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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Mark 11

Verses 1-10

Mark 11:1-2 Samuel : . The Triumphal Entry.— This incident Wellhausen and HNT regard as opening a new section of the gospel, which they end with Mark 13:37. Jesus is now close to Jerusalem, Bethphage (“ house of young figs” ) being apparently between Jerusalem and Bethany (? “ house of dates,” so Swete, or “ house of unripe fruit,” EBi, col. 548) and forming one of the limits of the Sabbatic zone round Jerusalem. In the neighbourhood of this village, Jesus adopts a plan which possessed and seems to have been intended to possess Messianic significance. As if all had been arranged beforehand, two disciples are sent to bring an unused colt from the neighbouring village. Jesus knows that all will be ready for Him, and that the assurance of the speedy return of the colt will persuade the owners to release it. The procession formed by the disciples and casual wayfarers, Galilean pilgrims perhaps, follows the road along the Mount of Olives, where, according to Zechariah 14:4, Yahweh would appear, and where popular Jewish belief expected the Messiah to appear (Wellhausen, p. 94). Though to the evangelist the incident is Messianic, it is possible that the crowd did not hail Jesus as Messiah. The agreement of the evangelists as to the cry of the multitude does not extend beyond Mark 11:9, which may constitute the original utterance. It is based on Psalms 118:26— a welcome often addressed to those who came up for the Passover. Hosanna (= “ Save now” ) is derived from the same psalm. Is Mark 11:10 Mk.’ s expansion? The term Hosanna seems to be misunderstood in this verse. Matthew 22:11 also suggests that the crowd did not regard Jesus as the Messiah. Swete attributes Mark 11:10 to some few members of the crowd. All hailed the prophet, some recognised the Christ.

Verses 1-14

Mark 11:11-2 Chronicles : . The Cursing of the Fig-Tree.— Though it is difficult to believe that Jesus spent only one crowded week in Jerusalem, Mk. here becomes confidently precise in chronology, and he tells the story of the fig-tree, distinguishing the stages in it, as if he were following exact recollections. On the first evening, Jesus surveyed the Temple, not as if He had never seen it before, but to determine His course of action. After looking round, He withdrew to Bethany. The next day occurred the incident of the fig-tree— a difficult story, absent from Lk. One is tempted to suppose either that the parable of the barren fig-tree ( Luke 13:6-1 Samuel : *) has been transformed into incident, or, as HNT suggests, that the story grew round some conspicuous dead tree in the vicinity of Jerusalem. As Mk. relates it, it does not read even as an acted parable, symbolic of judgment on the fruitlessness of Judaism.

Verses 15-19

Mark 11:15-Psalms : . The Cleansing of the Temple.— Jesus now follows up His survey of the Temple with an attempt to abolish the market set up in the outermost court, the court of the Gentiles, for the convenience of Jews who had to purchase sacrificial victims and who wished to obtain by a dear exchange the half-shekel wherewith to pay their Temple-tax. [76] Mk. alone says ( Mark 11:16) that Jesus reinforced the standing rule against using the court as a thoroughfare. The phrase “ for all nations” in the quotation from Isaiah 56:7 is also found only in Mk. It suggests that the robbery may have consisted not so much in the sharp practice of the money-changers as in depriving the Gentiles of all their share in the Temple and its worship. To the last, the people were astonished at His teaching; it was ever new to them. The nightly withdrawal of Jesus from the city ensured both quiet and safety.

[76] [On the significance of this incident as an immediate cause of the Crucifixion, see Lake, The Stewardship of Faith, p. 39: “ Financial interest rather than theological hatred was the real cause of the accusation of the priests, though they dressed it up in a partly political, partly religious form.”— A. J. G.)

Verses 20-25

Mark 11:20-Lamentations : . The Power of Faith.— On the third day of the week, Peter draws attention to the withered fig-tree, and Jesus uses it to illustrate the great power of faith. The teaching does not seem to spring very directly out of the incident. The reference to removing mountains is rightly interpreted metaphorically. In effect, the mountains are the obstacles which prevent the easy access of man to the holy city of God. To faith these obstacles must yield (see Swete). Mk. himself seems to have felt that the power of faith is dangerously illustrated by the withering of the fig-tree, for he adds a sentence ( Mark 11:25) about the necessity of possessing the spirit of forgiveness. Faith will not work capricious miracles. “ Our desires are not to be the measure of our prayers, unless reason and religion be the rule of our desires” (Jeremy Taylor). The phrase “ your Father which is in heaven” occurs here only in Mk. It seems to be an echo of the Lord’ s Prayer.

Mark 11:26 has been added to Mk. from Matthew 6:15.

Verses 27-33

Mark 11:27-Micah : . First Encounter with Religious Leaders on the Question of Authority.— On the Tuesday, an official deputation meets Jesus in the Temple, and asks by what right He has taken upon Himself police duties like the control of the market. Who has given Him permission to clear the court of the Gentiles and even to teach in the Temple? The one decisive question which Jesus puts in reply is not a subtle evasion of an attempt to trap Him into a Messianic confession. The nature of John’ s authority raised a fundamental issue on which Jesus and the Pharisees were at variance. To Jesus John was a man sent from God. That conviction underlay His whole activity. The men who would not recognise John as a prophet, and who yet had not the moral courage to deny his authority, could not understand Jesus, and deserved no direct answer. For all that, the question of Jesus, so far from evading theirs, clearly answered it.

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Mark 11". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/mark-11.html. 1919.