MARK 11:22-24: “So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” (NKJV)
OBSERVATION: When was the last time you saw someone move a mountain? This section in Mark 11 is often used to support the teaching of receiving through faith by positive confession. The key phrase is “…he will have whatever he says.” Yet, in all my years, I have never seen or read about someone who has literally moved a mountain. This is what Jesus said – “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, Be removed and cast into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.”
What did Jesus mean?
Jesus was taking the withering of the fig tree as a teaching moment to speak to His disciples about faith and prayer. Jesus never did anything out of anger, or without purpose. He did not simply curse the fig tree because it did not have any fruit. Jesus also was not taking out His anger and disappointment on a harmless fig tree. The fig tree represented Israel. He had just entered Jerusalem as their King to shouts of Hosanna. Yet, Jesus knew that He would soon be rejected and crucified by the same crowd who hailed Him as He road into Jerusalem. Israel would reject her King, and she would soon be destroyed. This was the symbolic importance of the fig tree. Yet, Jesus used it for an important teaching moment regarding faith.
As we read the Bible it is important that we read the verses before and after the verses in question. The verses preceding this were about Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the cleansing of the Temple, and the cursing of the fig tree. It is the verses that follow Mark 11:22-24 that shine a light on the important lesson that Jesus was endeavoring to convey to His disciples.
- “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25-26 NKJV)
Mark 11:22-24 is not intended to teach us a formula on how to exercise our faith in order to get the things we “say”. It is intended to teach us how to pray. We are to pray believing. We are to pray in faith. And now Jesus directs His disciples to the greatest mountain that will ever have to be moved through believing prayer. What is this mountain. It is the mountain of unforgiveness! I know of no other mountain that is more difficult to move than the mountain of unforgiveness. In fact, this mountain cannot be moved – except through the prayer of faith!
Throughout the life of Jesus He had called His disciples to forgive. Yet, Jesus knew that in a few short days His disciples would face the greatest challenge of all. Their Lord would be beaten, mocked, crucified and buried. They would be called by Jesus, from the cross, to forgive. How could they forgive those who had so savagely beaten and rejected their Lord? How could they then be called to minister to the same ones who spit upon Him? How could they overcome the mountain of hatred and unforgiveness in their hearts? The answer was the prayer of faith! As they prayed, forgiving others, they could be assured that they were receiving the provision and capacity to forgive from the Father!
This is the one mountain (the mountain of unforgiveness) that always moves when we speak to it in faith! When Jesus hung on the cross He cried – “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do!” In that moment the mountains of unforgiveness were dislodged and moved with these simple words of faith. When we speak the same words of forgiveness the hatred and bitterness in our hearts are dislodged and we receive His provision of mercy and grace. It frees us from the stronghold of unforgiveness. It also joins us in agreement with God’s heart and prays for the salvation and reconciliation of those who are yet bound in sin, hatred, and unforgiveness. It does not move their mountain. Only they can do that through personal faith and surrender. Yet, it does release us into the position and ministry of intercession that prays for their salvation and calls upon the Holy Spirit to shine the light of God’s love upon their lives.
As we will celebrate another Christmas in just two days, and as I write these words, I am asking the Lord to reveal any mountains that may have become lodged in my heart. I want to place all the hurts of my past, all the misunderstandings and disagreements that may have been poised to spring up into a root of bitterness, at the foot of His cross. I want to rise up with new faith and speak to the mountain of unforgiveness and say – “Be thou removed and cast into the sea!”
In Jesus Name!