Why Are You Doing This?
This trip to Jerusalem by Jesus and his disciples was not accidental, or just because it was time for the Passover (commemorating the Exodus from Egypt)1. Jesus was fulfilling prophecy given in Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Look! Your king comes to you; he is righteous and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey, and on a male donkey, the foal of a female donkey! And he was ushered in with Mark 11:10 “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!”
Jesus understanding of the prophecies of old were coming together with spiritual insight through His foreknowledge. He saw a colt in Bethphage and Bethany and told his disciples exactly what they should do. When asked, “Why are you doing this?” they responded as instructed, “The Lord has need of it.” And it was so He could fulfill His prophetic entry into Jerusalem as their King. And he was ushered in with Mark 11:10 “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!”
This phrase is quoted as a lament for the time of darkness coming over the children of Israel in Matthew 23:37-39.2
(There is much more symbolism here to consider in further study.
“Across from Bethphage and Bethany.” “Bethany” means “house of obedience,” and “Bethphage” means “house of jaws.” Bethphage is a priestly place, because jawbones were given to priests, as the law commands (Deut 18:3).3)
He Was Hungry
The writer simply records the words that Jesus spoke, “Let no one eat fruit from you any more, forever”. See Mark 11:20-25
The Outer Court
If you just read Mark 11:15 it sounds like they just arrived in Jerusalem, but the day before was what is called “the triumphal entry”. Notice though, Mark 11:11. Jesus went to the temple and looked around and then went out to Bethany for the night with his disciples.
He had been in the temple the day before and, apparently saying nothing to his disciples, went back to the temple and “overturned the tables”. Jesus cleansed, not the temple, but the courts outside the temple. And in Mark 11:17 quotes from Isaiah 56:7 (LEB) I will bring them to ⌊my holy mountain⌋; I will make them merry in my house of prayer. their burnt offerings and their sacrifices ⌊will be accepted⌋ on my altar, for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples,”
And, further in Psalm 22:27–28 (LEB) All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to Yahweh. All the families of the nations will worship before you. 28 Because the kingship belongs to Yahweh, and he rules over the nations. So, even though Jesus said Matthew 15:24 (LEB) “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”, He also cleansed the outer court, this place reserved for the gentiles.
(* study foreigners from Is 56:6)
Have Faith in God!
We are back to the fig tree, which didn’t seem to mean much earlier. Now, Jesus uses it as an object lesson saying “Have faith in God!” But then Jesus makes this wild statement, “Say to this mountain …”. And then He says, “whatever you pray for …”.
But it isn’t just an empty prayer, because He says “believing you have received it” and “it will be done for you”. Did Jesus just say that nothing is impossible? There is a consistent thread of examples where Jesus included this word “believe”, “from πιστεύω (pisteuō). vb. to believe, to entrust” and it is used some 233 times.4
What do we believe? God’s word, that whatever we can ask, believing, will be done? Or do we believe the natural world and circumstance we see and feel and touch around us?
By What Authority!
It isn’t surprising that right after Jesus is ushered in to the city as King and he cleanses the outer court, and he makes this statement “anything you ask … will be done” that a challenge comes to His authority.
Jesus was very clear with them, he would not tell them because we must get this revelation for ourselves, as Peter said, “You are the Christ”.
They Will Respect My Son
Jesus uses this challenge to His authority to give this parable. The vineyard owner, God himself, is in his rightful place and entrusts his vineyard to the care of others. They not only abuse his messengers, at the last, they kill his son to try to take ownership themselves.
These that are plotting to destroy Him, that are challenging His authority, don’t get it.
Psalm 118:22–23 (LEB) The stone the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. 23 This is from Yahweh; it is wonderful in our eyes.
Teacher, We Know That You Are …
This wasn’t about paying taxes. And, Jesus saw it for what it was. Flattery is often the first line in a trap. There is wisdom for us in God’s word. In the instruction God gives us foe our own behaviour and so we can see the whiles and manipulations of those serving the devil or just their own lusts.
- Mark 11:1–11
- Mark 11:15–19
- Mark 11:27–33
- Mark 12:1–12
- Mark 11:1-33
- Mark 12:1-17
- 1. Bokser, B. M. (1992). Unleavened Bread and Passover, Feasts of. In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 6, p. 755). New York: Doubleday.
- 2. Harris, W. H., III, Ritzema, E., Brannan, R., Mangum, D., Dunham, J., Reimer, J. A., & Wierenga, M. (Eds.). (2012). The Lexham English Bible (Mk 11:9). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
- 3. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- 5. Clark, R., & McLaurin, D., III. (2014). Stewardship. D. Mangum, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, & R. Hurst (Eds.), Lexham Theological Wordbook. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.