Heavenly Father, this is the time for us to sit at Your feet and listen to You. Teach us so that we may teach others, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Mark 11 takes us to the passion week, the last 7 days of Jesus’ earthly life.
Mark: 11: 1- 33
VV 1- 10, 1 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”4 They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5 some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. 7 When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, ‘’Hosanna!’’ ‘’Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” 10 ‘’ Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” ‘’Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
All 4 gospels recorded the triumphal entry. Jesus entered Jerusalem to triumph over sin. On Palm Sunday, 7 days before Easter, Jesus arrived at Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olive. Bethphage means ‘’house of unripe figs” and Bethany means ‘’house of figs”. This was the first time Jesus allowed Himself to be proclaimed as Messiah publicly. This was predicted 500 Before Christ in Zech 9:9. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, entered Jerusalem on a donkey. Jesus borrowed a donkey. The disciples threw their cloaks on the back of the donkey and Jesus sat on it. The Israelites threw their cloaks, spread palm branches on the road, and shouted Psalm 118, a Messianic Psalm. “Hosanna’’ means ‘’save us’’. Palm Sunday, the 10th of Nisan of the Jewish calendar, was the lamb selection day. On lamb selection day, the Lamb of God presented Himself to the nation of Israel. Daniel prophecied that from the time a decree was given to rebuild Jerusalem until the Messiah presents Himself to Jerusalem would be 483 years, Daniel 9:25. Based on a lunar calendar of 360 days per year, bible scholar, Sir Robert Anderson, extrapolated 483 years from the date of the first event and arrived on April 6, 32 AD, which was the 10th of Nisan. In Luke 19:42, Jesus held the Israelites accountable for their ignorance. Jesus prophesied the destruction of the Jews, Jerusalem, and the temple, and this was fulfilled in 70 AD. God’s prophecy was fulfilled to the exact day.
VV 11-14, ‘ ’ 11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve. 12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.’’
Why did Jesus curse the fig tree when it was not the season for fig? There were two seasons of figs. There was an early-season in spring of smaller fruits and there was a late-season in summer of the full-grown late fig fruits. If a fig tree did not have early fruits, it will not have late fruits. When Jesus cursed the fig tree, it was not the season for the late fruit but it was the season for the early fruit and He found none. The fig tree represents Israel. Jesus came to Israel looking for fig fruits but He found none. God would destroy Israel for this. In 70 AD, the Romans invaded and destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. Jews were killed and displaced out of Jerusalem.
VV 15-18, ‘’15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “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.’ 18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.’’
The cleansing of the temple happened twice, first at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry (John 2) and second at the end of Jesus’ ministry during Passover (Mark 11, Luke 19, Matthew 21). Jesus overturned the money changer’s tables, the dove seller’s benches, and chased them out of the temple, exercising His Messianic authority. Pilgrims who came for Passover were compelled to buy animals and exchanged their currencies for the temple shekel at an exorbitant rate. The temple authority ripped off the pilgrims in broad daylight. The chief priests and scribes were offended and looked for ways to kill Jesus.
VV 19-26, ‘’19 When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city. 20 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered! ” 22 “Have faith in God”, Jesus answered. 23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” ’’
When Jesus and the disciples came back to the fig tree that Jesus had cursed, they found that it had withered. Jesus taught them to have faith in God, to pray with faith and belief. He taught them to forgive others when they pray. Vertical forgiveness must be accompanied by horizontal forgiveness.
VV 27- 33, 27 They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders came to him. 28 “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?” 29 Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 30 John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!”31 They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 32 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’ …” (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.) 33 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”
The Jewish religious leaders challenged Jesus’ authority in cleansing the temple. In reply, Jesus asked the Jews whether John the Baptist’s baptism was from heaven or men. The Jews refused to answer Jesus, and Jesus refused to answer them.
Heavenly Father, great is Your faithfulness for they are new every morning. In encountering Your word, help us to encounter You, in Jesus’ name, Amen.