Intro: Sometimes the Lord does some things so apparently unreasonably severe, people “have cause” to doubt its truth or righteousness…
What we can’t satisfactorily explain ,we explain away. “is this the carpenter’s son’?”
Our text has this effect. One commentator said, “THIS STORY DOESN’T RING TRUE.” It seems so severe, we have a narrow conception of Jesus…we think we have Him all figured out, and when He acts contrary to our standards, we say it mustn’t be true.
BUT JESUS HAS A REASON.. .The context shows this was an object lesson. The FIG TREE represents Israel. The LEAVES represent the externals of religion–that which shows, the visible. The FRUIT represents the internal, the real.. .All show but no stuff. No personal righteousness.
ILLUSTRATION: The temple wasn’t really a place of meeting God, worship, prayer…
Jesus is condemning a “Nothing but Leaves” religion that is very common today. He curses it. Why?
I. A NOTHING BUT LEAVES RELIGION IS A HYPOCRITICAL RELIGION.
1. The tree professed fruit. It was a hypocrite.
The fig tree bore two crops of fruit… One before leaves, one with leaves. It was sporting leaves, so Jesus had every right to expect fruit. By its external signs it claimed to be fulfilling its God-appointed function.
Illustration: Smoke without fire, clouds without rain, sun without light…
2. The time of figs was not yet. Israel was rejecting its Messiah as their King, yet still claimed to be fulfilling its God-appointed purpose.
3. Until Jesus is reigning as Lord in your life, the time of figs is not yet.
II. A NOTHING BUT LEAVES RELIGION CONTRADICTS, DISDAINS.. ITS’ GOD INTENDED CREATED PURPOSE.
Purpose: “To bear fruit, to feed the hungry, to refresh the weary, to share its life.”
One of Jesus’ oft used examples–Luke 13, barrenness.
FRUITLESSNESS IF USELESSNESS.
1. A Reasonable Expectation–The reason God made the fig tree.
2. A Possible Expectation–Just the sharing of its’ life.. .not effort, privilege, etc.
III. A NOTHING BUT LEAVES RELIGION IS A SELFISH RELIGION.
1. Created to share.
2. Lives only for itself
3. Exists only for itself All its efforts, etc., are never for sharing life with others.
IV. A NOTHING BUT LEAVES RELIGION IS A CURSED RELIGION.
1. Its’ sin became its’ punishment. Jesus perpetuated the condition. Didn’t use the ability–lost the ability.
2. Dries up at the roots. Its’ religion may be surface and shallow, but not its’ judgment…
CURE: Faith in God and Prayer–Dependence upon God and a vital relationship with Him.
©Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2003
— Vs 51, “What do you want Me to do for you,” may sound like a superfluous, even foolish, question. What else would a blind man want but his sight? But Jesus asked the question anyway, and He asks us.
I. WHAT DO YOU WANT JESUS TO DO FOR YOU? 1.This is a probing question. What do you REALLY want? The question forces self-examination. 2. his is a personal question. 3.This is a promising question. The fact that He asks it implies He is ready to do something.
II. HOW BADLY DO YOU WANT IT? 1. To disregard public opinion? vs. 48, “And many charged him that he should hold his peace.” 2. To discard personal obstacles? vs. 50, “And he, casting away his garment….”
III. WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH IT? Vs. 52, “And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way…..And immediately…he followed Jesus in the way.” He used his sight to follow Jesus. Perhaps Jesus’ real purpose was not to just provide eyesight, but to made it possible for him to follow Jesus. Jesus will give you anything that will make you a better follower.
What would you do with it? The question is already answered by what you have done with the things Jesus has already given you.
©Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2001
INTRO: In early Christian art the Church was depicted as a boat driven upon a perilous sea– very early this incident was understood as a sign of Jesus’ saving presence in the persecution that threatened to overwhelm the church.
The disciples have trouble behaving correctly in a storm. The word Mark uses means more than an ordinary storm, it means A FURIOUS STORM. The disciples had weathered many storms but this one terrified them.
THE MINISTRY OF THE STORM.
I. THE STORM OFTEN COMES IN THE PATH OF OBEDIENCE.
1. This journey was undertaken at the Lord’s command. They responded with unquestioning obedience. This made the storm harder to understand and the Lord’s attitude quite inexplicable.
2. Paul’s journey to Rome and the storm.
3. Paul’s call “What great things He must suffer for my sake.”
4. Paul in Acts. 20:22, 23
5. Daniel and Three Hebrew Children
Sometimes the storms of obedience are greater than normal storms.
II. THE STORM MAKES IT APPEAR THAT JESUS DOESN’T CARE.
“Carest Thou not that we perish?”
1. Perish: The present tense denotes that they saw themselves already going down to destruction.
2. Their cry implies a feeling of resentment at Jesus’ apparent indifference to their peril. It was a cry of disbelief and astonishment.
3. “He slept.” He is emphatic, contrasting Jesus’ peace and the disciple’s panic. He slept in spite of the storm.. .undisturbed by the danger. The crashing of the fierce waves did not disturb his sleep.
4. Gideon “If the Lord be with us, why have all these things befallen us?”
5. Hab. 1 “How long, O Lord?”
6. “My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”
THE LORD’S WAY
I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith and love and every grace-
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek more earnestly His face.
‘Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer;
But it has been in such a way.
As almost drove me to despair.
I hoped that in some favored hour
At once He’d answer my request;
And, by His love’s constraining power,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.
Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart,
And let the angry powers of hell
Assault my soul in every part.
Yea, more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid them low.
“Lord, why is this?” trembling cried:
“Wilt thou pursue Thy worm to death?”
“‘Tis in this way,” the Lord replied,
“I answer prayer for grace and faith.”
“These inward trials I employ,
From self and pride to set thee free
And break the schemes of earthly joy,
That thou mayest seek thy all in Me”
III. THE STORM REVEALS THE REAL ENEMY. It exposes our weaknesses.
1. Their fear revealed a lack of faith in Him.
2. The cure of fear is faith. “Have you not yet learned to leave everything in the Father’s care, as I do?”
3. They had no right to be afraid–even if they perished in the waters.
4. “Why are you so fearful?” The problem that confronted God was not that of stilling the storm on the sea, but that of stilling the storm in their hearts.
5. Faithlessness is more to be feared than a stormy sea. We are afraid of the wrong things. Daniel was more afraid of prayerlessness than lions.. .Hebrew children more afraid of compromise than fire. We are not to fear lack of money as much as lack of faith. God will provide our needs.
6. It was the disciples’ opinion that they were perishing, not the Lord’s.
IV. THE STORM DRIVES US TO JESUS.
1. The fact that these men turned to Jesus for help is astonishing. They were expert sailors and had come through many a storm on this very sea. They ran to Jesus who had never handled a boat.
2. Completely at the end of their resources, in which they had always taken pride, they now throw themselves upon Jesus as their only hope.
3. They abandon all human help, the best of which they have in their own skill.
4. “Anything that makes us pray is a blessing” and when the storm has accomplished it’s purpose, Jesus will still the storm.
5. The rush of the sea and the sweep of the wind did not waken Jesus but the touch of a trembling hand and the cry of the men did. Illustration of a baby’s soft cry waking the mother.
C. S. Lewis: “God whispers in our pleasures, but shouts in our pain.”
V. THE STORM ALWAYS REVEALS SOMETHING NEW ABOUT JESUS.
1. “They feared exceedingly.” Who THEN is this?” This is a DIFFERENT fear… a deep reverential awe in the presence of the supernatural.
2. Jesus did not rebuke this kind of fear.
3. This time they were afraid of Jesus.
4. This fear was produced, not by the storm, but by the CALM. Whatever fear they had was displaced by a greater fear.
5. This “great fear” is the feeling of overpowering awe caused by the revelation of almighty power.
6. Jesus proposes to cast out all petty ad ignoble fear by one great and noble fear–THE FEAR OF GOD. Not the fear of terror, BUT TRUST.
7. Nothing makes us courageous as does the fear of God. Augustine said, “fear God and you need fear no one else.”
WHO THEN IS THIS?
1. What did they see in Jesus that day that made them ask the question? Something happened that made them ask, “Who is this?”
2. “THEN” implies a logical deduction from what they had just experienced. In hushed tones they pondered Jesus’ true identity. They realized that they did not yet really know Him.
3. They had discovered in their Master a power and an authority demanding a more intense discipleship. “We must get nearer to Him.” “We must find out more about Him.”
4. And down through the ages He has brought men to this attitude through storms.
5. THEY LEARNED THERE WAS NO NEED TO WAKE HIM.
6. THEY LEARNED THAT “No waters can swallow the ship where lies the Master of ocean and earth and skies.”
7. THEY LEARNED THAT NO STORM CAN WRECK THE PLAN AND PROGRAM OF GOD.
8. THEY LEARNED THAT IT IS SAFER TO BE WITH JESUS ON THE STORMY SEA THAN WITHOUT HIM ON THE SAFE SHORE.
Illustration of Abraham on Mt. Moriah with Isaac: “THE LORD WILL PROVIDE.” Gen. 22:14
©Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2003