StoneBridge Community Church
The Markan Sandwich - Mark 11:12-25: "Withered Away"
Senior Pastor Jon Saur
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  • StoneBridge Community Church
    4832 Cochran St, Simi Valley, CA 93063, USA
    Saturday 5:15 PM, Sunday 5:20 PM

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In this sermon series, we will be looking at a literary device in the Gospel of Mark called a "Markan Sandwich." At a few points in this gospel, Mark will take two stories and put them together. One story will begin, Mark will then shift to a seemingly unrelated story, then Mark will return to the original story. The first story is the bread, the second story is the meat. Though both stories seem to be unrelated, Mark is teaching us something by combining them.
The Text in Context, Part 1
The Cursing of the Fig Tree
(11:12-14, 20-25)
The whole matter of the triumphal entry and the cleansing of the temple can best be summarized in the symbolic lesson of the cursing of the fig tree. It is deliberately woven into the fabric of the account of the temple cleansing, to show us that this narrative is but one piece of cloth.
Granted, the emphasis of this incident (as discussed between Jesus and His disciples in verses 20-25) is upon the power of the prayer of faith. But this is only because the disciples were not able to grasp its deepest significance until after the Savior’s death and resurrection (cf. John 12:16).
The barren fig tree strikingly portrayed the condition of the nation Israel as Jesus saw it. There was the outward profession and the promise of fruit (as indicated by the presence of leaves on the fig tree76), but upon closer evaluation this promise was empty.
Like the leaves of the fig tree, the nation appeared to hunger and thirst after righteousness and the coming of the Kingdom of God. But behind all of this religious flurry of acclaim and activity, there was no real fruit or repentance. There was only the selfish hope of the military rout of Rome and the establishment of a Kingdom that meant the absence of worry and work (cf. John 6:26,34, etc.).
Again, like the barren fig tree, there was at the temple a great deal of religious activity. But it was not centered upon the worship of God, but upon the self-enhancement of some at the expense of others.
This triumphal tragedy contrasted God’s Kingdom (and His King) against the backdrop of the religious exercises and expectations of the nation. It was a tragic misunderstanding that only our Lord grasped. It was our Lord setting His face toward Jerusalem, walking in the path of the cross, sovereignly exposing more and more of Himself, and in the process, bringing about His own execution because men will not have salvation God’s way but their own way.

Robert L. Deffinbaugh

The Text In Context, Part 2

"Jesus took two very significant actions here which are tantamount to the cursing of this nation, just as he cursed the fig tree when he found it with..." To read more, click link.

I. Markan Sandwich

II. First Story

III. Second Story

IV. The Temple

V. Faith

1. Think of those whom you know have been excluded from a church community.

2. Pray for them, that they would find community centered on Jesus' resurrection.

3. If appropriate, reach out to whom you prayed for and invite them to church.

1) What do you think is the significance of Jesus cursing the fig tree in Mark 11:12-14?

2) How does the cursing of the fig tree relate to Jesus' actions in the temple in Mark 11:15-19?

3) Why do you think Jesus was so angry about the practices happening in the temple?

4) What can we learn from Jesus' actions in the temple about how we should approach our own Christian faith practices?

5) In what ways do you think the story of the fig tree and the temple cleansing apply to our modern-day society and faith practices?
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