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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood


Teacher and Rabbi

In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!” ?(Mark 11:20,21, NIV)

In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus is called “Teacher” twelve times and “Rabbi” four times. Let’s take a moment and learn from Jesus, our Teacher and Rabbi.

What does Jesus teach us? We know the answer when we examine all the occasions He is called Teacher.

He cares if we are drowning. His solutions may seem late to us, but we are to trust Him in our storms (4:38). We can continue to bother Him even when our situation looks hopeless (5:35). Jesus hears the cry of a distraught parent and has power to help (9:17). He includes more people in His work than we might allow (9:38), and He has the answer about how to attain eternal life (10:17). He loves the person who may falsely feel he or she has done everything right (10:25). He answers our striving for self-promotion with a question that seeks our servanthood (10:35), and He tells us our duty to the government (12:14). What will our immortal bodies be like? He knows (12:19). He affirms there is but one God (12:32). He knows the destiny of planet earth (13:1). Jesus desires times alone with us (14:14).

I’ve heard it said that a teacher is someone who passes along what is in his or her notes to the student’s notes without it going through the head of either. Certainly, this does not apply to Jesus. He, as Teacher, never gives us useless information. We can build our lives and our eternal futures on what He says.

Rabbi serves as a more intense term than Teacher. Probably in shock from beholding His glory in the Transfiguration, Peter blurts out, “Rabbi” (9:5). Blind Bartimaeus earnestly calls to Him, “Rabbi, I want to see” (10:51). Here, in the cursing of the fig tree, Peter again is in shock and marvel as he calls Him Rabbi (11:21). While ardently kissing Jesus at the betrayal, Judas addresses Him as Rabbi (14:45).

On all four occasions Jesus is called Rabbi, we see profound emotion or wonder in those who addressed Him. However, look at the difference between Peter and Judas in calling Him Rabbi. By this point in Jesus’ ministry, Peter knew He was far more than Rabbi. Months earlier, Peter had called Him the Christ (or Messiah; see 8:29). Is Peter wavering in his understanding of Jesus? And Judas calls Jesus Rabbi. If he really believed that about Jesus, he would not have betrayed Him.

Even today there are those who, like Peter, should know that Jesus is more than what He is called; and there are others who call Him by a high title like Lord or Savior but don’t really believe — by their words or actions — that He is either.

Jesus cursed the fig tree, and Mark’s Gospel notes it was “withered from the roots.” The overnight change in the fig tree symbolizes the transfer Jesus makes from the old covenant to the new. He did not come to make cosmetic changes to the old covenant, but to replace it from its roots.

It’s the same with us. Just as Jesus withered the tree at its root, so He attacks our sin nature at the root within us. He wants to eradicate everything in us that doesn’t bear fruit.

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, You are interested in the root issues of life. Destroy the rottenness in my human sinful nature just as You destroyed the unproductive fig tree.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

On Your Mark

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2013 On Your Mark

2012 On Your Mark

2011 On Your Mark

2010 On Your Mark

2009 On Your Mark

2008 On Your Mark

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