The Text

Mark 11:20–25 (CSB)
20 Early in the morning, as they were passing by, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up.

21 Then Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”

22 Jesus replied to them, “Have faith in God.

23 Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.

24 Therefore I tell you, everything you pray and ask for—believe that you have received it and it will be yours.

25 And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your wrongdoing.”

The Sidenote

Where is verse 26?

Mark 11:26 [But if you don’t forgive, neither will your Father i heaven forgive your wrongdoing.]

The oldest Greek Manuscripts did not include this verse.

This inclusion and exclusion doesn’t break the Bible. This lines up with not only the Gospels:

Matthew 6:15 (CSB) But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your offenses.

But with the gospel of Christ:

1 John 4:7-8 (CSB) Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

The Devotion

Let me talk about my camp for a moment–the Charismatics. I have grown up being explicitly taught that this verse literally–that we should have so much quantity of faith that we should have the ability to toss mountians into the sea. But then be instantly sad and grieve because apparently we have little to no faith because we can’t toss mountains into the sea.

Look at the focus of that grief, saddness, and disappointment. Is God the subject of that or is that yourself?

You know what is more difficult? A human entering in the kingdom of God without God. Christ has listed two impossible, ridiculous, irrational notions to get you and me to realize what we actually need.

One, camel through the eye of an needle. No, there is no needle gate and if the camel can duck down, he will be able to get in. If you believe that, you don’t believe the gospel because that is antithetical to the gospel.

Two, throwing mountains into the sea. “But Christ we should be able to?”, you might say. But read the passage again:

22 Jesus replied to them, “Have faith in God.

You and I as children of Adam keep hearing the gospel but want to so badly believe the lies of Satan. “I don’t want to do what God says. Maybe I can do just enough good things, he will let me in on a curve.”

What if we treated relationships like that? “I want to be her friend. I know, let me do enough good things to make her think that we are friends so that she will leave me alone.” “I need my wife to stop bothering me. I know, let me do just enough things to fulfill the marital vow. Hopefully then she can leave me alone.”

What kind of relationship is that? Answer: its not a relationship.

Christ has commanded you to believe, trust, and obey Him for eternal life. Stop doing and trying to do just enough because you are no closer getting to God that way. Doing it your way, you haven’t moved a hair. In fact, the more you try to do good, the more you are slipping away from God.

Have faith in God. Lots of faith, or little faith–what matters is the object of our faith. The object of our faith is Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Discussion

1. How did you hear this passage before and what did you believe about it?
2. Have you ever thought about how you can't do enough good things to get into heaven? If so, how did it make you feel at first?
3. In light the of gospel, how does it sound knowing you can't do anything good enough to be saved?
4. What does faith look like in Christ look like?

The Prayer from the Psalms

Psalm 12 (CSB)
For the choir director: according to Sheminith. A psalm of David.

1 Help, LORD, for no faithful one remains; the loyal have disappeared from the human race.

2 They lie to one another; they speak with flattering lips and deceptive hearts.

3 May the LORD cut off all flattering lips and the tongue that speaks boastfully.

4 They say, “Through our tongues we have power; our lips are our own—who can be our master?”

5 “Because of the devastation of the needy and the groaning of the poor, I will now rise up,” says the LORD. “I will provide safety for the one who longs for it.”

6 The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in an earthen furnace, purified seven times.

7 You, LORD, will guard us; you will protect us from this generation forever.

8 The wicked prowl all around, and what is worthless is exalted by the human race.

My Lord,
My legacy has already passed through my lips. I have nothing but strongest bitterness and the most potent venom to come out of my mouth.

I have lied. I have manipulated. I have cheated.

With my snake tongue, I have tried to get others to do my bidding, believing the lie that I am the one that needs to control them in order for my soul to be at peace.

However, what if I get my way? My soul still knows no peace. I am not at ease. I am not better now than before I started telling lies.

Where is the source of this poison and bitterness? Ah, I know it is my heart. My heart is nothing but a stone vial of venom to harm others and to keep others away from me.

My God, dump the poison out. Swap my heart out with a soft, tender heart. Give me a heart that hurts when I try to fill it with poison. Give me a heart that aches in pain when I try to keep You at a distance.

God, do this through the intercession and broken body of Your Son, all by the power of your great and Holy Spirit.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of heart will forever bring you sweet pleasure to your ears.

I love you, Lord. Thank you for saving me to You.

In your Son’s precious and beautiful name, I pray.


The Resources

Calvin’s Commentaries.
by John Calvin.
Baker. 2009.
Olive Tree

Mark: An Expositional Commentary
by R.C. Sproul.
Reformation Trust Publisher. 2011.

New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel According to Mark
by William Hendriksen.
Baker. 1981.

The Gospel according to Mark: The English Text With Introduction, Exposition, and Notes (The New International Commentary on the New Testament)
by William L. Lane.
Eerdman’s. 1974.

Mark (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, NT Volume 2)
Edited by Thomas C. Odin & Christopher A. Hall
IVP Academic. 2005.

Mark (The Story of God Bible Commentary Series)
by Timothy G. Gombis.
Zondervan Academic. March 9th 2021.