“On Your Mark”
Living Faith (Chapter 11 Verses 20-26)
Meanwhile back at the fig tree (v20). Within twenty-four hours the tree had dried up, withered, dead. The implication of Peter’s words is how, how is this possible (v21b)? Simple, the answer was in Peter’s own statement, it was cursed, cut off by the Lord. The tree is a picture of the Temple worship, of Judaism, and what the Jews had turned it into. There was no vibrant faith in the living God, no love for him. They were blinded by their unbelief, they had departed from God a long, long time ago, and all that was left was a Temple full of cheats and robbers (vv15-17), their religion which should have borne an abundance of fruit (Galatians 5.20ff), had withered, died, through lack of faith (Romans 11.22). The Lord had come to them yet again, in their own Temple, the Lord’s anointed, the Messiah and they rejected him in their unbelief (John 1.11; 5.40; Matthew 21.33-46). The tree got what it deserved, so would the Jews. The lesson is, we must have faith, and we must go on in faith (John 15.1-17), not doing, not with a show of religious leaves, but with a deep-rooted faith, trust, reliance upon God. That, and that alone is the work of God (John 6.29).
The certainty of this fact is pressed upon the disciples “verily I say unto you” (v23). Because to accomplish the impossible (v23b; Matthew 17.20), to be the fruit-bearing disciples of Jesus, they must be deeply embedded in God through faith (Psalm 1.1-3). A faith that is the fruit of grace (1Corinthians 13.2; Matthew 7.22), that unites to Jesus. A God-given faith, produced, created by God the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2.5-8). How did Gideon accomplish the impossible with only three hundred men (Judges 7.7)? How following Pentecost did these disciples penetrate Judaism, and Asia Minor with the gospel of Christ? How has God’s gospel Church spread throughout the world and still doing so? By a living faith! A faith which believes in a miracle-working God. The supernatural always slumbers when faith lies sleeping, or dead. By faith in the God whom we believe is able and willing to interfere in the lives of many yet. You see at the end of the day, what you believe, and its degree, is so very important, because the measure of fruit will always be according to the measure of your faith (Matthew 9.29). The disciple only uses God’s power when he does the seemingly impossible. The necessity of faith Jesus lays on his disciples here is very, very strong. Doubtless, believing, he says, and it will be done. The inward joy which faith brings to us can overcome all fear, terror, sorrow and anxiety.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)