Review of Mark 11

Review of Mark 11

by Victor Fawole

I want to appreciate and celebrate everyone who has been consistent and devoted to our #NoBibleNoBreakfast activity. Our Good Lord will see to it that we stay and enjoy a high level of flourishing and freshness in Jesus’ Name. Amen. Let us go through Mark 11 together. In the previous chapters, Jesus had taught His disciples, repeatedly, about His mission, suffering, death, and resurrection. This chapter begins the final week of Jesus’ earthly life. So, let’s visit the chapter together…

Mark 11:8-10 And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way. And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.

Indeed a triumphant entry! There were two crowds, a group in front, and the other group behind. For much of His earthly ministry, Jesus was despised and rejected by the religious people. Even the crowds that followed Him did so for what they could get from Him. Only a few personally committed to Him. But this particular day was different – they gave Him their attention and honour. Majority of them used their clothes as red carpet for the colt He rode on. Others used palm fronds.

Jesus rode into Jerusalem so as to openly declare to the people that He was their King and the Messiah they had been waiting for. He did it in fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy.

Zechariah 9:9 “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

They shouted “Hosanna”, which means “save now!”, which was exactly His mission, although not in the way that they had expected. They wanted a political saviour but Jesus knew that what they needed was a Spiritual Saviour. He was going to purge their sins, not to overthrow their political oppressors. They were speaking of His Messianic Kingdom but did not know that the cross must come before the crown, or that it was a future literal kingdom. Glory be to Jesus – our Saviour and God!

Mark 11:12-14
And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry: And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.

People have raised questions as to why Jesus had to curse this fig tree despite the fact that it wasn’t its season yet. Some people claim that Jesus was angry because he was hungry. That is absolutely ridiculous! Actually, the tree was a picture of false righteousness, having leaves but no figs. The problem is that it had leaves but didn’t have figs. Whereas, a fig tree normally does not have leaves without also having figs. It claimed to have fruit, but did not. The insight we gain from this is that Israel portrayed themselves as “righteous” but didn’t actually have the righteousness of God. Their show of piety was all external, but they were defiled internally. They gave an outward and visible appearance of great spirituality and devotion to God but were full-blown hypocrites!

A quick one to note here: Those who uphold the doctrine of “God cannot kill” really need to rethink their theology. Here we have Jesus, in Whom dwells the fullness of Godhead, “destroying” life. They will probably have to tear out this portion from their Bibles because it involved “destruction of life”. This tree dried up literally, not figuratively. The wrath of God exists, the destruction from God exists; however, all believers are saved from His (coming) wrath/destruction!

Mark 11:15-17
And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.

Corruption on repeat – exactly what was going on in the temple! The temple area was filled with “profiteers” who connived with the priests to extort pilgrims by forcing them to buy “approved sacrificial animals” (doves) and currencies at inflated prices. Think of the drama happening with dollars and naira. Now, imagine it happening with something as sacrilegious as “atonement”. Hmmm… Every Jewish male had to pay a yearly temple tax. It had to be paid in the currency of the temple, and the bureau de change sold temple money at outrageous rates. Extortion. Bribery. Greed. Dishonesty. Jesus justified His actions by quoting from Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11, re-emphasizing that He’s the Messiah. Guess the reactions of the religious guys?

Mark 11:18 When the leading priests and teachers of religious law heard what Jesus had done, they began planning how to kill him. But they were afraid of him because the people were so amazed at his teaching.

They wanted to kill Him! He don “spoil market” for them!

Notice the progression. Jesus went into the Temple and “looked around carefully at everything”. He had seen the corruption going on, but He left because it was evening already. The next day, He cursed the religious hypocrisy of the Jews. And then went into the Temple to demonstrate His displeasure by “shaking tables” (He actually overthrew them!).

Mark 11:27-28 And they come again to Jerusalem: and as he was walking in the temple, there come to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders, and say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?

It is only by an “another-level” kind of courage can someone drive out the corrupt traders from the temple courts. Jesus gave the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders something to worry about. They wanted to know who gave Him the right to do such things. They were the “big boys” of religion, and they wanted to know what Jesus “carried”. They were literally saying: Show us your certificate! They had initially accused Him of getting His authority from Satan. They had also asked Him for a sign from heaven. Now they need His credentials. They want to destroy Him, ensnare Him, embarrass Him, and discredit Him.

It was typical of teachers and philosophers to respond to a question with a question. Jesus was not evading their question, He only exposed their heart and motives. His question put them in a dilemma. They had to choose between two options, both of which are unpleasant and difficult. He wanted them to “shoot themselves in the leg”. John was popular with the people and they believed that his ministry was given by God. He only had divine credentials, no human credentials. So, if John was from God, then John was right about Jesus, and Jesus was truly the Messiah. If what John said was true, then Jesus had all authority, and there was no need for human endorsement. They could have accused John of being authorized by men and not God, but they were afraid of the violent outburst of the people that will most likely follow.

They were not willing to acknowledge Jesus’ God-given authority even if they saw it. Their “escape route” was to tell a lie: “We don’t know.” Wow!

Mark 11:33 So they finally replied, “We don’t know.” And Jesus responded, “Then I won’t tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Interesting! Jesus chose not to answer them, although He answered them perfectly. By tomorrow, we will read the continuation of this episode in Mark 12.

Grace to you. Amen.

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