Dealing With Opposition
Mark 11:12-14, 20-24
“Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none…”
Jesus and his disciples were making their way down the west slope of the Mount of Olives when our Lord caught sight of a fig tree in the distance. When he approached it he found “nothing but leaves,” not even the buds that normally precede the mature fruit. The tree was utterly barren. In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.” And his disciples “heard him.”
What is this? His pique seems out of character.
The next day, Jesus and his disciples passed by the fig tree and saw that it had withered away. “Look,” Peter said, “the fig tree has withered.” “Have faith in God,” was Jesus’ laconic reply. Then He pointed to the temple mount (the demonstrative “this mountain” suggests that conclusion) and spoke of its ultimate removal. Mount Zion and the temple built on its crest was the center of official resistance to Jesus’ work. There was no spiritual fruit there; only hostility. Israel’s leaders even then were plotting his death. Faith, he insisted, is the means by which this “mountain” of resistance would be removed.
What is this, but a lesson in dealing with opposition. How do we meet resistance? Not by bitter engagement, violence, force and fierce debate, and surely not by passivity, but by faith, i.e., by prayer, the expression of our utter dependence upon God (vs. 23,24). We must put our opponents in His hands, put them out of our thoughts, and go about our work. He will deal with them in due time. As Jesus put it on another occasion, “Every plant that my Father has not planted will be rooted up. Leave them alone” (Matthew 15:13,14).
There is a postscript here: “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him…” (vs. 25). We must pray that God will deal with our opponents, and we must forgive them. This is the face that grace turns toward opposition.