I’m working through Mark 11:1-33 and am seeing such a richness of thought that is deeply imbedded in this chapter that isn’t at first obvious. One of the main themes that comes out of this is that of God’s plans and purposes. There is a contextual framework within Biblical / Jewish literature of the purpose of numbers. And it appears that the number three represents God’s plans and purposes.
And in this chapter the author seems to use a repetitive structure based around 3’s. Jesus enters Jerusalem 3 times. Jesus speaks prophetically 3 times. Jesus enters into Jerusalem the first time being proclaimed by the people as the promised messiah, and proceeds in his next two entrances to cleanse the temple and rebuke the religious leaders through asking them about whose authority did John the Baptist minister… which I wrote about here which interestingly shows that baptism had to have 3 witnesses.
However I digress. I was looking at the following passage, which follows on from Peter expressing amazement that the fig tree that Jesus cursed was now dead…
Mar 11:22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God.
Mar 11:23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.
Mar 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Mar 11:25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
I decided to have a look at verse 22 in greek, και αποκριθεις ο ιησους λεγει αυτοις εχετε πιστιν θεου which translated reads.. And answering Jesus says to them; possessing the faith of God.
This then throws up some deep linguistic issues, not to mention other issues in how this verse is often translated. Certainly it seems that “Have faith in God, is the right contextual meaning. However the greek does seem to say that it’s “God’s Faith or Faith of God.” I then looked up an Interlinear Greek Testament which also translated it as the same.
While it does appear to be clumsy, contextually it fits better within a contextual and pastoral basis. Contextually it fits as it shows that all Jesus is doing in this chapter fits into the plans and purposes of God. Jesus is often reported elsewhere saying that he can only do what he see’s his father doing. Which means that the father is giving Jesus the faith to do what he does and that he can’t do anything off his own bat or initiative.
Further more according to Mounce, the greek word ἀμὴν (Amen) which is translated “Truly” in the beginning of verse 23 can also be rendered – So let it be.
Therefore I propose that the verse should read.. Possessing the faith of God, so let it be – I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him
Furthermore this passage then ties into the gift of Faith listed in Corinthians; which is the gift that God imparts to the believer to do a miraculous deed within a specific circumstance. This means we can relax and stop trying to work up a faith that we don’t have. It’s not telling us that we can ask God for anything and everything and expect it to happen…indeed that is not faith, its actually presumption. Instead, my paraphrase of this passage is,
God will give you the faith that is needed to achieve his plans and purposes. Therefore stop your doubting, do what I tell you to do, ask the father to continue to help you to do what he wants you to do and he will help you. And by the way…the purpose of the father is for the forgiveness of sins…and I want you to live a life of forgiveness also.
Which is in keeping with the whole context of the purposes and plans of God.