark 13:1–8 (ESV)
1 And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!”

Perhaps you know this feeling, maybe you’ve experienced staying below vast buildings and looking up, feeling like you lost your footing and balance for trying to follow it up into the sky. Or maybe even, stood under what should be night in Manhattan with energy all around you, cookie monster trying to sell you a photo, massive lights and screens everywhere.

2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

Well that’s kind of a bummer, and not very celebratory. We were having fun, I’m a small town guy, been following you camping out, and now we’re here. We’re in Jerusalem, this massive gold laden building with impossibly large stones, covered in curtains, and flash – more than 37 pieces of flair and certainly not the minimum – this was designed to impact.

Somewhere, outside was a testament to this truth. The withered fig tree of Mark 11:20

Mark 11:20–22 (ESV)
The Lesson from the Withered Fig Tree
20 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots.
21 And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”
22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God.

This is a standing indictment against all that the temple has become. This week read Jeremiah 7, and consider Jesus indictment.

Jesus tells them, there will not be one stone left upon another.

The fullness of the weight of this statement cannot be appreciated enough. This was an absolute marvel, they’re standing before one of the wonders of their modern world. But consider this – They’re sitting at the feet of the messiah, and while they cannot fully grasp it, they know it and this words are striking.

What does He mean here – are they literal, are they spiritual, are they metaphor, lets continue:

Signs of the End of the Age
3 And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately,
4 “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?”

Notice their focus, “when will this be”. Perhaps they’re stuck on timeline because they don’t fully appreciate Jesus greater mission – to establish His Church age, where the Holy Spirit is distributed to believers whose justification and legal righteousness are found through faith in Him. Rather they are looking for a political messiah. However, the tone here feels inquisitive not challenging, they’ve come to trust Him.

Our beliefs from childhood run deep. Maybe there are things you once believed by just trusting that others would laugh at but you believe them or that you now know are funny and wrong. This is where Christians I wish were were more careful and discerning, generally and with theology specifically. We have a watching world who if we’re following after every wind of doctrine every crazy and wrong news story which should have been obviously wrong – they may question our spiritual discernment, and that’s troublesome and troubling. These brothers have come to know that the temple was spoken of here:

Psalm 78:68–69 (ESV)
68  but he chose the tribe of Judah,
Mount Zion, which he loves.
69  He built his sanctuary like the high heavens,
like the earth, which he has founded forever.

Now Jesus is saying, it’s going to be no more… how do they reconcile this?

5 And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray.

Notice here what Jesus does and what he doesn’t do. He doesn’t answer their question about timeline, because they cannot fully appreciate that – and maybe the distance of time (20 years from now) would lose significance on them.

6 Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray.
7 And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet.
8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.

Jesus gives them a standing lasting warning, not a timeline of events. On the strength of His testimony. The very Jesus who fed the 5,000 from a small boys transformers lunch box, who healed the blind man, who stopped for the woman with the medial issues and healed her; up and all they’d seen with him and against the testimony of the truth of the fig tree standing withered down the road – where He reminded them to “Have faith in God”. Jesus, on the strength and authority of His own word, says beware of those who will come in my name.

We talk about the destruction of the 2nd temple in 70AD like it just fell down with with a city-safe controlled demolition implosion. This is NOT what happened. The Roman emperor Caligula 7 years after Jesus’s death said that a statue of him would be stood up inside the temple. They resisted hotly, and over a period of 30 years, a Roman general Titus (under the tension between the Jews and the Romans) drove an army into Judah and took Jerusalem. The inhabitants crowded in and were starved out; Josephus talks about it in a book called The Jewish Wars. 1.1 million people (men women and children) starved and otherwise died inside. The tensions inside as they were day-by-day starving were high, some Jews wanted to surrender, others suicide and it is said that more Jews were killed by one another than by each other.

Now on the backdrop of this consider the pride of the scribes and the pharisees just 40 years earlier, trying to kill Jesus because the system was more important that God. Jesus would have now left this Temple, sitting across the valley on the Mount of Olives not just chatting but with the foreknowledge of these events in the back of His mind, arming up His disciples with the only thing that would see them through and enable the church –

In Matthew Jesus asks the disciples who He is, Peter answers rightly Jesus says this:

18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

There is much to discuss here, but let’s say this, does it seem like Peter’s life was a gate kicking devil challenging, soul winner – or a steady faithful witness over time, humbled by God?

Have you ever had the book of Hosea? The burnt offerings and sacrifice weren’t of themselves meaningful.

Jeremiah 7:21 (ESV)
21 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices, and eat the flesh.

Gomer married to Hosea coming home from an evening of prostitution with a valentines day chocolate heart box and some Genuine Pony playing on the radio, likely didn’t get much favor and attention from Hosea.

This is what Jesus sees in the temple – Mark 11 enters in the idea of Jeremiah 7’s prophecy, with the parable of the tenants – 12:28-34 show this with Jesus the testimony of the withered tree in 11:12-27, just before His prophecy of it’s destruction ion 13:1. Like Jeremiah 7:22 Yahweh calls for true position before rote offering. God is NEVER interested in a show, or emotionalism, bur rather in conviction and trust.

Mark 11:12-27 (ESV)
Jesus Curses the Fig Tree
12 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry.
13 And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.
14 And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.
Jesus Cleanses the Temple
15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.
16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple.
17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”
18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching.
19 And when evening came they went out of the city.
The Lesson from the Withered Fig Tree
20 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots.
21 And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”
22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God.
23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.
24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
The Authority of Jesus Challenged
27 And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him,
Jeremiah 7:22 (ESV)
22 For in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices.

This is the weigh of this passage, Jesus inditement is to a people trusting in their religious system – is the same due to us? Are we about Church systems, committees and decisions, the trust of knowing I attend regular worship – or do we see our sin as an affront to a Holy God and live lives of repentance?

After adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband (please don’t do this), David writes in Psalm 51 the following:

Psalm 51:17 (ESV)
17  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

20 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots.
21 And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”
22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God.

This is a standing indictment against all that the temple has become. This week read Jeremiah 7, and consider Jesus indictment.

We’d do well, to question our faiths anchor. Is it in stability of Government and ease of life, or in God?

Look at the withered tree, the destroyed temple, and Have faith in God.

Pray, Observe, Apply.

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