There are over 300,000 Protestant churches in America. The Bible and sermons are available in print, via audio, on television, and even live on social media. And, unlike many other countries with dictatorial regimes, there are American laws that protect our rights to seek and practice our religious freedoms. With God so easily accessible, why is it that only 30% of Americans identify as Christians, and only 20% of that number are attending church weekly? Why is there such hostility against God because of Christians? What are unbelievers in America and the rest of the world seeing that our gold cross chains, scriptural tees, and evangelical belief systems are not representing?
- What does it look like to be spiritually unfruitful, and what are the consequences?
READ THE WORD: MARK 11:12-19 (ESV)
12 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. 13 And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.
15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” 18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. 19 And when evening came they went out of the city.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- Why did Jesus curse the tree? What was he expecting to find as he approached it?
- What did Jesus do when he arrived at the temple in Jerusalem (vss. 15-16)? What was the reason for his righteous indignation? What was he expecting to see?
- In verse 17, what was the significance of Jesus teaching the disciples that his house should be called a house of prayer for all the nations? Why did he refer to it as a den of robbers?
- What are the parallels, and any differences, between the judgments of Jesus on the Jews in the temple and the unfruitful fig tree?
- How is Jesus calling you to confront spiritual fruitlessness in your own life or the life of the church?
RESPOND TO GOD
Christians, our leaves are showing, but is our fruit made in the image and reverence of God? How do we expect unbelievers to acknowledge our God and worship him when there is greed and abuse from our spiritual leaders? How will others believe God is love when there is hate and division of God’s people along racial, political, and socioeconomic lines? God wants his church to live holy, faithful, fruit-bearing lives. Hypocritical religion will be condemned, and God the Father, through Jesus, will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
- Ask God to reveal to you how your life might look like the fruitless fig tree or the temple that Jesus cleansed.
- Pray and ask Jesus to cleanse you from the things that are robbing others from seeing the glory of God.