'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,'
and if you do not doubt in your heart
but believe what you say will come to pass,
it will be done for you." Mark 11:23
"So I say to you,
whatever you ask for in prayer,
believe that you have received it,
and it will be yours." Mark 11:24
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In Mark's gospel, the journey to Jerusalem and to the cross is particularly incessant and relentless. Jesus' assuring teaching on the power of speech, word, and prayer (also in Matthew 21:21-22) happens during his final trip to the Holy City, after he has cleansed the temple and cursed a barren fig tree (another subject for another blog on another day).
Jesus and the twelve have been on a perilous journey together. When he called followers, he asked them to follow him. They left their family fishing enterprise with its conventional, pre-planned days and expected outcomes to follow Jesus, although they couldn't have known the future.
Even reading silently or aloud from Mark's pages, we can feel it had been quite a trip. Although Mark opens his gospel by announcing, "The beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God," and close to the end, a Roman centurion declares Jesus "Son of God" [Mark 15:39], were there many or any clues along the way to suggest or affirm Jesus as God with them, God among us? We need to remember all the gospel accounts – even Mark, the earliest one – were written from scattered sources quite a while after Jesus' death and resurrection. In any case, back to say, our word for today.
Jesus is conversing about the power of speech, the effectiveness of words and communication. Would anyone want to send a mountain or a beachside cliff into the ocean? Hebrew literature long had been full of hyperbole! In the midst of your own turmoil, would you consider addressing an element of creation, suggesting it do your bidding? I don't know.
But I do know I love the "if - then" promises in this passage, especially pertaining to prayer.
• Do you pray without doubting?
• Do you say with believing?
• Do you pray knowing you've already received what you asked for?
• And do you then claim God's response as yours?
• You might enjoy this overview of Mark I wrote for my scripture blog.