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Mark 11 Withered Fig Tree

Posted by adventbiblestudy on September 2, 2015

Jesus rides a donkey

This is a study showing now a sequence of key words brings out details we would miss after reading the stories dozens of times. You see, highlighting key words gives the Spirit time to work with you and shows you hidden gems scattered all over scripture.

The introduction sets the theme by using three action words in the first verse, approached, came, and sent. Four more are added in verse 2, go into, enter and bring. When we see a concentration of related words, it sets the theme for the entire story as well as the sequence of stories.

Another set of key words are introduced, tied and untied. Those could be related to the other key words concentrating to moving based on the fact, being tied up is contrary to moving. God also uses contrasts to teach the same lesson. When we think of being tied or untied in the spiritual sense, we are ready to look and see the rest of the lessons in the chapter and how they are related.

This takes us to another road sign in the lessons. It seems when a verse contains three or more words related to speaking, that verse marks the beginning of an important lesson. In this case, verse 6 contains the words said, told, and say. Jesus told them what to say so they would be permitted to untie the donkey.

On the spiritual side, we never stand a chance of releasing people from worldly bonds if we’re not listening to Jesus. Do you understand why the author repeated three words related to communication?

Looking back to verse 3 we see another spiritual lesson. I’m not exactly sure where this one is pointing. But we see another word related to action or movement. We see this detail only when we look back to see what Jesus told His disciples to say. “The Lord needs it and will return it soon.” We see the word return jump out. How does this relate to the other words related to movement? What spiritual lesson is that word teaching in this context? What is it Jesus will return?

A story about a fig tree follows. Read the story and pay attention to how key words were repeated. Fig tree, leaf, figs, leaves, eat, and fruit are all related and repeated for a reason.

Going onto the next story we see a new group of key words repeated. Buying, selling, money, and marketplace are all related to income at the temple. The spiritual side of the story takes shape only when we look at the next story where key words fig tree are repeated again, and the word roots is added. This time they are described as withered and dead. Because those key words are used before and after the story about money, the spiritual lesson and symbolism is obvious.

We also see another set of key words related to time in the middle of those stories. Evening and the next morning established the exact time frame those events took place. This tells us the spiritual lesson is established between key words. In this care key words related to the fig tree.

We also see another verse using a sequence of words related to communication in verse 17. He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.” This also draws our attention showing what that fruitless, dead fig tree pointed to.

The story gets real interesting at the end of the chapter known as the summation. Which is this case is the summary of the lesson. Related key words teachers, and authority are introduced. The words teachers and law are used to describe those religious leaders. Those religious leaders were questioning Jesus authority. Over what? Jesus cleaned out the temple and called it a den of thieves.

Teachers and law are related words based on the fact, no one has authority to teach the law unless they know the law. The word know used in verse 33 is also related to authority. A teacher has no authority to teach any subject unless the know the subject. That is another reason the tree withered and died. The religious leaders that tree represented didn’t know what they were teaching.

Now go back and read the introduction. Notice how the key words are related to moving with Jesus and following His directions? There is also a contrast used. Now we see what the word tied is related to. The limited knowledge of those religious leaders. What about the fact that donkey was untied and returned? That is a deep lesson in God’s plan of salvation. Jesus came to this world to teach. In the early church the disciples were untied by Jesus when He explained how He fulfilled all those prophecies. After learning how to understand scripture, Jesus sent them back. Hence, the spiritual meaning of the donkey that was returned.


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