Lesson 12: Mark -Chapter 11
First read Mark 11 all the way through.
The ‘Supernatural’ Acts and Events in Mark 11
Things you don’t see everyday:
-Jesus prophetically knows about the colt and predicts the response.
Verses 13, 20:
-Jesus curses a fig tree. It is withered the next time they see it.
Now read it again in detail along with the Notes and Commentary below:
Notes and Commentary:
I. Jesus and The Colt –Verses 1-7
Jesus tells his disciples about a colt in the next village that he needs and predicts the response. Can you imagine what an uproar there would be today if some strangers came into your neighborhood and tried to take a car? Then said that some visiting preacher needed it? The event turned out just as Jesus predicted, and the faith of the disciples would have been increased in the process. Which was important, considering the events ahead.
II. The Triumphal Entry of Jesus Into Jerusalem –Verses 8-11
Jesus rides the colt into Jerusalem as branches are spread before him and with disciples going before and after him shouting:
… “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”
What an incredible scene that must have been. It was a direct fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9:
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
With people obviously treating Jesus like the conquering Messiah coming in to rule in Jerusalem, one could say that this was the ‘high point’ of his ministry. In the midst of it all, the disciples were probably saying to themselves- ‘it is about time.’ After all, Jesus had told them it was time for him to go to Jerusalem. But they were not listening to him when he told them that he was going to be killed, they believed that it was time for him to take over and rule and their actions coming into Jerusalem revealed what they were thinking:
“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!
Finally Jesus was going to fulfill all of the prophecies about taking over the nation and kicking out the oppressors. They continued to completely ignore what Jesus had told them about his impending death and Resurrection. Jesus goes straight to the temple and looks around at everything, then leaves and spends the night at Bethany.
You can almost hear the air going out of the expectation of the disciples as Jesus just looks around, does nothing and says nothing, and them leaves. In my mind’s eye I can see the twelve trying to catch up with Jesus as he turns around and leaves looking at each other with a surprised ‘what now?’ expression.
You can bet that the loud prophetic entrance was not lost upon the religious leaders who would have viewed the event as a direct challenge to their authority. After all, Jesus and his entourage went straight to the temple and it looked like there was going to be some kind of confrontation since they had a huge crowd with them.
You could probably hear a pin drop among the priests and scribes as they held their breaths wondering what Jesus was going to do next along with the huge crowd following him. You can almost still hear their sigh of relief when he turned around and left without saying or doing a thing. But the event would have left them with a new conviction that something needed to be done about this Jesus and soon.
Meanwhile, Jesus hurriedly leaves the temple and Jerusalem behind and as he does the huge crowd following him dissipates in disappointment leaving only his regular followers with him as he spends the night at Bethany. Maybe at Mary, Martha, and Lazarus’ place.
The disciples probably spent the evening talking among themselves wondering what had just happened. They had rallied a huge crowd in Jerusalem and could have taken over the temple but Jesus just turned around and left.
III. Jesus Curses a Fig Tree -Verses 12-14
The next day while leaving Bethany, the passage tells us that Jesus was hungry and seeing a fig tree in the distance went to it to get some fruit, but it was barren with nothing but leaves.
The text tells us it was not really the season for fig trees to bear fruit. Nevertheless, Jesus cursed the fig tree and proclaimed that no one would ever eat from it again. The disciples witnessed this and probably wondered along with us why Jesus would curse an ‘out of season’ tree. It makes no sense. So what is this really all about? Why did Jesus curse the tree, and what is the significance of this event?
First of all, the ’fig tree’ was one of the symbols for the nation of Israel. As the fig tree in this passage had an abundance of leaves but no fruit; so also Israel with its huge temple appeared to be serving God but had no real Godly fruit in season or out.
The religious leaders were more concerned about their own positions, authority, and riches and had very little care for the people or God they were supposed to be serving. As Jesus had cursed the tree, so also would he curse Israel and its fine temple–the day would come that “not one stone would be left upon another…” (Mark 13:2).
IV. Jesus Spends the Day in Jerusalem and Clears the Temple –Verses 15-19
Verses 15-16: Jesus overturns the tables and the booths of business in the temples. There were actual businesses selling animals and products for temple sacrifice. There was even a money changing booth, because the Roman money with the image of Caesar on it was considered a sacrilege. That money had to be exchanged for ‘temple’ coins. Apparently, these businesses were not entirely honest, and actually cheated the people who came to worship in God’s temple.
When I view this scene in my mind, I see Judas right behind Jesus picking up some of the coins that were spilled on the ground until Jesus stared directly at him. Judas was the ‘treasurer’ for the small Jesus group but probably looked forward to supervising the Temple treasury one day and the wealth that came along with that position. Part of that was earned by these very tables which had become a tradition in the courtyard of the House of God.
Verse 17: Jesus was full of righteous indignation and quoted from the prophets. “Is it not written: My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it a den of robbers.”:
7… for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. –Is. 56:7
11 Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the Lord. –Jer.7:11
Jesus stayed all day in the temple teaching. The Greek word here denotes a regular extended systematic teaching, rather than just this is proclamation.
Verse 18: The chief priests observed the actions of Jesus and heard his teaching and were particularly concerned about the large crowd that were following him. They were trying to figure out a way to stop him and even kill him but they were afraid of all the people who seemed to be hanging on every word he was teaching.
Jesus was challenging their authority and the people seemed to be going along with it. He had obviously put a dent in their income that day, but worse, there was an obvious threat that he and his group might replace them as the major religious leaders in Israel and the temple. Then they would lose their positions of power along with their income.
They were using their positions to gain vast amounts of wealth through cheating temple worshippers and this Jesus unveiled their fraudulent and unscriptural practices to the people. They were now ready to do anything to get rid of Jesus, even kill him. But to do that they would have to come up with some reason to go to the Romans since they did not have the legal authority to administer capitol punishment
Verse 19: When evening came, Jesus and his disciples left the city once more. Probably back to Bethany where they had lots of friends and some degree of protection.
V. Lessons from the Withered Fig Tree –Verses 20-26
The next morning, Jesus and his disciples pass by the fig tree that Jesus had cursed the day before and it was withered. Jesus uses this example as an object for teaching ‘faith’ to his group. The disciples were amazed that the word of Jesus against the tree had been fulfilled so quickly.
Verses 22-24: Have faith and you can remove mountains, believe and what you pray for will be given to you? This really isn’t a matter of ‘claiming’ what you want and if you have enough faith you will receive it. One could never ‘work’ hard enough to get this kind of effective faith–that is, the kind that literally moves mountains.
That kind of faith comes only through the Holy Spirit. It is God given faith in order to achieve God given tasks and goals which he inspires. Actually this scripture supports that it is only God’s faith that can really move mountains. Although most of the versions of the Bible translate the Greek at the beginning of verse 22:
Ekete pistin theou
to read- “Have faith in God.”
The literal Greek is far different and probably does not make sense to most scholars:
“Have faith of God.” or “Have (the) faith of God.”
Theou (God) in the Greek is ‘possessive’ here- Therefore it is God’s faith that you must have if you are going to move mountains. The only way you can get the God type of faith is directly from God.
One of the lessons here is that you can ask God and specifically the Holy Spirit for greater faith when needed. Remember the father in Mark 9 who wanted Jesus to cast a demon out of his son:
…But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him,
“‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”
24 Immediately the father of the child cried out[a] and said,
“I believe; help my unbelief!” –Mark 9:22-25
When we need greater faith, we can always ask God for more- to give us what we need from his unlimited supply.
There are many stories in the scriptures that demonstrates that God gives people the privilege to play a major part in the process by stepping out in faith. e.g.: Elijah calls down fire from heaven; Jonathan attacks a whole army of Philistines with just his armor bearer; David battles Goliath, etc. The Father honors those who seek a greater faith and relationship with him.
Verse 25: Jesus teaches another important lesson in this verse. If you do want your prayers to be answered, make sure you have forgiven everyone and have no grudges against anyone. Then the Heavenly Father will be able to forgive you also; and you will be in a better relationship with God, having nothing to obstruct and to get in the way of your prayers being fulfilled. With a greater relationship with God, you can seek and ask for greater God given faith and results.
VI. The Authority of Jesus is challenged Once More –Verses 27-33
Jesus and his disciples enter the temple once more and are confronted by a group of ‘chief priests’, teachers, and elders. They ask Jesus:
“By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?”
Jesus answers them by asking them a question on the origin of John the Baptist’s ministry:
“…was it from God or men? Tell me.”
Notice that the priests are only concerned about their own positions and the opinion of the people. They really don’t seem to care whether the ministry of John, or Jesus for that matter, was ordained by God. So they claim not to know. Therefore Jesus refused to answer their question since they were really not looking for an answer. They had already made up their minds about Jesus and wouldn’t have believed what he said if he told them anyway.
Over and over again for three years Jesus had demonstrated his Godly authority to many of those same leaders through healings and miracles that only true prophets and servants of God had done in the past. Yet they continued to question him about authority? Some of them had even suggested that he had done everything by the power of Satan instead of God.
In claiming not to know they actually condemned themselves and the conversation was over. They were trying to trip up and judge Jesus, but in the process, they themselves were tested and found wanting in God’s own temple.
-Read: Mark 12 for the next lesson.