The Withered Fig Tree - Mark 11:12-14 & 20-26 (The Message) 12-14 As they left Bethany the next day, he was hungry. Off in the distance he saw a fig tree in full leaf. He came up to it expecting to find something for breakfast, but found nothing but fig leaves. (It wasn’t yet the season for figs.) He addressed the tree: “No one is going to eat fruit from you again—ever!” And his disciples overheard him.
20-21 In the morning, walking along the road, they saw the fig tree, shriveled to a dry stick. Peter, remembering what had happened the previous day, said to him, “Rabbi, look—the fig tree you cursed is shriveled up!”
22-25 Jesus was matter-of-fact: “Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you. This mountain, for instance: Just say, ‘Go jump in the lake’—no shuffling or shilly-shallying—and it’s as good as done. That’s why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you’ll get God’s everything. And when you assume the posture of prayer, remember that it’s not all asking. If you have anything against someone, forgive—only then will your heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins.”
The Power of Faith - Mark 11:12-14 & 20-26 (NCV) 12 The next day as Jesus was leaving Bethany, he became hungry. 13 Seeing a fig tree in leaf from far away, he went to see if it had any figs on it. But he found no figs, only leaves, because it was not the right season for figs. 14 So Jesus said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And Jesus’ followers heard him say this.
20 The next morning as Jesus was passing by with his followers, they saw the fig tree dry and dead, even to the roots. 21 Peter remembered the tree and said to Jesus, “Teacher, look! The fig tree you cursed is dry and dead!”
22 Jesus answered, “Have faith in God. 23 I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, fall into the sea.’ And if you have no doubts in your mind and believe that what you say will happen, God will do it for you. 24 So I tell you to believe that you have received the things you ask for in prayer, and God will give them to you. 25 When you are praying, if you are angry with someone, forgive him so that your Father in heaven will also forgive your sins. [ 26 But if you don’t forgive other people, then your Father in heaven will not forgive your sins.]”
* This passage is also found in Matthew 21:18-22
Jesus Curses a Fig Tree = Matthew 21:18-22 Background about the Passage The story of Jesus cursing the fig tree happens on Monday and Tuesday morning of Passion Week (the week that Jesus died). The story that takes place sandwiched in between the two encounters of the fig tree is the story of Jesus turning over the tables in the temple courts. Jesus on Sunday rode triumphantly into Jerusalem the day before where He was worshipped by the people.
Setting the Scene In the final week of Jesus’ life, He is giving His disciples final insights into God’s kingdom. A tree full of leaves normally should have fruit, but this one was cursed because it had no fruit. The tree in which Jesus’ cursed was total destruction. No one in the future would ever eat fruit from that tree again.
Jesus and His disciples were standing on top of the Mount of Olives and the Dead Sea was visible from their location. Jesus was showing them a visible image of the lack of faith people might have in Him for the future.
Jesus Curses a Fig Tree = Matthew 21:18-22 Points you could make
Jesus’ anger was out of righteousness, He was not sinning. Jesus (being fully God and fully man) can have a righteous anger without it being sin. Jesus wants to change what was wrong with people’s view of God and the world.
Faith requires action. Often we look at faith as a separate entity in our lives that has no influence in other parts of our lives. That is wrong. James says, “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:17, NIV).
There are often stories or markers of true faith in our lives. These stories are significant, because they tell the lasting faith of Jesus Christ in our lives.
It is okay at times to have doubt in our walk with Jesus. We need to be people that push through to find answers to our doubting questions. There might not be answers to all of your questions about Jesus. That is where faith comes in. Hebrews 11:1 NCV - Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it.
How do you think faith shapes our lives, or does faith shape our lives? Why or why not? What ways have you seen it or not seen it shape our lives?
Why do think that Jesus cursed the fig tree in the first place? Was Jesus’ action justified?
What would the memory of the people that saw the fig tree day in and day out after this story?
What mark do you think Jesus was trying to have in the lives of these people?
Media You can use this Clip from the TV Show Friday night lights. Look under Year Three Club talks and the Club Talk with the same name and you will find it.
The Adulterous Woman - John 7:53-8:11
John 7:53-8:11 - NIV 53 Then they all went home, 8 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
John 7:53-8:11 - NCV 53 And everyone left and went home.
The Woman Caught in Adultery 1 Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 But early in the morning he went back to the Temple, and all the people came to him, and he sat and taught them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery. They forced her to stand before the people. 4 They said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught having sexual relations with a man who is not her husband. 5 The law of Moses commands that we stone to death every woman who does this. What do you say we should do?” 6 They were asking this to trick Jesus so that they could have some charge against him.
But Jesus bent over and started writing on the ground with his finger. 7 When they continued to ask Jesus their question, he raised up and said, “Anyone here who has never sinned can throw the first stone at her.” 8 Then Jesus bent over again and wrote on the ground.
9 Those who heard Jesus began to leave one by one, first the older men and then the others. Jesus was left there alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus raised up again and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one judged you guilty?”
11 She answered, “No one, sir.”
Then Jesus said, “I also don’t judge you guilty. You may go now, but don’t sin anymore.”
John 7:53-8:12 The Message
52-53 But they cut him off. “Are you also campaigning for the Galilean? Examine the evidence. See if any prophet ever comes from Galilee.”
Then they all went home.
To Throw the Stone 8 1-2 Jesus went across to Mount Olives, but he was soon back in the Temple again. Swarms of people came to him. He sat down and taught them.
3-6 The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him.
6-8 Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt.
9-10 Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?”
11 “No one, Master.”
“Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.”
The Adulterous Woman - John 7:53-8:11 Background about the Passage The opposition Jesus was encountering at this point of His ministry was common. You will see multiple cases in chapters 7&8 of the Gospel of John or opposition against Jesus. For someone to be charged with adultery, in Jesus’ day, there would have had to be eyewitnesses to the crime. Which means, whoever brought the woman to Jesus, saw the act happening.
The trap – the Romans did not allow the Jews to carry out a death sentence, so if Jesus has said to stone her, he could have been in conflict with the Romans. If He had said not to stone her, he could have been accused of being unsupportive of the Jewish law. The elders bringing the woman to Jesus were trying to put Jesus in a no win situation. No matter what side Jesus made, He was going to make one side angry. The amazing thing about Jesus, He does something that there is no category for.
Setting the Scene The Jewish law said that if anyone was caught in the act of adultery, that his or her sentence was death by stoning. The act of adultery requires two people, yet only the woman was brought before Jesus. Where was the man?
The phrase Jesus says, “without Sin”, means without any Sin. Which is something none of us can live a life without any Sin. Sin is in the DNA of us as human. Sin has always been with us.
The woman was taken, most likely forcefully, out in front of all of the most important people of Jesus day. She did not have any or very little clothing on. She was most likely trembling with fear, knowing the punishment for her action was death and was going to die by stoning.
Many people when giving this talk get to focus on what Jesus writes on the ground. The idea of the passage is not what Jesus writes on the ground, but how the crowd reacts (by walking away) to what was written on the ground. It is important to reference it, but that is it. We don’t know what He wrote on the ground. We do know the outcome of what He wrote.
In the culture when Jesus was alive, that idea of respecting your elders was very important. People looked to the older people of their world for wisdom. They wanted to do act of those that had gone before them. When the oldest in the crowd drop their rocks and walk away, so did everyone lese, because the followed the lead of their elders.
The Adulterous Woman - John 7:53-8:11 Points you could make
Sin is an eternal separation from God. Sin creates the absence of Love, Joy and Peace; with Hate, Fear, Despair and Worry. You don’t have to look far around our world to see things that show us Hate, Fear, Despair and Worry.
We see sins (little s for sin) as the consequences of our sin condition (big S for sin). The conditional sin goes back to Adam and Eve eating fruit from the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden. God kicked out Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.
Jesus choses to forgive the sins of the woman. The reason that Jesus can forgive the woman’s sin and our sin is that He is God. Only God and God alone can forgive sin.
Jesus commands the woman to “Go now and leave your life of sin.” This is easier said than done. For this transformation to occur, she would need to leave and family, friends and circumstance that might be connect to her own life of sin. Jesus gives us this same commandment, to leave our lives of sin and follow Him. Show kids what it means to leave your life of sin.
What is Sin and how so you see Sin affecting the world around us? Where did Sin come from?
Why where the religious leaders trying to trap Jesus? Has anyone in your life tried to trap you, like they did with Jesus?
What do you think Jesus was writing in the sand? Do you think what He was writing was important to the story? Why or why?
Why does Jesus forgive the woman caught in adultery? If you were Jesus, would you have forgiven the women? Why or why not?
How do you think the woman’s life was changed by her encounter with Jesus? What was different about her life after this story?
Cross Talk = 1 John 4:7-11 & 13-15
God’s Love and Ours
1 John 4:7-11 & 13-15
NIV 7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.
Love Comes from God 1 John 4:7-11 & 13-15
NCV 7 Dear friends, we should love each other, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has become God’s child and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love to us: He sent his one and only Son into the world so that we could have life through him. 10 This is what real love is: It is not our love for God; it is God’s love for us. He sent his Son to die in our place to take away our sins.
11 Dear friends, if God loved us that much we also should love each other.
13 We know that we live in God and he lives in us, because he gave us his Spirit. 14 We have seen and can testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God has God living inside, and that person lives in God.
God Is Love
1 John 4:7-11 & 13-15
The Message 7-10 My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.
11-12 My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!
13-16 This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.
Cross Talk = 1 John 4:7-11 & 13-15 Background about the Passage John, who was one of Jesus disciples and was an eyewitness of Jesus death on the cross, writes this passage. 1 John was written late in John’s life and he is reflecting back and on the ministry he had with Jesus. If you were going to write your last words about Jesus, 1, 2 & 3 John would be these letters.
Setting the Scene Love completes the picture of a life in fellowship with God. Love is presented here as a consequence of, not a precondition for, being born of God. Unbelievers can love others to some degree, but not in the way that God’s indwelling presence enables Christians to love.
Points you could make
The true essence of God is love. Love is the core of who God is. Love is the essential nature in all of God’s actions. God continually loves and pursues us, even is we turn our backs to Him.
There was love between the persons of the Trinity (the Father, Son & Holy Spirit) even before the world began. Before we were created, God loved us. When God created you and I, he said it (meaning us) was very good.
We get to see God’s character in His love for us by sending Jesus into the world the replace our debt of sin in the eyes of God. The ultimate loving sacrifice is one person laying down his or her life for another. This is what Jesus di with us. He laid down His life for all human kind.
To love is to be known and to be known is to be loved. We were created to love others and have others love us. God wants us to love Jesus and be known by Jesus before anyone else in this world.
The reason we can love others the way God intended, is only through Jesus Christ. All other forms of love shown to other, apart from God’s way, is not true love. The presence and activity of the Holy Spirit within Christians are evidence that they are abiding in God.
How would you define Love? Why is love important? How does love shape our lives and our world?
How does love cause change in our world? Give examples.
Can you truly love others if you don’t know God? Agree or disagree and why?
What does Jesus’ death on the cross show us about love?
What do you think of the following phrase, “To love is to be known and to be known is to be loved.” Is this statement true? If so how have you experienced this in your own life or have you, yet?
Peter’s Love for Jesus = John 21:1-14
Jesus and the Miraculous Catch of Fish - John 21:1-14 (NIV) 21 Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. 9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
Fishing - John 21:1-14
(The Message) 1-3 After this, Jesus appeared again to the disciples, this time at the Tiberias Sea (the Sea of Galilee). This is how he did it: Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed “Twin”), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the brothers Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. Simon Peter announced, “I’m going fishing.”
3-4 The rest of them replied, “We’re going with you.” They went out and got in the boat. They caught nothing that night. When the sun came up, Jesus was standing on the beach, but they didn’t recognize him.
5 Jesus spoke to them: “Good morning! Did you catch anything for breakfast?”
They answered, “No.”
6 He said, “Throw the net off the right side of the boat and see what happens.”
They did what he said. All of a sudden there were so many fish in it, they weren’t strong enough to pull it in.
7-9 Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Master!”
When Simon Peter realized that it was the Master, he threw on some clothes, for he was stripped for work, and dove into the sea. The other disciples came in by boat for they weren’t far from land, a hundred yards or so, pulling along the net full of fish. When they got out of the boat, they saw a fire laid, with fish and bread cooking on it.
10-11 Jesus said, “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught.” Simon Peter joined them and pulled the net to shore—153 big fish! And even with all those fish, the net didn’t rip.
12 Jesus said, “Breakfast is ready.” Not one of the disciples dared ask, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Master.
13-14 Jesus then took the bread and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus had shown himself alive to the disciples since being raised from the dead.