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Passover Reflections – Pt.2
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are
noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, what-
ever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if
there is any virtue and if anything praiseworthy- meditate on
Jesus spent His last few days before Passover at the house of His dear friends; Lazarus, Mary and Martha (John 12:1-2). They lived in a small village on the eastern slopes of the Mt. of Olives called Bethany also near to Bethphage or “The House of the Fig Tree.” In the day He would ascend the Mt. Of Olives, walk down its western slope and enter the Temple compound via the Golden Gate. Here He would teach and interact with His Disciples, and detractors, returning every evening to a place of warmth, fellowship, acceptance and love.
One morning as He went through this routine, on His way up the eastern slope of the Mt. Of Olives, He spotted a fig tree and feeling a little hungry He rummaged through its leaves seeking its fruit and finding none He cursed the tree (Mark11:12-13). The next morning, while on the way to the Temple precincts, the Disciples took note of the fact that the fig tree had actually withered and died. They of course made comment about this to Jesus who in turn urged them to have faith in God (Mark 11:20-22).
All of this is quite instructive for us as Christians, especially as we walk through all these events at this time of Passover. I wish to draw your attention to the following:
1. Jesus was all the time conscious of His unique destiny
The shadow of the cross was cast over His life when He submitted Himself to John’s Baptism in that, by doing so and being sinless, He identified His life with the sins of the world, which He would one day carry away (John 1:29). During the Passover week Jesus, having entered Jerusalem triumphantly, did not cleanse the city, as many expected that He would, but He cleansed the Temple by overthrowing the tables of the Moneychangers and Racketeers (Matthew 21:12). This did not bless His antagonists and it heightened their anger and determination to get rid of Him. Jesus was well aware of this, but He did not shrink back because He was absolutely certain of His destiny. He thus pushed forward trusting fully in God His Father to help and sustain Him.
Sometimes the destiny to which God calls us is not easy to walk out, it will involve trial, difficulty, resistance and suffering but, like Jesus, we have to be single minded and pursue the will of God relentlessly all the while knowing that God will help us and enable to us to achieve His plan for our lives ( Acts 21:11-13). Consider Paul’s life; he was called to accomplish much for Jesus but to achieve this he had to suffer much! (Acts 9:15-16). The message is clear, take hold of your destiny no matter what the cost.
2. Jesus had faith in God
The episode surrounding the cursing of the Fig Tree has many teaching angles, however the main concept that Jesus wishes to get across to His Disciples is this, “Have faith in God” (Mark 11:20-22). This sounds fairly simple but actually it is very profound in that, to have faith God one must know exactly who He is and consequently what He is capable of. Paul wrote that, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). In short, the more you know, and are convinced of, about the character of God so the more you will be able to trust Him! I recently had complicated surgery and that which gave me complete peace about the procedure was the fact that I knew the surgeon to be one of the very best, if not the best, at his profession. Knowing him, who he was and appreciating his track record brought calm and peace to my life.
In the same way, Jesus teaches us that faith is actually “knowing based.” That is, it only becomes powerful and a reality in our lives when we know who God is, and in our hearts are certain of it. This type of faith will remove the mountains in your life. Most Christians do not have it and will not have it until they read the Word of God day and night and meditate upon it. (Psalm 1:1-3)
3. Jesus needed true friends
Jesus’ love for Lazarus, Mary and Martha is well documented in scripture (John 11:5). With them He could unwind, relax and be at peace. That is, He didn’t have to be on His guard, and He could truly feel loved and cared for. This was the provision of God at a time when the sorrows of His life were quite overwhelming. We all need friends like this but actually more important still is the fact that we must determine to befriend others like this. Life, even the Christian life, as Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress teaches us, is fraught with difficulty and trouble. Can we rise above our personal needs and become a refuge for others when they most need it?
Now is a good time to consider this as we face the uncertain storm of a raging virus in our world. Though we cannot gather at “Bethany” we can gather in so many other ways and we should reach out to one another. Email, phone or text someone today and tell them that you care about them.
God bless you,