12. On the following day, when they had come away from Bethany, He realized that He was hungry.
13. And, seeing in the distance a fig tree covered with leaves, He went to see if He could find any edible fruit on it (in fig trees, fruit appears at the same time as the leaves). But when He came right up to it, He found nothing but leaves, because the natural fig season had not yet arrived.
14. And, immediately reacting to this natural limitation, He calmly said to it, "Fig tree, no one will ever eat fruit from you again." And His disciples overheard what He said.
15. So they kept on walking, and as they came to Jerusalem, He went again into the Temple area. And as He entered the porches and courts, acting on instinct, He began to personally and violently drive out those who sold and bought in the temple area, overturning the four-footed tables of the money changers and the seats of those who dealt in doves for sacrifice.
16. He wouldn't even permit anyone to carry any household equipment through the Temple enclosure, because it turned the temple area into a short-cut traffic lane, and contributed to the general disrespect that the public had for such a sacred place.
17. And He began to declare to them, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations?' But you have denigrated this hallowed place...a place set aside for such universal worship...into nothing more than a den of petty robbers!"
18. And the religious leaders and the scribes got wind of this occurrence, and, as a result, became more aggressive in seeking some way to destroy Him. They feared Him, intensely, because the entire population was awe-struck at His revolutionary and revelatory teaching.
19. And when evening came, He and His disciples, as was their custom, went out of the city.
20. In the morning, when they were passing along, they noticed that the fig tree He had so casually spoken to was completely withered away, dead down to its roots.
21. And Peter remembered it right away and said to Him, "Master, look! The fig tree which You sentenced to barrenness has withered away!
22. And Jesus, replying, said to them all, "Realize that you have the very faith of God resident within you...don't just try to 'have faith in God'...embrace, instead, the inherent God-faith that you already have.
23. Let Me reveal this truth to you...you're impressed with what happened to the fig tree, but the fact is that you have the power and ability to say to this entire mountain, "Be lifted up and be thrown into the sea!", and see it obey you! You've seen me actually speak to a storm...or command the dead to live again...well, in the same way, if you can connect the God-kind of faith that is in your own heart with the creative ability that is in your own mouth...if you say what you believe, and believe what you say...you can produce these kinds of results!
24. This is why I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer...whatever you decree...BELIEVE...accept the reality that it exists in another, unseen dimension, simply because you say it. Don't suspend or delay belief until you see it manifested in the physical realm, because what is unseen is more real than what is seen. Be confident that your request is granted to you, and you will get it...your own irresistible faith will attract it to you.
25. But when you enter into a season of prayer, remember that it's meant to be much more than simply making a list of declarations and petitions. Your prayer-life is more about changing you than it is about getting God to change things for you. It's about creating personal transformation so that you can change what needs to be changed in the world around you. So, for that reason, prayer should affect your horizontal relationships, as much as it does your vertical relationship...that's why I tell you that whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone at all, you need to forgive him or her and just let it drop...leave the past in the past...let it go so that you can pray in the now, without having all the emotional baggage from yesterday drag you backwards. When you set these things in order, it's as if your Father Who is in heaven is forgiving you your own failings and shortcomings, and letting them drop, leaving you mentally and emotionally cleansed from distractions.
26. But if you do not forgive, you set negative, universal laws into motion that prevent you from receiving the blessing of forgiveness from your Father in the heavenly realm."
27. And they came once again to Jerusalem, but this time the religious leaders, Scribes and Elders were there in the Temple. So when Jesus was walking around in the courts and porches of the Temple area, they came to Him;
28. And they said to Him, "We want to know by what authority are You doing these things...who gave You the right to do them?"
29. Jesus said to them, "I will answer your question with another question. If you can give Me a legitimate answer, I will tell you by what authority I do these things.
30. Was the baptism of John a supernatural product of the heavenly realm, or was it simply a man-made ritual? Tell Me what you think.
31. And they stepped aside and conferred and argued with one another, saying, "If we admit that we think it was heavenly, no doubt He will say, 'Why then didn't you believe him?'
32. On the other hand, how can we say that we think it was merely an idea that originated from the mind of a man?" They knew they couldn't say that because they were afraid of the people, and practically everyone considered and held John to be a prophet.
33. So they came back to Jesus and said, "We don't know what to tell You." And Jesus said to them, "Fair enough...so neither am I going to tell you by what sort of authority have I done and do these things."