Mark 11:12-26: Which Are You — Pharisee or Christian?

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Mark 11:12-26: Which Are You — Pharisee or Christian?

May 6, 2021


1 Samuel 14, Psalm 100, Mark 11:12-26, 2 Corinthians 5

Mark 11:12-26:

We come now to one of the most discussed and most misunderstood accounts in the life of Jesus: the cursing of the fig tree. Why does he do it? What is the point? Jesus is pronouncing judgment on fake legalistic religion that denies Him and glories in human invented pharisaic rules and rituals.

He curses the fig tree in verses 12-14. Then he goes to the temple, verses 15-19, and he throws out the money changers. The temple was meant to be a house of prayer for all nations. Instead, it had become a religious business for the insider—lining the pockets of the old boys’ club at the top of the religious pyramid.

And then on his return, verse 20, the disciples notice the that fig tree has withered. The point is that the Old Covenant is being replaced with the New, and God’s Savior, Jesus Christ, is formulating a new community of his people that will take the gospel to the ends of the world. This is the point of the otherwise-somewhat-enigmatic statements that Jesus makes about prayer in verses 23-26 [verse 26 ellipsed from many contemporary translations as not likely to have been in the original]. Jesus is saying this new way of his, that he is introducing, if we trust him will grow and develop throughout the world. And that this will lead to the forgiveness of sins, verse 25.

In essence, the point of this passage is to call us away from fake, pharisaic, legalistic religiosity. And to call us to faith-filled, Christ-centered, forgiving others as we have been forgiven, Christianity. Which are you—Pharisee or Christian?


Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.


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