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Unexpected - II

Daily Reading: Mark 11

Scripture Focus: As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” (Mark 11.20-21)

Devotional Thought: Well, I didn't see that coming! I wonder if the disciples said that when they came upon that withered fig tree. A few days ago we read (Mark 5) about a demon possessed man who heard something unexpected from Jesus and was able to give an unexpected testimony and see unexpected results. In Mark 11, Jesus again does something unexpected - cursing a fig tree - and gets unexpected results - the tree withering away to its roots. While the unexpected results from Mark 5 were of a positive nature, these unexpected results serve as a warning.

What can we learn from this unexpected withering?

  • Appearance is not enough. The Lord was not satisfied by looking at the beautiful leaves . He wanted fruit. We can dress up our lives in many ways, but Jesus wants us to bear the fruit of the Spirit.

  • Facades exact a heavy toll. The effort required to keep up false appearances cannot be sustained for long. In the presence of the holiness of Christ, a facade will wither. We must be drawing life from the root, or we will fade quickly away.

  • Hypocrisy goes to the root of our character. In dealing with false appearances and claims, Jesus has no choice but to go to the root of the problem. In order to be made new, we must die to self - or in the words of Jesus, take up our crosses.

The disciples did not expect such a radical reaction from Jesus, and I'm afraid that we too often do not expect Jesus to deal harshly with us. But Jesus' way is the way of the cross. Is it really that unexpected?

Prayer: Lord, you have said that we must leave all to follow you. It is a radical departure from comfortable Christianity. Work a change in my character - from the roots outward - so that I can follow you in the way of the cross. Amen.

Psalm of the Day: Psalm 7.6-13

6 Arise, O Lord, in your anger; lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies; awake for me; you have appointed a judgment. 7 Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you; over it return on high.

8 The Lord judges the peoples; judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me. 9 Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end, and may you establish the righteous— you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God! 10 My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart. 11 God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.

12 If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow; 13 he has prepared for him his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts.

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