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“I wish I had your faith”

As they passed by in the morning [Easter, AD33, Jerusalem], they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him [Jesus of Nazareth], “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God..........   Mark 11: 20-22


So Jersey’s first attempt at a (partial) all-Island election to the States of Jersey is all over for three years..... The Ministerial team was appointed earlier this week and Jersey has a new Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst.


Senator Gorst was elected by his fellow States members in preference to Senator Sir Philip Bailhache. Each States member could well be said to have placed “faith” in the Senator for whom each voted. And to have acted on that faith by voting for that man (whichever) as the man to be trusted.


But when the words “I wish I had your faith” are spoken they usually mean, “I wish I had faith like your faith” – as though it was faith itself that was the key whereas the key is really the object of that faith and trust.


The emphasis on “faith” itself as a desirable thing apart from the person or thing in whom or in which faith is placed reflects the culture that we’ve all unknowingly embraced. This is the culture that says that there is no objective truth but that what I see (or another person sees) as being true is indeed true, but true only for me or for that person.


It follows from that culture that one person can say of another “I wish I had your faith” and actually mean “I wish I had a faith that could believe in something that isn’t true but that I would then believe is true.”


That kind of faith wouldn’t have been much good in the States earlier this week. A States Member in that position would be saying, “Clearly some have faith in Senator Bailhache, some in Senator Gorst. I wish I had their faith.” For whom would he/she then have voted?


The folly of this becomes very real and very painful when we look at the AD33 incident in the life of Jesus Christ in bold above. This took place in the final week of Jesus’ life – a few days before he was crucified as a criminal – and a few days before, after entombment, he rose again.


Jesus had (the day before) cursed a fig-tree as he walked past it with his disciples going into Jerusalem. The reason? The tree did not have any fruit on it. Jesus destroying part of his creation? Strange, indeed. But he did.....


The real reason for that curse was that Jesus wanted his key followers to see the fig-tree as a parallel for their nation – for Israel as the people of God as well as Judah and its capital city, Jerusalem.


On many occasions in earlier centuries in the National Archives of Israel the nation had been referred to as a fig-tree or as a vine. This fig-tree was a national emblem. Because the nation was not bearing any true fruit towards Almighty God – the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ – it would die.


Look again at the words in bold above. Yes, the cursed fig-tree of yesterday had “withered away to its roots”.


You may well now ask a very good question. Did this withering away to its roots actually happen to Israel after AD 33? Yes. Very, very sadly, it did. In particular, in AD 70 the Romans totally destroyed Jerusalem and left it in a condition where a contemporary historian (Josephus) wrote that, even though one had arrived at Jerusalem, one was still asking the way to it.....


Therefore, Jesus’ disciples, some of whom would live through all this, needed to have faith – true and real faith. Not just “faith (in anything)”. “Have faith in God”, Jesus said. Faith in the God of Israel, the God who was disclosing himself to them anew through His Son, Jesus Christ.


He – God – Jesus Christ - would bring about salvation even in those terrible circumstances. He would create a new Israel, a new people of God.  He would do this through the amazing power of the cross a few days later.

 ‘Faith in Christ is a cognitive, passionate, and moral commitment to that which stands up under the scrutiny of the mind, the heart and the conscience.’ (Ravi Zacharias, Writer and Speaker, b. 1946)
‘My hope is built on nothing less/ Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;/ I dare not trust the sweetest frame,/ But wholly lean on Jesus’ name./ On Christ the solid rock I stand;/ All other ground is sinking sand.’ (Edward Mote, Pastor and Hymn Writer, 1797-1874)
Richard Syvret

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