Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, June 16th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Mark 11

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Verses 1-7


Mark 11:1 And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples, 2 And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him. 3 And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither. 4 And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him. 5 And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt? 6 And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded: and they let them go. 7 And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him.

Mark and Luke mention only the colt in this passage though Matthew mentions the colt’s mother being present and that both were to be brought to the Lord. Why Mark and Luke did not mention mom is a major problem to some that feel the Bible is full of errors. Since we know it to be the Word of God the omission must have a reason in the Lord’s mind.

Since Matthew, writing to Jews of their king rejected, would add detail of the mother to be accurate for the doubters. I would guess that taking the colt from the mother would have been problematic thus it would be easier to take both. The fact that Mark and Luke mention only the colt relates to the fact that the colt was the one the Lord rode and thus the important one to mention.

Some raise question as to the disciples being told to take something that did not belong to them. It is simple enough to note that the disciples were questioned about taking the animals, yet there was no hesitation in them doing so when they told the men who they were for.

It would be easy and safe to assume the animals had been arranged for by someone prior to the disciples coming after them. It might also be suggested that this whole occasion was another miracle in that Christ knew that the animals would be there and that the disciples would have no problem taking them. It is unlikely that this was a miracle, but more to the point something that the Lord had arranged sometime prior.

Matthew and Luke make this text plain that this was the Lord declaring His kingship over Israel in fulfillment of prophecy. He was presenting Himself in the manner that was planned in the beginning. The fact that the Jewish leadership rejected Him completely did not change the outcome of the Lord’s ministry, but only took the Jews out of the mix of God’s plan for that particular time.

Verses 8-10

8 And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9 And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: 10 Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.

"Strawed" is an old word to say “strew” or “lay on out” as a sower might straw the seed. "Hosanna" is "an exclamation" according to Strong. Gill mentions that it relates to "save" and Thayer adds that propitious is a part of the meaning. The Net Bible’s notes tell us that it means "O Lord save" which gives the full meaning of the word. It indeed is an exclamation of needing and wanting to be saved. We might remember the context of this, they were looking for a king politically and wanted Him to save them from the Roman rule that they were under.

They were looking for a king and a kingdom - the Messiah and all that they thought He would be but how shocked they must have been when He was crucified by the Romans that He was to usurp.

Matthew Henry makes two great points. First, the Lord often depended upon others for His needs. He lived in others homes, He seemingly borrowed boats and here He has borrowed his ride. Henry continues to encourage believers to rely upon one another for needs. Not that we should become borrowers and leaches, but if one has an item another needs, be sure to make the offer in Christian love.

Secondly, Henry makes the point that all that occurred related to the Lord’s meekness and humility in the activities. To be proclaimed king He could have arranged for a fine horse to ride with other horses for the apostles to make a fine entrance into Jerusalem, but He opted to come as the meek lamb to the slaughter in fulfillment of prophecy relating to the suffering servant.

("Matthew 21:4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet saying, 5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass." Isaiah 53:5 "But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.")

Verses 11-14

11 And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve. 12 And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry: 13 And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. 14 And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.

To begin William Barclay (THE GOSPEL OF MARK; The Westminster Press; Philadelphia; 1975) mentions of this text "There can be no doubt that this, without exception, is the most difficult story in the gospel narrative. To take it as literal history presents difficulties which are well-nigh insuperable." He goes on to mention that this is true because "the story does not ring true." and that the account does not seem worthy of the Lord. The main premise he presents is that the Lord had never used His own powers for Himself. He continues to explain that Mark was correct to state that the time of figs was not yet and makes his second point "Why blast the tree for failing to do what it was not possible for it to do?"Barclay decides that it is what he calls an "enacted parable" to illustrate one of two truths.

"Promise without fulfillment or profession without practice." I would suggest that the parable idea might well be true, but would choose some more relevant truths for it to illustrate. We will see my suggestions later.

A little background on trees along the way might be of interest. One author, George M. Lamsa in his "GOSPEL LIGHT" book by A.J. Holman Co.; Philadelphia; 1936 pp 196-197, mentions that the planter of a tree was the owner of the tree in the Lord’s time. Even if someone planted a tree on someone else’s property the tree belonged to the planter.

Trees along the roads were owned by the planters of the trees. However over the years the planter might die and the owner would be unknown and thus the tree became public property along the roads of the time. These trees were free game for any traveler or poor person who cared to pick the fruit. Since this is a little before Howard Johnson and Burger King the Lord was hungry so He went to one of these trees to find something to eat.

He also mentions that the leaves were full so there should have been fruit but there was not. The tree probably had been picked free by other travelers, or it may have been defective in some manner, but no matter, the Lord cursed it. The author seems to ignore the comment of Mark which tells us "for the time of figs was not yet."

I am not an arborist, but my limited experience from observation is that blossoms appear before the fruit on trees in this country and are followed by fruit, however the fruit comes after the leaves are full and the fruit does not magically pop out fully mature, but comes on small and then develops over time.

This same author suggests that to curse was rather normal in the day when something did not go as one had anticipated and that this curse was not abnormal. I am not sure what the author would do with the fact that the tree was dead the next time by, but I would suggest that the curse was a little more that a run-of-the-mill curse out of exasperation.

Now, being the man that I am I can well remember a time in my life that I would curse in exasperation many times a day. If I was working on my car and things were going wrong I could curse very profusely, and could even be seen striking the poor defenseless car with any tool that I might have in hand. Even though I knew how to curse profusely, not once did I kill a tree with one of those curses.

If I pull out in front of someone and they curse me, I want it to be a run-of-the-mill curse rather than one like the Lord gave to the tree.

I had wondered if the death of the tree was not the result of the problem that caused it to not have fruit. This might have been but to have leaves and looking alive and normal and the next day be dead does not seem to be possible.

In looking for answers I went to some commentaries and the first one - Barnes Notes - ignoredthe passage. Lightfoot mentions that there was a type of fig tree that would bear fruit but it would drop off before it was ripe for the first three years of its existence and assumes this was the case here.

Several commentaries mention that this seemed to be a particular tree that caught the Lord’s eye. It may have been one of many and it was full of leaves indicating there might be fruit, though the rest of the trees were void of or of limited leaves.

Matthew Henry suggests that the comment about it not being the time for figs was a simple statement of fact; the figs were not due and were not present.

Robertson mentions of the tree, it had "promise without performance." Not unlike many believers today who have a good game on when in church on Sunday but do not perform to their possibilities during the week.

In my mind it may well have been a tree placed there to allow the Lord to give His illustration to the apostles.

Now, if this was a parable or "enacted parable" as Barclay suggests, I would suggest five possible truths, all of which are quite striking but also they relate clearly to the context of the "parable."

1. This may illustrate Israel. The Jewish leadership was dead at the roots and there was no fruit in Israel, and the deadness was from the root to the top - all living Israel was dead at this point of time (of course there were a few believing Jews but the majority were dead spiritually).

2. This may illustrate God’s sovereignty to the two that wanted to sit on the Lord’s right and left in the last chapter. This would show so clearly that God does as He wills and His will is far above our own understanding. He wills to do, He will do as He wills and His will is going to be done.

3. This may illustrate the unfruitfulness of the believer. The Lord came looking for fruit and found none and the clear message is that the believer is dead. A dead believer is of little use to the Lord.

4. This may illustrate the taking home of fruitless believers. John fifteen mentions the fact that the unfruitful branch will be taken away or taken home.

5. This may have been a clear message, to those that saw the occurrence. This was God that they were dealing with, this was the One sent to Israel, the Messiah come.

It is inconceivable to me that some of these thoughts did not run through the apostles minds as they considered the occurrence.

Then again, to consider the Lord’s application to the situation might be the wiser line of thought. He said that this illustrated the fact that the apostles needed to pray and receive their answers. Whatever the apostles prayed, they would receive. Christ cursed the tree and the tree withered. Seems simple enough to me, it seems that we often make way more of a passage than is really there.

Yes, this was out of character for the Lord, yes, it seems to be a curse for something the tree had no control over, and yes, it is unfair, but then it is God that is taking these actions and it is God that was teaching the disciples.

To think of it, the disciples had seen many miraculous things and were still in a fog as to the Lord and His coming trials. This may well have been one shocking act to try to wake them up to the fact of just whom He was - God.

As to this being a parable, there seems little to suggest it is; on the other hand it seems to be a completely normal day in the life of the little band of men making their way through the countryside, albeit accompanied with a little of the divine supernatural.

It most certainly would have been an act for them to remember in coming days when they would have tremendous needs and it would have brought them to pray with faith, knowing that their prayers were going to be answered.

No matter where you come down on the reason for this situation you must surely see a heavy dose of God’s sovereignty. Whether it relates to a sovereign act to demonstrate things to the apostles, or whether a sovereign act to demonstrate something else, it is an act by the perfect God-man Jesus Christ our Lord and we need to accept it whether we plumb its depths or not.

Personally the idea of it being a final declaration of His character and power to those that witnessed it seems the most viable and sensible.

Now remember verse eleven and the record that Christ had gone into the temple and had looked around. This day, He goes in but not for just a look, He went looking for action and action He gave them. In our next section He cleaned house.

In verse eleven He had just arrived in Jerusalem - what is called His triumphal entry into the kings city having been proclaimed king and He entered the temple - not to be received as king but to "look around." (11 And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve."

I assume He came to see if there was any reaction from the Jewish leaders hearing of His being proclaimed King by the folks, but finding no reception and no acceptance He left planning His next move relating to the temple and the Jewish leaders. ("9 And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed [is] he that cometh in the name of the Lord: 10 Blessed [be] the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.")We now see a premeditated act based on His viewing of the temple just prior. It is safe to say that He was not a happy camper.

Verses 15-18

15 And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; 6 And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. 17 And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves. 18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine.

"My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer?" This is a quote from Isaiah 56:7 which brings up an interesting point. Jesus quotes the Old Testament giving it validity, but more than just the surface validity is present. "Written" is a perfect passive indicating that the words were written under influence from the outside - inspiration of the Holy Spirit - and the perfect indicates something that is complete and complete into the future - indicating it is preserved into the future to a point of completion. This passage is a very good proof of the inspired Word of God.

At the minimum it gives validity to the passage itself and by extension the entire book if not the whole canon of the Old Testament. No matter how far you extend it the passage also teaches the doctrine of inspiration and preservation of the Word.

One of our television stations has a series on their newscast called "The Fleecing of America" where they show how the taxpayer is being ripped off by government and business. There is never any reporting however of anyone doing anything about this fleecing of America. No one ever goes in and punishes the bad guys, nor recovers the good guy’s money - only corruption.

The Jewish leaders were ripping off the normal Jew both financially and spiritually. They had turned the temple into a place of business and I am sure it was for a profit rather than out of the goodness of their hearts. HOWEVER, unlike the network that continues to report but do nothing, Christ moves in on the fleecing of the Jews and does something about it. He ran the corruption out of the Lord’s house and returned it to being a house of prayer.

Now this is a new realization about the temple. In the mind after reading the Old Testament law one would think that the temple was a place of sacrifice rather than a place of prayer.

True, this was the outer courts of the temple so there was the aspect of sacrifice, but is this not possibly some further insight into the tabernacle - the area surrounding the place of sacrifice - might the Jews of old have been engaged in prayer before their sacrifice was offered? It would seem quite probable. To pray before sacrifice might have been that time of repentance and getting right before God before offering the required sacrifice.

This may well picture for the New Testament saint the attitude we should have before seeking forgiveness from the Father. Yes, Christ paid it all and His sacrifice was sufficient to anythingthat we might set ourselves to do, but that repentance and time before God in prayer might well be the proper thing to do before asking forgiveness.

Lest we forget, many of us call our churches the sanctuary - house of prayer - hummm is this really true today? Are we really about God’s business in our churches today? The New Testament church was heavily involved in prayer, preaching and fellowship with one another. Today we meet and greet and get fuzzy and leave seldom getting to the real prayer, real Bible study or the real fellowship.

Just consider if you would call your church a house of prayer.

"Cast out" has the thought of expel - a forceful setting outside. Christ did not just ask the folks to leave He threw them out, or drove them out. He became a people herder or driver. One might wonder if the first words from His mouth did not get folks moving toward the exits. Can you picture the money-changers struggling to gather their money together before He got to their table? It must have been quite a scene.

Can you picture the scene in our own time - Christ coming into the church driving out the "musicians" and the book tables hocking the latest pages from the guest speaker? Can you picture the guitars flying, the keyboards sliding from their stands, the pages flying from the books, the cash being overthrown? Watching the author heading for the window or nearest exit?

Yes, only dreaming but oh what a day that would be. A little harsh? Well maybe. Then again Christ said that they had made the temple a den of thieves - rather explicit terminology for hocking wares in the Lord’s house.

And the moldable leadership when they heard of the Lord’s action reformed the use of the temple to the proper use - prayer - NOT! They had a board meeting to figure out how to destroy Him because the people believed His teaching.

It might be of note that this plotting has been going on for quite some time. They must have been really trying to hatch a foolproof plot - something that would get Him out of the way, yet something that would leave them free of suspicion by the people. No it will not be suggested that this sounds like the politicians of our day - why mention it, it is so terribly obvious. As we used to say in the service, "It is obvious to the most casual observer."

The passage mentions that the people were "astonished" with His doctrine. He was presenting truth rather than the falsehood of the Jewish leadership, why would they not be astonished. This man was teaching things they had not heard and He was explaining the things they knew in a different manner that made complete sense. He was giving them the Old Testament as it was meant to be understood, not as it had been perverted to enslave.

The word "all" is a word meaning the whole - literally all the people were astonished with His teaching. Wouldn’t that be nice pastor/teacher - to have all the people listen and be astonished at the truth that you were presenting from the Word? Today we have people who have bought into so many isms and philosophies that truth is not known when it is heard.Indeed, it is not uncommon for pastors/teachers to have bought into the isms and falsehoods and the people are confronted with the same thing they hear from the world.

Oh for the day when Christ will return to set truth where it belongs - as central to man’s thinking. Truth is the standard by which Christ will rule and it will be the standard by which He will judge not the namby pamby philosophy of today.

This election cycle we have had more lies and innuendo than ever before and the politicals do it with a straight face and gusto.

What a mess to find one’s self in. The people love you and the leaders hate you. One wants you as king and the other wants you dead. Not much pressure to carry on a ministry in. I used to think getting before a few dozen folks for a sermon was bad, but Christ was in a real mess between the rock and the hard place. Yet He continued on toward the cross with His usual fortitude and calmness.

Oh that we as pastors, teachers and lay-people should handle such pressure calmly - most of us do not handle half the pressure this well. We could if we would only choose to but all to often we ignore the precursors of stress and let it build till we react in an inappropriate way. As you find yourself stressed find a quiet place to seek the Lord and His power to sidestep the outburst and find calmness for the situation.

Verses 19-26

19 When even was come, he went out of the city. 20 And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. 21 And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away. 22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. 23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. 24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. 25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.

Now as a point of application, this was to the apostles and possibly to some that were around them. It was not a general promise for all coming ages. If it were there would never be a Christian ministry that did not have full and adequate funding, there would be no Christian that was in poverty or in need of food and if it were true for all believers there would be no needs in the world because we could fulfill them all with our prayers.

This was a promise to the apostle’s time and no more. The reality of this came to me years ago when I read this passage out of its context. We were in a dire straight financially, we had little to eat, my job was not paying very well and we had just moved to attend college - and of course no money for tuition. I read this passage and set to praying for all of our needs knowing that God would answer. He did not answer that day, or the next, nor many after that. We did see God provide for all our needs over time but as I started college I found that the context had a lot to dowith claiming a passage.

I found I could know that God would provide the need, but not based on this passage but upon passages that related to the New Testament Christian. We went through college and a lot more with the Lord’s able assistance - not wealthy but we made it through with some very thin times as well as some plump times - each teaching us their own lesson.

The last portion of this text is of deep importance to the believer. 25 "And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses."

Seems quite clear what the Lord was saying to the apostles - if you do not have forgiveness in your life for others DO NOT EXPECT IT FROM YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER. I do not think He could have made it clearer for us.

If you want forgiveness from the Lord, be sure that you have forgiven all those that have need of your forgiveness.

Now I was impressed with the fact that the Lord placed the forgiveness within the confines of prayer. It is through His strength that we can forgive others for their wrongs to us. Many situations in life will cause others to wrong you, and some of those wrongs may be terribly hurtful, but in prayer you can do that which you must to gain forgiveness for your wrongs toward God.

This forgiveness passage was directly linked to the moving of mountains type prayer so the apostles must have gotten the link between the power of prayer and their own forgiveness of others.

The obvious question is whether this forgiveness thing relates to us today. It was already presented that the asking for mountains to be moved is for the apostles so why not this as well?

Appropriately it does not relate directly to us as the moving of mountains, but there is application for our day.

We are to be steadfast in our faith when praying for God to work and the application of the forgiveness section would seem quite obvious. There is a relationship between God’s forgiveness of us and our forgiveness of others. We should tend those relationships quite closely.

Both principles can be found elsewhere in Scripture for us. Not forgiving others is sin in our lives, thus God will not be responding to our prayers that are hindered by sin. Faith is the basis of all prayer. If we have no faith we would not be praying and asking.

Verse 22 and following mention "That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. 24 Therefore Isay unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive [them], and ye shall have [them]."

As I was reading this today it called my mind to a television show I watched yesterday. The show was about Island Mountains that have slid into the sea and the devastation that it causes thousands of miles away in the form of tsunamis. The powerful force of the displacement of so much water can wipe out coastal areas in a moment.

Now this is a bit of a stretch for application but I think it bears bringing up as we discuss the power of prayer.

This relates somewhat to the Lord’s comments about prayer. He said if someone asks that a mountain be cast into the sea that it will happen. The point that we should take from this is not only the power of prayer, but maybe the consequences of prayer. We may have need of moving a mountain, but what are the consequences of doing so? Are we certain that we want to face the consequences of our prayers? Do you really mean what you say when you make a deal with God? When you tell Him you will do something if He answers your prayer are you getting serious with yourself and your commitment to that deal?

Many years ago I was praying for a man to come back to the Lord. I was convinced that I should continue to pray for this man and his spiritual condition. Over the months there seemed no real change in the man’s walk in this life.

One day I was so burdened for his life that I told the Lord that He could take my life if it would wake this man up to his need. As I verbalized the words in my mind I was brought up short with what I was suggesting. I stopped to do some serious consideration of the consequences of the "deal" but I went on and told the Lord that He was free to do so if it would change the man.

Since I am sitting here typing we all know that the Lord did not take me up on the deal, but the experience was one that taught me to think about what I prayed - is my sincerity in order? Am I really open to what I verbalize? Please consider the consequence of casting that mountain into the sea. If it is needed for God’s glory then have at it, but be sure there may be consequences that cost.

Of course the Lord was using hyperbole to make his point and it is certain that the apostles received the point of His comments. One must wonder how often the apostles thought back to this account as they faced great adversity and met with the Lord in prayer. We must wonder how many mountains they cast into the sea as they ministered for the Lord in their lives.

Just a short rabbit trail, can you imagine the apostles having walked and talked with the Lord for so many months but now He is gone – you pray to Him. They had an intimate knowledge of the Lord and they could address Him directly in prayer. That must have been such a comfort to them as they faced terrible times.

That might be a good reason to spend a lot of time in the Gospels getting to know Him moreintimately.

Verses 27-33

27 And they come again to Jerusalem: and as he was walking in the temple, there come to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders, 28 And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things? 29 And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. 30 The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me. 31 And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him? 32 But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed. 33 And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.

Answer the question, not based on the answer, but upon the answer that most fits the situation. What a bunch of losers, truth had nothing to do with their beliefs.

It should be pointed out that most of the world operates on the system of the Jewish leadership - do not sweat the truth, just answer questions in a way that is safe and secure for you. I see politicians doing this all the time. They are asked a point-blank question and they answer it in a way so as to keep them safe from those that would hold them to their answer. Tell the truth?

Never skirt the question? Do so to the best of you ability.

This political season we recently saw an ad for a senatorial race. One of the men had voted not to allow the partial birth abortion bill. Partial birth abortion is when the baby is in the midst of a live birth and the doctor kills it before it totally emerges. Murder by any normal standard of thought but we in America call it abortion. At any rate the opposing camp of the senator used this vote to say that the senator had voted to over turn Roe vs. Wade the court decision that led to the allowing of legal abortions. The twisting of truth is the normal person’s "truth" in our country today. We ought to be ashamed of this current climate in our country, but instead many Christians are living the same sham and calling it truth.

The leaders asked Him a question that left Him with a dilemma, if He told them His authority was from God or from Himself, they would have accused Him of blasphemous speech, while if He said His authority was from some earthly figure they would have denounced Him as servant of someone other than the Jewish authorities.

So to be fair and equal He asks them a question that left them with a dilemma. If they answered that John’s baptism was from heaven, they would have been admitting they were wrong to reject it, while if they said no they knew they would be slammed by the people who held John in high regard.

Be danged if you do and be danged if you don’t as they used to say when you were on the horns of a dilemma. Rather like asking someone if they have stopped beating their wife.Now I am not suggesting the Lord lowered Himself to the level that we often operate at, but it seems that there might have been a small sense of satisfaction in telling the Jewish leaders to mind their own business when He said that He was not going to tell them by what authority He operated. He could easily have told them and staved off their attacks until He was ready to submit to their plots, but He did not choose to do so at this time.

To have faced such a body knowing they were set upon His death must have been daunting for the disciples, but imagine when they saw Him face them down without a thought - just faced them, dealt with them and went on with what He was doing.

No, we are not Christ, and no we do not possess deity to face problems that come along, but we do have the Holy Spirit in full measure to assist us in facing any and all problems. We need to have confidence, strength and forthrightness when we are faced with problems; however we also need to have wisdom in knowing when someone is coming to create problems and when someone is coming to us in honesty with problems.

God, for some reason gave me a real sense of people and their underlying motives. Often when someone approaches me I can tell before they speak whether they are there for trouble or assistance. This sense is not always right on so I tend to wait till they reveal their motivations but often my sense has been correct.

Try to develop this sense of a person’s character; it will greatly assist you in life and ministry. It often gives you a few moments notice to consider your response to the person.

As we close a comment or two relating to prayer would be appropriate. Christ told the disciples how to pray - to ask believing and to have forgiven all before you ask. Some principles from this for us.

PRAY WITH KNOWLEDGE. Don’t go to the Lord unless you have thought the need through. Is it a need? Is it something that will be useful to God in your ministry?

PRAY WITH EXPECTATION. Many tell us that God answers prayer, yes, no and wait which is true, however there seems in my opinion that the Lord was saying that there was a truth to remember - ask believing and it shall occur. Praying with expectation would seem to indicate that we are praying for something that we know God wants and that He is going to give for His glory.

PRAY WITH PREPARED HEART. Be sure that you are on holy ground. Do not have unfinished business with other people coming between you and the Lord.

The prayer of faith mentioned in James may well be related to this idea of praying with belief and expectation. James 5:15 "And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him." In short if you are going to get involved with praying for healing you had better follow James instructions - pray with faith.The expectation seems to be a part of James thought in that the "prayer of faith" assures the healing so there would naturally be an expectation of healing. No, there is no thought of faith healing here. There is a specific methodology involved in the context that must not be ignored.

In summation, the Lord has made it clear who He is, the Jewish leaders have made it clear that they could care less about who He was and the people don’t care who He is as long as He saves them from the Jews. Only the Lord has a clear focus on what the situation is and He is on a collision course with that situation as the cross awaits his finishing work of salvation.

Bibliographical Information
Derickson, Stanley. "Commentary on Mark 11". "Derickson's Notes on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/sdn/mark-11.html.
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