Welcome back as we continue working through the Gospel According to Mark. Last week we covered Mark 10, where we saw Jesus clearly teach regarding marriage and divorce by reaching back all the way to Genesis 2. We are again reminded that Jesus came to die for our sin and then be raised up for our salvation.
Today, we’ll resume reading, beginning in Chapter 11 of the Gospel According to Mark.
Mark 11:1-11 (ESV) | The Triumphal Entry
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were 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!” And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.
In the future I’d like to get these devotional posts better lined up with the church year, but this one landed fairly closely. If you attend a liturgical church that moves through a lectionary, you probably read through this account or one of its parallels last week or the week prior. While this may seem an oddly specific request from Jesus, Matthew and John give us the reference to the following Prophecy:
Zechariah 9:9 (ESV) | The Coming King of Zion
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
It is so cool to see how completely Jesus fulfilled these prophecies and how once you see they are fulfilled in Him it becomes clear that these couldn’t possibly be about anyone else. Praise the LORD!
Mark 11:12-14 (ESV) | Jesus Curses the Fig Tree
On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.
When we worked through the parallel texts in Matthew, we spent a great deal of time pointing out how this encounter with the fig tree was prophetic, and it pointed to the religious leaders, the chief priests of Israel. They had a form of godliness (the leaves) but were not bearing fruit (faith in Christ Jesus). They were the fig tree that bore no fruit. This text is often used by unbelievers who seek to deny the Deity of Christ (Muslim and Atheist apologists and heretics who deny the Trinity) by accusing Jesus of being mistaken and not knowing it wasn’t the season for figs. Jesus knew, and this wasn’t about wanting figs nor was it about a prophet having a tantrum. Mark isn’t writing about the false teaching of the Pharisees here, he’s writing about the Authority of Jesus and his inclusion of the encounter with the fig tree is being used to build up to that moment.
Mark 11 (ESV) | Jesus Cleanses the Temple
And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. And when evening came they went out of the city.
Here, the fruitless tree seeks a way to destroy Jesus, for they feared Him.
Mark 11:15-19 (ESV) | The Lesson from the Withered Fig Tree
As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
Notice here that the object of faith isn’t faith itself, it is God. Don’t allow others to mix this teaching with the mustard seed reference where the end result is a focus on whether or not you have “enough faith” as if it were gasoline in a fuel tank. Jesus isn’t telling them they will somehow grow into a power of their own, He tells them to have faith in God. What is the fruit that was lacking in the fig tree? Faith. What are we asking for in prayer? Forgiveness by the Blood of Jesus. Don’t look inwardly for a sense of forgiveness or some emotional experience confirming what the Scriptures say… when you hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ proclaim you forgiven and set free, trust in His Word. And when you speak these words of forgiveness to your neighbor, trust in God’s Forgiveness for your neighbor as you do in your own forgiveness. Jesus is not merely teaching about signs and wonders to impress the kingdoms of this world, He’s preaching the Kingdom of Heaven.
Mark 11:20-33 (ESV) | The Authority of Jesus Challenged
And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him, and they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?” Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.” And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘From man’?”—they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
In refusing to confess Him as the Christ, they suppressed the truth in their own unrighteousness (Romans 1). Jesus’ authority came from Heaven, for He is God the Son. He came to set the captives free, not to rule over them in this temporal life, for His Kingdom is not of this world.
Philippians 2:1-11 (ESV) | Christ’s Example of Humility
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus didn’t need to verbally proclaim His Authority at this time, for God had already testified of Him as did the signs and wonders and teaching of Jesus. Those who had an ear to hear did hear, and eyes to see did see. His sheep heard His voice and believed. We are still doing so today, for as long as the LORD tarries.
Consider the cross this week, consider your sin, consider the humble sacrifice Jesus, God the son, made on our behalf, that we might be called Children of the Most High God. Until next week, spend time in the Written Word of God and do not forsake the gathering of the saints, hearing of the Preached Word… both Law and Gospel.
Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will,working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
In Christ Jesus,