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Bible Commentaries
Mark 11

Bell's Commentary on the BibleBell's Commentary

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Verses 1-11

  1. Intro:
    1. Story: In Oct.2007, Greg & I were on a plane leaving London for Kosovo. Greg had the window open, I was staring out, & a Mercedes pulled right up to the plane. I thought has to be some dignitary to get that treatment. He came on with 2 other guys & they sat in the not so prestigious front row. People started pointing & whispering something about him. I asked a gal Slide#7,8 who is it, she said the president (Fatmir Sejdiu/Fat-Meer Say-dyoo). 4 months before Kosovo’s Independence, here was the president. Besides getting to drive right up to the plane & board...I felt bad...I don’t even think he got an extra bag a peanuts.
      1. This morning we look at Jesus’ not so triumphal entry. He deserved so much more.
    2. Jesus was at the End of His journey. A journey that started 9 months ago. A busy itinerary in this final journey where He ministered in at least 35 localities. He timed the journey to end in Jerusalem right at Passover.
      1. The Passover now only a few days away. Throngs around Him. Everyone spreading the news about Him. Back now in Bethany where he rose Lazarus from the dead. The religious leaders counseling on how to kill Him.The Roman Soldiers Special Forces on Heightened alert, Threat Level Orange for potential Terrorist attacks. Would Jesus make a move? As the pressure mounts, Jesus took definite, calculated, & premeditated action.
    3. He carefully ordered everything.
      1. His Timing: The day & hour were selected from eternity w/countdown precision. He chose the 1st day of the week for his Triumphal entry which would precipitate his terrible death on that Friday, His rest in the grave on Sabbath, & his triumphant resurrection on the following 1st day of The Church.
      2. His Mode of transportation: A previously unridden donkey.
        1. He reaches Bethphage & sends his disciples to obtain his donkey limo he’d ride in on.
      3. His Going Public: He was purposely going public. He was promoting a public demonstration. Never before. He had repeatedly withdrawn from the crowds. But now He invited it. He courted danger & did it with calculated purpose.
    4. Title/Outline is: Demonstration - Celebration - Examination
  2. DEMONSTRATION (1-6) His Deity & Authority
    1. His Deity (2,3)
    2. Jesus was demonstrating His omniscience/His all-knowingness.
      1. He was in control of the whole situation.
        1. I like that. That brings me comfort today. He has all the details of my life figured out.
    3. His Authority (3)
    4. The Lord has need of it.
      1. The Lord had need of it & He has need of you.
        1. Like Philip & the Ethiopian Eunuch. The Lord had need of Philip.
      2. In His sovereignty & grace God has given you & me the privilege of being used to tell other people about the Lord.
  3. CELEBRATION (7-10) Hebrews on Holiday
    1. ​​​​​​​His Lowliness - on a donkey.
    2. Back to the donkey.
      1. Unridden - an animal devoted to a sacred task must be one that had not been put to ordinary use.
        1. Interesting….ever see The cross on the back of a donkey?
        2. Legend - Seeing the tragic event taking place, he wished with all his heart that he had been able to carry the cross for Jesus, as he was the proper one to carry heavy burdens. Ashamed of what was happening, the donkey turned his back on the sight, but would not leave for he wished to stay until all was over because of his love for Jesus. In reward for the loyal and humble love of the little donkey, the Lord cast the shadow of the cross to fall across his back and left it there for the donkey to carry forever more as a sign that the love of God, no matter how humble, carries a reward for all us to see.
      2. A Colt Tied - This points to a Messianic prophecy by Jacob. Gen.49:10,11 The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from his descendants, until the coming of the one to whom it belongs, the one whom all nations will honor. He ties his foal to a grapevine, the colt of his donkey to a choice vine. He washes his clothes in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes.
        1. And of course He wants us to make the connection of Zech.9:9 Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey - riding on a donkey’s colt.
      3. Riding a donkey was a kingly act which identified Him with the royal line of David.
        1. It was a royal animal during King David’s reign. After him, the Hebrew kings switched to horses, & the donkey was considered unsuited to the dignity of Kings.
      4. Riding a donkey was also a humble act for that day.
        1. Seeing this procession, the Roman Soldiers must have laughed/mocked.
        2. When a victorious Roman general would return from war, elephants, tigers, and other animals would accompany him. The general would be in a chariot pulled by handsome horses. The swords of the soldiers behind him would be lifted high. The streets would be filled with the order of incense. The whole city would be shouting and rejoicing over the victorious king. Can you imagine how Caesar in Rome would have laughed and mocked as he saw this processional? But this was the beginning of the parade that would ultimately topple the Roman Empire. (Jerry Vines, Exploring the Gospels/Mark, pg.221,222.)
        3. Now look at Jesus’ parade...Him on a donkey(a beat up VW in that day, no limo); coats for His saddle; His soldiers hold Palm Branches instead of Swords. No incense burning, just the fragrance of Christ, which is the aroma of life to those being saved & an aroma of death to those who are perishing.
          1. I’m in that parade. It’s a looong line of followers. Are you in the parade? If you are saved you are in it too.
      5. The Donkey, by G.K.Chesterton
        When fishes flew and forests
        walked And figs grew upon thorn,

        Some moment when the moon was blood
        Then surely I was born.

        With monstrous head and sickening cry
        And ears like errant wings,

        The devil’s walking parody
        On all four-footed things.

        The tattered outlaw of the earth,
        Of ancient crooked will;

        Starve, scourge, deride me:
        I am dumb, I keep my secret still.

        Fools! For I also had my hour;
        One far fierce hour and sweet:
        There was a shout about my ears,
        And palms before my feet.
    3. We can all find encouragement from the fact that Jesus enlisted the donkey in His service!
    4. His Loftiness - Save now.
    5. All eyes were fixed on Jesus, all honor & respect was poured forth. Not only did some place their clothing on the animal as a saddle, some flung their robes to the ground as a gesture of reverence, indicating their willingness for him to have everything - even to trample their property if He so desired. There was swelling, mounting joy!
      1. He rode up the ridge to where the road starts down the Mount of Olives.
      2. Fresh pilgrims from Bethany & Bethphage have joined Him & the procession grows.
      3. When they reached that spot they caught a glimpse of the southeastern corner of the city. With its magnificent terraces & imposing towers, they broke into loud Eastern praise. These were Hebrews on Holiday!
    6. The chant –
      1. In vs.9 it says there were 2 groups(b4 & behind). This was antiphonal chant that some scholars suggest it went like this:
        1. First group: “Hosanna!”
        2. Second group: “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Blessed is the kingdom of our father David!”
        3. First group: “Hosanna in the highest!”
          1. This chant from Ps.118:26 was often used for pilgrims, but here it perfectly fits Jesus. - This became a mass prophetic ecstasy as the long procession moved along the slope of Mount of Olives.
          2. The Lord was making a statement - their words were His statement, “Save us!...Save us!”
          3. The Lord was revealing His position & His person - by riding in on the donkey.
          4. The Lord was revealing His work- The Hosannas describe His work. (Kent Hughes, Mark, pg.82.)
  4. EXAMINATION (11) His City & Church
    1. ​​​​​​​His City - He went into Jerusalem.
    2. The road that descends down the Mount of Olives descends into a hollow, & the sight of the city dips out of sight from the multitudes because of the ridge line. But then after a moment of Slide#24 walking, the path mounts again, in an instant the whole city bursts into view.
      1. Now with the whole city is in view & the Savior begins to weep. Not with quiet tears as were described when Lazarus was risen from his grave, but with loud deep sorrow. They ceased their Hosannas & heard the Lord of the Universe wail over Jerusalem. This was a new king.
      2. Read Luke 19:41-44 where His wailing turns into lamentation.
      3. By prophetic vision(seeing 4 decades into the future), the Lord saw the proud, unrepentant Holy City reduced to a pile of rubble wet with the blood of His people.
      4. They missed the things that makes for peace! - What? What did they miss? Well, repentance toward God & faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
        1. ​​​​​​​As your life stands right now, what does Jesus Christ see in your future? Judgment? Your towers pulled down? Desolation?
        2. The tears of Christ measure the infinite value of your soul.
      5. Jesus saw human beings with needy hearts...what do you see when you look at your city?
        1. If we could see our cities the way Jesus sees them, we’d see young lives being wrecked with drugs & immorality. We’d see businessmen/women whose lives are empty & meaningless. We’d see struggling mothers & absent fathers. We’d see many elderly staring into their sunset, ready to slip off into eternity w/o a relationship with Christ.
    3. His Church - He went into the temple.
    4. He had looked around at all things - It was a look of examination.
      1. What does Jesus see when He comes to our churches? As He walks up & down our aisles, moves in& out of the pews.
      2. What does Jesus see when He look around in our Temple/in our hearts/in our lives? He knows what we are like inside. When Jesus looks into your heart, what does He see?

Verses 12-24

  1. Intro:
    1. A living parable (a good parable sneaks up on u). Our Lord had just come from His triumphal entry, proclaimed as King by the multitude. Jesus knew their shallow adoration would soon turn into cries for His death.
      1. He will point out their hypocritical fruitlessness, their lack of faith, and unveil why their prayers were being hindered.
    2. Often OT prophets acted out their message when words no longer worked[c19 pottery over head;27 yoke]
      1. This whole episode was a sermon in action.
    3. Title: Count Your Figs
    4. Outline: Figs & Fraud - Faith & Forgiveness.
  2. FIGS (12-14)
    1. ​​​​​​​The day/Mon. Morning. The Place/Left Bethany/towards Jer.
    3. If He had power to kill the tree, why didn’t he use that power to have tree produce figs?
      1. The cursing of the fig tree, & the drowning of the pigs, are the only times where He used His miraculous power to destroy something in nature.
    4. Is Jesus acting like a spoiled child who didn’t get his way?
    5. Why would Jesus blast an innocent tree simply because it was fruitless?
      1. A: If a tree is part of what we call lower creation & is there for our use then where is Jesus’ wrong doing?
        1. If the herd of swine was turned into pork sausage, we’d think how nicely they fulfilled their destiny. But sacrifice them for the salvation for a poor lunatic’s soul… & it’s down right shocking.
      2. A: If the fig tree continued to be fruitless, & someone cut it down for fire wood…no one would have a problem.
    6. So the answer lies in the fact that He is teaching an eternal spiritual lesson w/a visual parable.
    7. So in actuality, Jesus makes this a very honored tree, right up next to the tree used to make His cross. – For, from this tree many have been warned & helped from its lessons.
    9. ​​​​​​​It has the unusual characteristic of producing its fruit before its leaves.
    10. It produces leaves in March/April. Fruit not until June; another crop in Aug; & possibly a 3rd crop in December.
      1. It’s possible then that though it wasn’t the “season for fruit” there could be left over fruit from the previous season.
    11. There maybe many leaves that people admire in you, but is there fruit people can enjoy?
    13. The Fig Trees represented what in the OT? (Israel)
      1. Hosea 9:10 I found Israel Like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstfruits on the fig tree in its first season.
    14. Many people believe they will escape the judgment of God simply because they burst forth w/ religious leaves. How can this passage serve as a warning to them?
    16. Israel had nothing but leaves.
    17. The Fig Tree pictures Israel, taking up space but not producing fruit.
    18. The Parable of the Fig Tree in Luke give an example of this. (Lk.13:6-9)
    19. Jesus is still seeking fruit from His people. To Be fruitless is sin.
      1. Jn.15:16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain.
    20. Fruit? – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
      1. ​​​​​​​Fruit also includes: [1] Rt Character (Christlike character) [2] Rt Character will result in Rt Conduct (a life characterized by good works) [3] A faithful witness [4] Lips that praise God (5) A generous giving of one’s money (brings fruit to our account)
    21. Don’t settle for shiny leaves. And, don’t try to cover your spiritual nakedness with religious Fig Leaves.
    22. Looking for fruit on the fig tree represents what Jesus was looking for in the Temple, & what Jesus is looking for in your Temple. Count Your Figs!
  3. ​​​​​​​FRAUD (15-19)
    1. ​​​​​​​“The trouble w/righteous anger is that it is so much easier to be angry than righteous.”
      1. But it is possible to be both.
    3. This all took place in the court of the Gentiles (only place where gentiles were allowed)
    4. Jesus should have found prayer & worship there…not a noisy market place.
    5. Jesus had cleansed the Temple in the beg of His ministry in Jn. 2 at His 1st Passover visit.
    6. Temple Tax was paid annually w/the Jewish silver ½ shekel.
      1. So people had to exchange their Greek & Roman money which became a lucrative, dirty business.
      2. “Instead of a place for praying, it became a place for preying & paying!” (www)
    8. Doves – were an offering for the poor.
    9. Its what Jesus’ parents brought at His own baby dedication at the Temple.
    10. Barclay said, “Outside doves cost as little as 3 ½ pence a pair, inside they were as much as 75 pence a pair.”
    11. I think you know how it grieves the heart of our Lord to take advantage of the poor.
      1. Prov.22:22,23 Do not rob the poor because he is poor, Nor oppress the afflicted at the gate; For the LORD will plead their cause, And plunder the soul of those who plunder them.
    12. This seemed to be the County Fair & the Stock Exchange all rolled into one.
    13. Slide#17 SHAMEFUL SHORTCUTS (16)
    14. They were using the temple mount for a shortcut from one side of the city to the other.
    16. His House was for the tithe, the sacrifice, prayer, outreach, worship, teaching, healing, & purification...to name a few.
      1. Def of worship by Archbishop William Temple: To quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, To feed the mind w/the truth of God, To purge the imagination by the beauty of God, To open the heart to the love of God, To devote the will to the purpose of God.
    17. A Den of Thieves is what? - A place where thieves hide after they’ve committed their crimes.
      1. The Jews were using the temple ceremonies to cover up their secret sins.
    18. “The Temple can only give sanctuary AS a Sanctuary.” Derek Kidner
      1. ​​​​​​​When man takes over…God leaves.
    19. Note the Digression:
      1. Mt.21:13 (My house) My house shall be called a house of prayer,
      2. Mt.23:38 (your house) See! Your house is left to you desolate.
      3. Mt.24:2 (No house) Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
        1. My house, Your house, No house.
    20. Jesse James killed a fellow in a bank robbery and shortly thereafter was baptized in the Kearney Baptist Church. Then he killed another man, a bank cashier, and joined the church choir and taught hymn-singing. He liked Sundays, Jesse did, but he couldn't always show up at church…on 2 Sundays, he robbed trains.
    21. Do we as church members flee to church on Sundays in an attempt to cover up our sins? Do we “go to church” in order to maintain our reputation, or to worship & glorify God? If Jesus showed up today in our church what changes would he make? If Jesus showed up today in our personal temple(body) what changes would he make?
  4. FAITH (20-24)
    1. ​​​​​​​The day/Tues. Morning. The Place/Left Jerusalem back towards Bethany.
    2. (20b) When we stop bearing fruit, the problem always starts w/the roots.
      1. When a person dries up spiritually it is usually from the roots.
        1. 2 Kings 19:30 And the remnant who have escaped of the house of Judah Shall again take root downward, And bear fruit upward. NIV take root below and bear fruit above.
      2. This also may speak to the totality of its destruction.
        1. The fig-tree represents the nation of Israel. Its spiritual roots were dead. And it could not produce fruit.
    3. (21) Peter was shocked, it had only been 24 hours & it was withered.
    4. Jesus indicates 2 aspects of fruit He was looking for: Faith Fruit & Forgiveness Fruit.
      1. Prayer seems to be the link in all of this: see vs.17, 24, 25.
      2. This is a new treatment on prayer that doesn’t require a Temple.
    5. A Lesson on Faith Fruit
    6. He starts with simply…Have faith in God. Or, constantly be trusting God. Or, live in a state of dependence on Him.
      1. Then He adds a very challenging statement…mountain, be removed.
        1. ​​​​​​​Mountains in Scripture often refers to a great difficulty.
          1. To all intents & purposes...it is something impossible.
        2. We face mountains of discouragement; mountains of opposition; mountains of business difficulties; mountains of an unstable economy; mountains of marital squabbles.
        3. We can move these mountains only by trusting God.
    7. (24) Now He says the same, just a little more concise.
      1. Whatever this believe that you receive them ultimately means, we know that to not do it is one of the greatest hindrances to prayer.
      2. Do you think that the larger percentage of limitations to prayer is because of us, or God? (Sure, He limits when it is not His will; but we may limit by not praying; asking amiss i.e. w/wrong motives.
      3. “The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, & the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.” George Muller
    8. So is this a blanket promise in vs.24?
      1. Is this the only lesson on prayer in the NT?
      2. Does this mean that if you pray hard enough & really believe God is obligated to answer you, no matter what you ask?
        1. That’s not faith in God, but faith in faith, or faith in feelings.
      3. Faith is not a sense, nor sight, nor reason, but simply taking God at His word (Christmas Evans, born on Dec.25, 1766-1838; Greatest Wales Preacher.)
        1. I believe God that it will be just as it was told me. Acts 27:25 [Paul re:the sailors safety on board]
  5. FORGIVENESS (25,26)
    1. ​​​​​​​A Lesson on Forgiveness Fruit
    2. We must have Faith & Forgiveness when we pray, or God will not answer.
      1. An unforgiving spirit will form a fatal roadblock in our prayer life.
      2. Ps.66:18 If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. (NLT)
    3. (26) We do not earn God’s blessing by forgiving one another.
      1. Our forgiving spirit is one evidence that our hearts are right w/God & that we want to obey His will. (ww)
      2. This makes it possible for the Father to hear us & to answer prayer.
    4. We’ll grab this last section real quick & add Fib, to Figs & Fraud; Faith & Forgiveness.
  6. FIB (27-33)
    1. ​​​​​​​WHO SAID SO? (27-33)
    2. (27) The day/Tues. Afternoon. The Place/Back in the Temple court.
      1. This was the Sanhedrins right & responsibility to investigate anyone who claimed to be sent by God. - Except...they didn’t have open minds or sincere motives.
    3. (28) By what authority means what kind of authority…i.e. human or divine?
    4. By what authority was He doing what things? (probably the cleansing of the Temple, day before)
    5. Jesus met their question w/a counter question. Was John’s authority from heaven/divine or from man?
      1. Jesus often asked questions to get His hearers to think deeply for themselves.
    6. (33) They would have been more honest if they said, “we will not tell” instead of “we do not know”. That was their Fib/lie.
      1. Jesus was basically asking, are you prepared to recognize God-given authority when you see it? (clearly they were not!)
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Mark 11". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/mark-11.html. 2017.
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