Faith of a mustard seed

Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

Then there is the question of ‘receiving’ giving understanding to Mark’s ‘The Meaning Of The Withered Fig Tree’ (Mark 11:20-25). “So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

It is no small thing that the Jewish faith has persisted in it’s study and transmission of the original Old Testament language. Biblical Hebrew is taught, studied, and transmitted to the twelve year old child of the faith as a part of the Bar Mitzah tradition. I dare to consider myself a master consultant in the area of Children’s Ministries, an area so omissively neglected by the Black Church community. Among the programs that I have written is one which the twelve year old child of the Black Christian Church community would participate in an after school New Testament Biblical Greek language program. The dependency upon translations and sermon transmission of scripture has given rise to a spiritual impotence.

The word ‘receive’, then, is an excellent example of understanding being lost in translation. So many words in New Testament scripture that English translations all translate using the single word ‘receive’. Two of them, lambano and dexomai both have several variations at work in the Gospels— yet we never see anything but the word receive. While dexomai is most often a ‘passive’ usage of ‘receive’, lambano is fairly common in New Testament as an ‘active’ form and has the sense: ‘to grasp’; ‘to seize’; ‘of things that one has a claim to’; ‘to collect’; ‘to acquire’; ‘to lay firm hold of’; ‘to cleave to’; ‘to bring into one’s sphere’; ‘to hold fast’; ‘to understand’; ‘persistent grasp’; ‘intensive grasp’. Young references Jesus’ usage of ‘receive’ here as a part of the lambano word family. And yet, the actual word Jesus uses in giving meaning to the withered fig tree is ‘elabete’ and is found nowhere else!

Apart from New Testament Literary Criticism’s finding problems with this verse, look again! Again, Jesus is in ‘His Passion’— as His ‘last will and testament’ it is a most powerful eulogy— ‘receiving’ (the most rarest form of receiving, in fact) as a (re)action to prayer action!

Dr. R. C. Briggs (who wrote the book on New Testament Interpretation used by many seminarians) used to repeat in class as though driving it home— “you can’t accept the gift without The Giver!” What you receive through prayer is a gift from God, but, you must receive, must lay firm hold of, must cleave to the presence of God in the Gift.

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