Mark Chapter 11
Mark 11:1 MKJV And when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, He sent out two of His disciples.
Benson: unto Bethphage and Bethany — The limits of Bethany reached to the mount of Olives: and joined to those of Bethphage, which was part of the suburbs of Jerusalem, and reached from the mount of Olives to the walls of the city. Our Lord was now come to the place where the boundaries of Bethphage and Bethany met.
Russell: And when they came -- Sunday-10th Nisan -the first day of our Lord's last week.
Nigh to Jerusalem -- About two miles distant.
He sendeth forth -- Instead of withdrawing, he was now taking the active part--sending for the colt, preparing for the triumphal ride to the capital of the nation as its King.
Guzik: (Mar_11:1-6) Preparation for the entry.
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem: If all we had were the gospel of Mark, we might think this is Jesus’ first journey to Jerusalem. But the gospel of John tells us of many previous trips. Jesus, like any devout Jewish man, went to Jerusalem for as many of the major feasts as He possibly could.
At the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples: As Jesus prepares to enter Jerusalem, He carefully and deliberately sends His disciples to make arrangements for His coming into the city. Since the time is short before His crucifixion, Jesus leaves nothing to chance.
Gill: And when they came nigh to Jerusalem,.... The Syriac and Ethiopic versions read, "when he came nigh"; that is, Jesus; though not without his disciples, nor the multitude:
unto Bethphage and Bethany; two places so called, near Jerusalem: Bethphage began where Bethany ended, and reached to the city itself. The Vulgate Latin only makes mention of Bethany; See Gill on Mat_21:1.
At the Mount of Olives; near which, the above places were:
he sendeth forth two of his disciples; perhaps Peter and John.
Mark 11:2 MKJV And He said to them, Go into the village over across from you. And as soon as you have entered into it, you will find a colt tied, on which no one of men has ever sat. Untie it and bring it.
Benson: Ye shall find a colt tied — In Matthew we read, an ass tied, and a colt with her, but Mark and Luke only mention the colt, because, it seems, our Lord rode on him only.
Guzik: When they drew near Jerusalem: As Jesus approaches Jerusalem for the last time in His earthly ministry, we see a considerable contrast to Jesus’ previous pattern of suppressing publicity. Here, Jesus deliberately works to fulfill prophecy, especially the prophecy of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks, which many feel Jesus fulfilled to the exact day on His triumphal entry (Dan_9:24-27).
Your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey: Jesus comes in humility, yet with appropriate dignity. Instead of coming on a horse as a conquering general, He comes on a colt, as was customary for royalty. He comes as the Prince of Peace.
Clarke: Whereon never man sat - No animal was allowed to be employed in sacred uses, even among the heathen, that had previously been used for any domestic or agricultural purpose; and those which had never been yoked were considered as sacred. See several proofs of this in the note on Num_19:2
Russell: A colt -- It has been the custom of the kings of Israel to ride to their coronation upon an ass. The Lord thus fulfilled the prophecy of Zec_9:9.
Zechariah 9:9 KJV Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
Mark 11:3 MKJV And if anyone says to you, Why do you do this? Say that the Lord has need of him, and immediately he will send him here.
Mark 11:4 MKJV And they went, and they found the colt tied by the door outside, in a place where two ways met. And they untied him.
Gill: Say ye that the Lord hath need of him; our Lord and yours, the Lord of heaven and earth, and all things in it; it looks as if this title, "the Lord", was what Jesus was well known by; see Joh_11:28; unless it can be thought, that the owners of the colt were such, that believed in Christ, as is not improbable; and so would at once understand by the language who it was for, and let it go:
and straightway he will send him, hither; as soon as ever he hears that the Lord, by whom he would presently understand Jesus, wanted him for his present purpose; he will send him with all readiness and cheerfulness, without the least hesitation, or making any dispute about it.
Barnes: Two ways met - A crossroads. A public place, probably near the center of the village.
Mark 11:5 MKJV And certain of those who stood there said to them, What are you doing, untying the colt?
Barnes: What do ye, loosing the colt? - Or, why do ye do this? What authority have you for doing it?
Mark 11:6 MKJV And they said to them even as Jesus had commanded. And they let them go.
Clarke: And they let them go - Having a full assurance that the beast should be safely and speedily restored.
It has been suggested that perhaps this man had been praying and wanting to serve the Lord, and when he heard “that the Lord has need of him”, he knew it was an answer to prayer and was happy to let him go.
Mark 11:7 MKJV And they brought the colt to Jesus, and they threw their garments on it. And He sat on it.
Russell: Cast their garments -- In lieu of a saddle.
He sat upon him -- Offering himself as the antitypical Passover Lamb on the tenth day of the first month. This was the first time Jesus had formally put himself forward. On previous occasions, when they sought to make him a King, he had withdrawn himself. A formal matter, fulfilling the prophecy and leaving the nation of Israel without excuse. The triumphal entry of Jesus on the ass was only typical. The antitype will be glorious, beyond the veil.
Expositor’s: It is indeed the lowliest of all memorable processions which He plans, and yet, in its very humility, it appeals to ancient prophecy, and says unto Zion that her King cometh unto her. The monarchs of the East and the captains of the West might ride upon horses as for war, but the King of Sion would come unto her meek, and sitting upon an ass, upon a colt, the foal of an ass. Yet there is fitness and dignity in the use of "a colt whereon never man sat," and it reminds us of other facts, such as that He was the firstborn of a virgin mother, and rested in a tomb which corruption had never soiled.
Thus He comes forth, the gentlest of the mighty, with no swords gleaming around to guard Him, or to smite the foreigner who tramples Israel, or the worse foes of her own household. Men who will follow such a King must lay aside their vain and earthly ambitions, and awake to the truth that spiritual powers are grander than any which violence ever grasped. But men who will not follow Him shall some day learn the same lesson, perhaps in the crash of their reeling commonwealth, perhaps not until the armies of heaven follow Him, as He goes forth, riding now upon a white horse, crowned with many diadems, smiting the nations with a sharp sword, and ruling them with an iron rod.
Mark 11:8 MKJV And many spread their garments in the way, and others cut down branches off the trees and scattered them in the way.
Mark 11:9 MKJV And those going before, and those following, cried out, saying, Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!
Mark 11:10 MKJV Blessed is the kingdom of our father David, who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!
Expositor’s: Lowly though His procession was, yet it was palpably a royal one. When Jehu was proclaimed king at Ramoth-Gilead, the captains hastened to make him sit upon the garments of every one of them, expressing by this national symbol their subjection. And thus the disciples who brought the ass cast on him their garments, and Jesus sat thereon, and many spread their garments in the way. Others strewed the road with branches; and as they went they cried aloud certain verses of that great song of triumph, which told how the nations, swarming like bees, were quenched like the light fire of thorns, how the right hand of the Lord did valiantly, how the gates of righteousness should be thrown open for the righteous, and, more significant still, how the stone which the builders rejected should become the headstone of the corner. Often had Jesus quoted this saying when reproached by the unbelief of the rulers, and now the people rejoiced and were glad in it, as they sang of His salvation, saying, "Hosanna, blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord, Blessed is the kingdom that cometh, the Kingdom of our father David, Hosanna in the highest."
Guzik: We like this slice from the life of Jesus because it simply feels so right. For much of Jesus’ ministry, He was despised and rejected of men. Often the adoring crowds followed Him only for what they could get from Him, and most His audience rejected any kind of personal commitment to Jesus. It was all different on this day.
i. On this day, they lavished attention and honor on Jesus, using their clothes as a saddle for Jesus, using their clothes as a red carpet for the colt He rode on. Considering the expense and value of clothing in that day, this was generous praise.
ii. If Jesus were among us, would He receive a critical evaluation, or would He receive generous praise? It’s even more important to understand that Jesus is here among us.
Then those who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’“ For most of His ministry, Jesus did everything He could to discourage people from publicly celebrating Him as the Messiah. Here, Jesus goes out of His way to invite public praise and adoration as the Messiah.
i. In fact, when the religious leaders of His day objected, He told them “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.” (Luk_19:40)
We call this event the “Triumphal Entry,” but it was a strange kind of triumph. If you spoke of Jesus’ “Triumphal Entry” to a Roman, they would have laughed you in the face. For them, a Triumphal Entry was a honor granted to a Roman general who won a complete and decisive victory, and had killed at least 5,000 enemy soldiers. When the general returned to Rome, they had an elaborate parade. First came the treasures captured from the enemy, then the prisoners. His armies marched by unit by unit, and finally the general rode in a golden chariot pulled by magnificent horses. Priests burned incense in his honor and the crowds shouted his name and praised him. The procession ended at the arena, where some of the prisoners were thrown to wild animals for the entertainment of the crowd. That was a “Triumphal Entry,” not a Galilean Peasant sitting on a few coats set out on a pony.
d. When He looked around at all things: Jesus came as the Messiah to Jerusalem, not as a mighty general to conquer the Romans. He came to first to look at the standing of the people of God, and to make an “inspection.” In the rest of Mark 11, we see the results of this “inspection.”
i. Mal_3:1-3 speaks prophetically of the Messiah coming to the temple in careful assessment.
ii. “The point is rather that Jesus is the Lord of the Temple, who must inspect its premises to determine whether the purpose intended by God is being fulfilled.” (Lane)
iii. We see again the courage of Jesus, because He isn’t hiding at all. Joh_11:57 makes it clear that there was a price on Jesus’ head; an “all-points-bulletin” was put out for His arrest. Yet, He came into Jerusalem in the most public way possible.
Scofield: behold, thy King The events following this manifestation of Christ as King are recorded in the Gospels. The real faith of the multitude who cried, "Hosanna" is given in Mat_21:11 and so little was Jesus deceived by His apparent reception as King, that He wept over Jerusalem and announced its impending destruction (fulfilled A.D. 70; Luk_19:38-44. The same multitude soon cried, "Crucify Him."
Mark 11:11 MKJV And Jesus entered into Jerusalem and into the temple. And when He had looked around on all things, the hour already being late, He went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
Barnes: Into the temple - Not into the edifice properly called “the temple,” but into the “courts” which surrounded the principal edifice. Our Saviour, not being of the tribe of Levi, was not permitted to enter into the holy or most holy place; and when, therefore, it is said that he went into the “temple,” it is always to be understood of the “courts” surrounding the temple. See the notes at Mat_21:12.
And when he had looked round about upon all things - Having seen or examined everything. He saw the abominations and abuses which he afterward corrected.
The eventide - The evening; the time after three o’clock p. m. It is very probable that this was before sunset. The religious services of the temple closed at the offering of the evening sacrifice, at three o’clock, and Jesus probably soon left the city.
Guzik: When He looked around at all things: Jesus came as the Messiah to Jerusalem, not as a mighty general to conquer the Romans. He came to first to look at the standing of the people of God, and to make an “inspection.” In the rest of Mark 11, we see the results of this “inspection.”
We see again the courage of Jesus, because He isn’t hiding at all. Joh_11:57 makes it clear that there was a price on Jesus’ head; an “all-points-bulletin” was put out for His arrest. Yet, He came into Jerusalem in the most public way possible.
Benson: And Jesus went into the temple — Having entered the city by the eastern gate, he alighted from the colt, and went directly to the temple, but did not drive the buyers and sellers out this first day; for Mark here tells us expressly, that by the time he got thither, and had looked round about on all things, even-tide was come; from which we may infer, that the market in the temple was over. It seems he stayed in the temple but a little while. Having made his public appearance in the metropolis, and received the title of Messiah openly from the multitude, and surveyed the temple, he left the city without doing any thing, to the great discouragement of the throng that had come in with him, expecting that he was immediately to have laid hold on the reins of government.
Russell: Unto Bethany -- Jesus lodged at Bethany, Monday night, 11th Nisan.
Mark 11:12 MKJV And on the next day, they going out of Bethany, He was hungry.
Mark 11:13 MKJV And seeing a fig-tree with leaves afar off, He went to it, if perhaps He might find anything on it. And when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season of figs.
Mark 11:14 MKJV And Jesus answered and said to it, No one shall eat fruit of you forever. And His disciples heard.
Guzik: Seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it: Essentially, the tree was a picture of “false advertising,” having leaves, but no figs. Ordinarily, this is not the case with these fig trees, which normally do not have leaves without also having figs.
i. For it was not the season for figs: It wasn’t that the fig tree didn’t have figs, because it wasn’t supposed to. The problem is that it had leaves but didn’t have figs. The leaves said “There are figs here,” but the figs weren’t there.
ii. There were many trees with only leaves, and these were not cursed. There were many trees with neither leaves nor fruit, and these were not cursed. This tree was cursed because it professed to have fruit, but did not.
b. In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again”: The tree is cursed for its pretense of leaves, not for its lack of fruit; like Israel, it has the outward form but no fruit. In this picture, Jesus warned Israel - and us - of God’s displeasure when we have the appearance of fruit, but not the fruit itself. God isn’t pleased when His people are all leaves and no fruit.
i. In all works in the ministry of Jesus, this is the only “destructive” miracle. The Old Testament is filled with miracles of destruction and judgment, but Jesus most perfectly showed us the nature of God. If this was the only miracle of its kind, we must see there is a great and important lesson in it. God doesn’t approve when there is profession without reality, talk without walk.
Russell: Cursing the fig tree and cleansing the Temple on Tuesday forenoon, Nisan 11th.
Nothing but leaves -- Or, professions and appearance of faithfulness; but, when searched in their harvest time, were found lacking fruit--cursed for the age. God sent his Son seeking fruit from the Jewish nation, but he found none as a nation, but only a few individuals.
Was not yet -- More properly, it would read, "for the time of the figs was not over," was not past. It would be strange for Jesus to come before the proper time to look for figs.
Barnes: And found nothing thereon but leaves only - Mark Mar_11:13 gives as a reason for this that “the time of figs was not yet.” That is, the time “of gathering” the figs was not yet, or had not passed. It was a time when figs were ripe or suitable to eat, or he would not have gone to it, expecting to find them; but the time of gathering them had not passed, and it was to be presumed that they were still on the tree. This took place on the week of the Passover, or in the beginning of April. Figs, in Palestine, are commonly ripe at the Passover. The summer in Palestine begins in March, and it is no uncommon thing that figs should be eatable in April. It is said that they sometimes produce fruit the year round.
And said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee ... - Mark calls this “cursing” the tree Mar_11:21. The word “curse,” as used by him, does not imply “anger,” or disappointment, or malice. It means only “devoting it to destruction,” or causing it to wither away. All the “curse” that was pronounced was in the words “that no fruit should grow on it.” The Jews used the word “curse” not as always implying “wrath or anger,” but to devote to “death,” or to any kind of destruction, Heb_6:8. It has been commonly thought that the Saviour performed this miracle to denote the sudden “withering away” or destruction of the Jewish people. They, like the fig-tree, promised fair. That was full of leaves, and they full of professions. Yet both were equally barren; and as that was destroyed, so they were soon to be.
Do you make a good profession (have lots of leaves)?
Do you also have fruit to accompany the leaves?
Mark 11:15 MKJV And they came to Jerusalem. And entering into the temple, Jesus began to cast out those who bought and sold in the temple. And He overthrew the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves.
Mark 11:15 TPT When they came into Jerusalem, Jesus went directly into the temple area and overturned all the tables and benches of the merchants who were doing business there. One by one he drove them all out of the temple courts, and they scattered away, including the money changers and those selling doves.
Guzik: Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple: What was the problem? Profiteers, in cooperation with the priests, robbed the pilgrims by forcing them to purchase “approved” sacrificial animals and currencies at inflated prices.
i. Every Jewish male had to pay a yearly temple tax - an amount equaling about two days pay. It had to be paid in the currency of the temple, and the money exchangers would change you your money for the temple money, and they did it at outrageous rates.
b. As well, they did this in the outer courts of the temple, the only area where Gentiles could come and pray; therefore, this place of prayer was made into a swap meet, and a dishonest one at that! God intended the temple to be a house of prayer for all nations, but they had made it a den of thieves.
i. A den of thieves is a place where thieves associate and hide. It is a sorry, shameful condition when the house of God becomes a place where unrepentant, active sinners can associate and hide.
c. We do love Jesus; and we want to praise Him; yet we must also allow His cleansing presence in our lives. If He wants to turn over some tables in our hearts, so be it.
Gill: And they came to Jerusalem,.... The Ethiopic version reads, "he came"; that is, Christ; but not alone, for his disciples were with him:
They "that bought and sold in the temple", were those that bought and sold lambs for the passover, which was now at hand; and the sheep and oxen for the "Chagiga", or feast the day following; as well as doves hereafter mentioned, for new mothers, and such as had fluxes: and that part of the temple where this business was carried on, was in a large space within the area of the temple, where shops were built for that purpose: and by "the money changers", whose "tables" are said to be "overthrown", are meant, such as sat at tables to receive the half shekel, who changed those that brought whole shekels, or foreign money: and who had so much for changing, which was called "Kolbon"; from whence they had the name of "Collybistae", in the text: and "doves", as before observed, were the offering of the poorer sort of women after birth, at the time of their purification, and of profluvious persons; of which many came from all parts, at the time of the passover: upon which account, there was a great demand for these creatures; and many sat upon seats to sell them, which Christ overturned..
Russell: They come to Jerusalem -- Josephus tells us that sometimes the population of Jerusalem on such an occasion was swelled to the number of two millions.
Into the temple -- Not in the Temple proper, but in its outer courts, the whole of which was designated the Temple, or house of God.
Began to cast out -- Such authority belonged to any Jew under the Law.
The use of force in cleansing the Temple followed the assertion of regal authority. A further manifestation of his consciousness of his power with the common people.
As a typical act, indicating that, in the end of this age, judgment begins with the professed house of God (1Pe_4:17), and his great displeasure against those who make merchandise of the truth.
Overthrew the tables -- Under our laws, it would be quite improper to enter any church in order to interfere with any of the rights of conscience or procedures sanctioned by the congregation owning the edifice. Under the Jewish Law it was different. Every Jew was privileged to enforce the divine Law in respect to blasphemy or any sacrilege.
The moneychangers -- Typifying those in the nominal temple who rob the people by accepting salaries for that which is not food.
A certain Temple tax must be paid in a certain kind of money, called the "shekel of the sanctuary." The last coinage of these was in BC 140, hence they were quite scarce in our Lord's day and sold at a premium. Not only visitors from foreign lands needed to purchase shekels of the sanctuary, but also the home folk. Here money-sharks found opportunity for meeting people in distress, who came to the Temple for prayer. Jesus referred to them as "those who rob widows." (Mat_23:14)
The collection plate is passed with regularity, and frequently strong appeals are made for money.
The seats of them -- He did not set at liberty the doves, which could not easily have been recovered, but permitted their owners to take them away.
That sold doves -- The multitudes of strangers from afar rarely brought with them the doves, pigeons or lambs, etc., which they presented in sacrifice.
Does your church have a gift shop? Or maybe a Starbucks? Or McDonalds? If so, what do you think of this attached to your church?
Mark 11:16 MKJV And He would not allow any to carry a vessel through the temple.
Mark 11:16 TPT And he would not allow them to use the temple courts as a thoroughfare for carrying their merchandise and their furniture.
Barnes: Any vessel - Any vessel used in cooking, or connected with the sale of their articles of merchandise.
Benson: And they come to Jerusalem — Jesus, having doomed the fig-tree to destruction, continued his journey to the city, where, when he arrived, he went straightway to the temple, and drove the buyers and sellers out of it, &c., and would not suffer any vessel to be carried through the sacred edifice. Such strong notions had our Lord of even relative holiness, and of the regard due to those places, as well as times, that are peculiarly dedicated to God. The Jews, it must be observed, reckoning the lower and outward court of the temple a place of little or no sanctity, because it was designed for accommodating the Gentile proselytes in their worship, not only kept a daily market there of such things as were necessary in offering sacrifices, but suffered the common porters, in going from one part of the city to another with their burdens, to pass through it, for the sake of shortening their way. But as these abuses occasioned great disturbance to the proselytes, Jesus reformed them again as he had done three years before, (see Joh_2:14,) telling the people around him, that the Gentiles worshipped there by divine appointment, as well as the Jews, the temple being ordained of God to be the house of prayer for all nations; and to prove this, he cited Isa_56:7, from which the inference was plain, that they were guilty of a gross profanation of the temple who carried on any traffic, even in the court of the Gentiles, much more they who, to make gain, committed frauds and extortions in the prosecution of their traffic, because thus they turned God’s house of prayer into a den of thieves.
PNT: Through the temple, i.e., the court of the Gentiles, which seems to have been used as a thoroughfare. This practice involved the same sin as the others (Mar_11:15), and expressed the same contempt for the Gentiles.
Mark 11:17 MKJV And He taught, saying to them, Is it not written, "My house shall be called the house of prayer for all nations?" But you have made it a den of thieves.
Gill: And he taught, saying unto them, is it not written,.... In Isa_56:7.
My house shall be called of all nations, the house of prayer? For not only the Jews went up to the temple to pray, see Luk_18:10, but the Gentiles also, who became of the Jewish religion, and had a court built for that purpose; and so the whole temple, from hence, was called an house of prayer: and the meaning is, not only that it should be called so by the Gentiles, but that it should be so to them, and made use of by them as such. Jarchi's note on the clause in Isa_56:7 is, "not for Israel only, but also for the proselytes."
But ye have made it a den of thieves; for no other, in our Lord's esteem, were the buyers and sellers of sheep, oxen, and doves, and the money changers, and the priests that encouraged them, and had a profit out of them: now these had their seats, shops, and tables, within the mountain of the house; and even in that part of it, which was assigned to the Gentiles, the nations of the world, who became proselytes, and came up to Jerusalem to worship there at certain times; See Gill on Mat_21:13.
Russell: My house -- In which there were three courts --one for the Jews, one for Jewish women and an outer court where believing Gentiles might worship. These courts represent different degrees of approach to God's favor.
"Know ye not that your body is the temple of the holy Spirit?" (1Co_6:19) See also 1Co_3:17; Eph_2:21; 1Pe_2:5.
Of all nations -- The outer Court of the Gentiles, was provided to the intent that all nationalities might there congregate for worship. It was probably little used, as few Gentiles had become sincere converts to Judaism.
The house of prayer -- Thus Peter and John went up to the Temple to pray. (Act_3:1) It was the one place of all others in the world where the soul might feel that it could draw especially near to God.
Ye have made it -- Thus placing the responsibility upon the scribes and Pharisees.
A den of thieves -- The loan-sharks infested the Temple, pretended sympathy for those in trouble, and loaned money on exacting terms which finally devoured the property of the widow and the orphan in a legal manner. Religion is still used as a cloak to cover selfishness.
Campbell: “The court of the Gentiles was particularly destined for the devout of all nations, who acknowledged the true God, though they had not subjected themselves to the Mosaic law, and were accounted aliens. The proselytes, who had received circumcision, and were, by consequence, subject to the law, were on the same footing with native Jews, and had access to the court of the people. Justly, therefore, was the temple styled, A house of prayer for all nations. The error in the common version is here the more extraordinary, as, in their translation of Isaiah, they render the passage quoted, for all people.”
Do we sometimes not regard the sanctity of the house of God?
Mark 11:18 MKJV And the scribes and the chief priests heard. And they sought how they might destroy Him. For they feared Him, because all the people were astonished at His doctrine.
Barnes: All the people were astonished - He became popular among them. The Pharisees saw that their authority was lessened or destroyed. They were therefore envious of him, and sought his life.
His doctrine - His teaching. He taught with power and authority so great that the multitudes were awed, and were constrained to obey.
Gill: And the Scribes and chief priests heard it,.... The reproof he gave to the money changers, and buyers, and sellers in the temple; and his strict prohibition that none should carry any vessels through it; and the argument he used from the prophecy of Isaiah, and the sharp rebuke he gave for the profanation of the holy place:
and sought how they might destroy him: they took counsel together to take away his life, for they hated reformation:
for they feared him; lest he should go on to make great changes and alterations among them, which would affect their credit and character, and their gains also, and draw the people after him:
because all the people were astonished at his doctrine; both as to the matter of it, which were such words as never man spake; and, as to the manner of it, being with such majesty, power, and authority, as the Scribes and Pharisees taught not with; and also at the miracles, by which it was confirmed, as well as at the reformation and discipline he was introducing; which was done with such an air of sovereignty and power, as was amazing.
How do you feel when it is shown that you are not treating the things of God reverentially?
Mark 11:19 MKJV And when evening came, He went out of the city.
Gill: And when even was come, he went out of the city. Of Jerusalem, as he did the evening before, and for the same reasons: probably he went to Bethany, where he had lodged the last night, with Lazarus, Martha, and Mary; or to the Mount of Olives, where he sometimes spent the night in prayer: the Syriac version renders it, "they went out"; for Christ took his disciples with him, as is evident from the following verse.
Russell: Tuesday night, 12th Nisan.
Mark 11:20 MKJV And passing on early, they saw the fig-tree dried up from the roots.
Mark 11:21 MKJV And Peter, remembering, said to Him, Rabbi, behold, the fig tree which You cursed has withered away.
Barnes: Thou cursedst - To curse means to devote to destruction. This is its meaning here. It does not in this place imply blame, but simply that it should be destroyed.
Russell: Wednesday forenoon, 12th Nisan. The last day of his public teaching.
JFB: they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots — no partial blight, leaving life in the root; but it was now dead, root and branch. In Mat_21:19 it is said it withered away as soon as it was cursed. But the full blight had not appeared probably at once; and in the dusk perhaps, as they returned to Bethany, they had not observed it. The precision with which Mark distinguishes the days is not observed by Matthew, intent only on holding up the truths which the incident was designed to teach.
PNT: Withered away from the roots. The day before the ‘leaves’ were visible ‘afar off;’ today, Tuesday, the blasting was complete
Mark 11:22 MKJV And answering Jesus said to them, Have faith of God.
Barnes: Have faith in God - Literally, “Have the faith of God.” This may mean, have strong faith, or have confidence in God; a strong belief that he is able to accomplish things that appear most difficult with infinite ease, as the fig-tree was made to wither away by a word.
Guzik: Have faith in God: Jesus explains that this miracle was really the result of a prayer made in faith, and He encourages His marveling disciples to have this kind of faith, trusting that God will hear them also.
b. In God: Jesus makes it clear: prayer must be offered in faith, and faith must be in God, not “just there” or “faith in faith.” Faith is trust, confidence, and reliance upon someone or something.
c. Some, using Greek transliterations, have said Jesus was really saying that we must “Have God’s faith.”
Barnes: Have faith in God - Literally, “Have the faith of God.” This may mean, have strong faith, or have confidence in God; a strong belief that he is able to accomplish things that appear most difficult with infinite ease, as the fig-tree was made to wither away by a word.
Mark 11:23 MKJV For truly I say to you that whoever shall say to this mountain, Be moved and be cast into the sea, and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that what he said shall occur, he shall have whatever he said.
Mark 11:24 MKJV Therefore I say to you, All things, whatever you ask, praying, believe that you shall receive them, and it will be to you.
Guzik: c. Whoever says to this mountain, “Be removed”: Mountain was a popular figure of speech for any insurmountable problem; Jesus is saying, as we believe, God can overcome any obstacle.
i. “The phrase about removing mountains was a quite common Jewish phrase. It was a regular, vivid phrase for removing difficulties.” (Barclay)
ii. This promise of God’s answer to the prayer made in faith is made to disciples, not to the multitude. “Nor should we interpret Mar_11:24 to mean, ‘If you pray hard enough and really believe, God is obligate to answer your prayer no matter what you ask.’ That kind of faith is not faith in God; rather it is nothing but faith in faith, or faith in feelings.” (Wiersbe)
Russell: Unto this mountain -- Symbol of difficulties and obstructions in our Christian course.
Be thou removed -- God gave no such command; hence, faith would have no basis for operation. God does not command foolish or unnecessary changes. By their "faith in God" (verse 22) it was not to them an incredible thing that God should raise the dead.
Cast into the sea -- But shall believe -- Have absolute confidence in the Word of God. R5446:4
He shall have -- If they should receive a command from God to move a mountain, and should give the command with faith, the results would follow.
JFB: it is plain that not physical but moral obstacles to the progress of His kingdom were in the Redeemer’s view, and that what He designed to teach was the great lesson, that no obstacle should be able to stand before a confiding faith in God.
Do you have mountains between you and God?
Have you desired to remove that mountain in faith?
Mark 11:25 MKJV And when you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive it so that also your Father in Heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
Mar 11:25 TPT And whenever you stand praying, if you find that you carry something in your heart against another person, release him and forgive him so that your Father in heaven will also release you and forgive you of your faults.
Barnes: And when ye stand praying - When ye pray. It seems that the posture in prayer was sometimes standing and sometimes kneeling. God looks upon “the heart” rather than upon our position in worship; and if the heart be right, any posture may be proper. It cannot be doubted, however, that in private, in the family, and wherever it can be conveniently done, the kneeling posture is more proper, as expressing more humility and reverence, and more in accordance with Scripture examples. Compare Psa_95:6; 2Ch_6:13; Dan_6:10; Luk_22:41; Act_7:60; Act_9:40. Yet a subject like this may be made of too much consequence, and we should be careful that anxiety about a mere form should not exclude anxiety about a far more important matter - the state of the soul.
Guzik: Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him: A lack of faith is not the only obstacle to effective prayer. A lack of forgiveness and bitterness can also hinder our prayer.
i. The point may also be that this is an area where we need great faith. Sometimes a hard and unforgiving heart is bigger than any mountain.
b. Therefore, we are never to place religious duty or ministry ahead of good relationship with people - if you stand praying and you have anything against anyone, set it right - then continue on in prayer.
i. We are to do what Paul commanded in Rom_12:18 : If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
Are you holding something against someone that you need to let go?
Mark 11:26 MKJV But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in Heaven forgive your trespasses.
Guzik: If you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses: The forgiven heart will forgive others. If we have hard, unforgiving hearts, it calls into question if we have ever received or appreciated the forgiveness God offers us.
Cole: “This is not an arbitrary refusal by God to forgive us. We in our own unforgiving spirit have made it impossible for ourselves to accept the forgiveness freely offered by God since we refuse to adopt the only attitude in which it can be appropriated.”
Mark 11:27 MKJV And they came again to Jerusalem. And as He was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to Him
Guzik: As He was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to Him: Jesus wasn’t looking for these great debates with the religious leaders. He wanted to teach the people and tell them about God’s good news. But the questioners came to Him, and He was more than able to handle them.
Hawker: I am inclined to think, that those sworn enemies to CHRIST, who are said here to have come to JESUS in the temple, demanding his authority, came in a public body, by way of confronting him; and as those who were sent by the Sanhedrim for that purpose, and determined to silence him, and put an end to his preaching. The LORD Jesus had turned out the buyers and sellers from the temple, and had healed the blind and lame which came to him for that purpose into the temple; and was now teaching the people while walking about the temple, as was the custom in those days among a set of philosophers, who walked with the pupils as they taught them. Let the Reader figure to himself the LORD JESUS thus attacked, and observe the wisdom of the LORD in his answer.
Mark 11:28 MKJV and said to Him, By what authority do you do these things? And who gave you this authority to do these things?
Gill: the chief priests and elders of the people came unto him. The "chief priests" were not the high priest, and his "sagan", or deputy, but the principal of the priesthood, who were chosen from the rest of their brethren, to sit in the sanhedrim; and "the elders of the people" were the laity that were chosen from among the people, to be members of the same grand council: in this sense the Jewish writers interpret the word "elders", in Deu_21:2 "thy elders, and thy judges…
The other Evangelists Mark and Luke add to these, Scribes, who also were a part of this great assembly; so that the principal members of it, if not the whole sanhedrim, came in a body together, if possible, by their presence and authority, to daunt Christ, discourage his ministry, bring it into contempt with the people, and stop his proceedings and success. And this they did
as he was teaching; the people, that is, preaching the Gospel to them, as Luke explains it: he was instructing them in the things relating to himself, and his kingdom, dispensing the mysteries of his grace, the doctrines of regeneration, justification, and salvation.
And said, by what authority dost thou these things? that is, drive out the buyers and sellers out of the temple, which greatly provoked them, their own gain and interest being concerned therein; and perform these miracles of restoring sight to the blind, and causing the lame to walk; which he had very lately wrought in the temple; and particularly preach these doctrines, the work in which he was then engaged:
and who gave thee this authority? They do not object to his doctrines, or dispute whether they were true or false; nor examine his miracles, whether they were of God, or of the devil: in these points they might fear he would be able to put them to silence and confusion, of which some of them had had an experience before; but they proceed in another way, in which they might hope for success, and attack him about his commission and authority under which he acted, whether he pretended to derive his authority from God, or from men: by this they designed to ensnare him and hoped they should gain their point, let him answer in what form he would. Should he say that God gave him the authority to do these things, they would charge him with enthusiasm and blasphemy, urging, that it was wickedness and presumption any man to pretend to be sent immediately from God; since the order of the priesthood, and of teaching was fixed, and none were to take upon them the office of a priest, or of a teacher of the people, but by their appointment; or none were called and sent, but through them, or by their means: and if he should say, that he had his authority from men, they would confront him, and absolutely deny that he had any from them, who only had the power of giving men an authority of preaching in the temple; wherefore he must be an usurper of this office, and a turbulent, seditious person, that sought to destroy all order, civil and ecclesiastical,
Guzik: By what authority are You doing these things? Jesus has been extremely courageous by boldly entering Jerusalem and driving out the corrupt merchants from the temple courts. Now the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders want to know what right He thinks He has to do such things.
- This is a great question for today: “Who are you to tell us what to do?” In today’s world, no one wants to be told what to do and they question the authority of anyone who tells them what to do. However, we should all recognize and submit to God’s authority to tell us what to do.
Are we sometimes like these scribes and priests and think only one who has gone to a Christian seminary has the right to preach the Word?
Do we sometimes judge the messenger and not listen to the message?
Mark 11:29 MKJV And Jesus answered and said to them, I will also ask of you one thing, and answer Me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things.
Guzik: I will also ask you one question: When Jesus asked them to answer the question regarding John the Baptist, He was not evading their question because if John was from God, then he was right about Jesus, that He was the Messiah. If what John said was true, then Jesus had all authority.
i. “It was not a dodge, but a home thrust that cleared the air and defined their attitude both to John and Jesus. They rejected John as they now reject Jesus.” (Robertson)
ii. “The Lord’s question was not a trap; it was yet another opportunity for them to realize and confess their blindness, and ask for sight.” (Cole)
Mark 11:30 MKJV The baptism of John, was it from Heaven, or from men? Answer Me.
MHCC: Our Saviour shows how near akin his doctrine and baptism were to those of John; they had the same design and tendency, to bring in the gospel kingdom. These elders did not deserve to be taught; for it was plain that they contended not for truth, but victory: nor did he need to tell them; for the works he did, told them plainly he had authority from God; since no man could do the miracles which he did, unless God were with him.
Hawker: By directing not only the minds of his enemies to the subject of John’s ministry, but also those to whom he was preaching his Gospel, the LORD took the most effectual method to throw to the ground their opposition, and establish his mission. They dared not admit John’s ministry to be of divine appointment; for in so doing they would have acknowledged CHRIST, for the whole of John’s office pointed to CHRIST. And most probably the congregation to whom Jesus was then preaching, had been among John’s disciples; so that to have denied John’s mission, would have been dangerous.
Mark 11:31 MKJV And they reasoned within themselves, saying, If we shall say, From Heaven, he will say, Why then did you not believe him?
Benson: Did God or man give him his authority to act and teach? This question reduced the priests and elders to an inextricable dilemma: and they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven, &c. — They considered, on the one hand, that if they should acknowledge John’s mission to be from God, it would oblige them to acknowledge Christ’s authority; John having more than once borne testimony to him as the Messiah. On the other hand, if they denied John’s divine mission, they did not know but the people, who stood listening to Jesus, would stone them; for they generally believed John to have been a prophet, many of them had submitted to his baptism, and at present not a few held him in high esteem on Christ’s account. Wherefore, as matters stood, they judged it safest to answer that they could not tell whence John’s baptism was.
Hawker: The wretched state to which they were reduced, therefore, in confessing their ignorance, serves to shew the awful delusion under which those men were. And Reader, when we recollect that this transaction took place only a few days before CHRIST’s death, the matter becomes yet more awful concerning them; for though put to silence and unable to answer CHRIST, they departed from him only with more determined hatred to seek his immediate death. Reader! You and I shalt have read this account to very little profit, if it doth not teach us to what a desperate state the heart of man is capable of being hardened; and at the same time the distinguishing mercy of GOD in every instance where grace is given to believe the record GOD hath given of his dear SON! 1Jn_5:10-11.
When you come face to face with a life altering decision, if you have ever come to see that a doctrine that you held dear was in fact not the truth—what did you do?
Did you embrace the real Truth, or cling with a death grip to what you now know to be error?
Mark 11:32 MKJV But if we shall say, From men, they feared the people, for all held John to be a prophet indeed.
Darby: The scribes and priests and elders are confounded, and demand His authority. He addresses their conscience, but in such a manner as to demonstrate their incompetency to ask Him such a question, exposing at the same time their insincerity. They could not decide with respect to the baptism of John: by what right then could they subject Him to their questions respecting His own claims? They could not decide when the case was before them. On the other hand, they must either sanction His work by their reply, or lose their authority with the people by denying the baptism of John who had borne testimony to Christ. It was no longer a question of winning these men; but what an empty thing is the wisdom of man in the presence of the Lord and his wisdom!
The change of dispensation has a more definite place in Matthew, and the sin which rejected the King. In Mark, it is more the service of Christ as the Prophet. Afterwards, as we have seen, He presents Himself as King.
Consequently we find in Matthew more personal accusations, as in the parable of the two sons (Mat_21:28-32), and the detail of the change of dispensation in the parable of the marriage feast (Mat_22:1-14); neither of which is in Mark. In our Gospel, the unchangeable dignity of His Person, and the simple fact that the Prophet and King were rejected (rejection that led to Israel's judgment) are set before us by the Spirit of God. Otherwise it is the same general testimony we have reviewed in Matthew.
What holds you back from embracing the Truth? Fear of losing your friends?
Mark 11:33 MKJV And they answered and said to Jesus, We cannot tell. And answering Jesus said to them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.
Guzik: We do not know: Their response to His question exposed the fact that these men were not sincere seekers of truth. They cared more about scoring rhetorical points in debate and in pleasing the crowds than in knowing the truth.
i. “The whole story is a vivid example of what happens to men who will not face the truth. They have to twist and wriggle and in the end get themselves into a position in which they are so helplessly involved that they have nothing to say.” (Barclay) It is more difficult at first to face the truth and admit wrong, but it is the only path with a real future.
c. If we ask Jesus to give us answers, we must deal rightly with the truth that is already revealed. These men knew that John said Jesus was the Messiah, and were not willing to even deal with that.
Benson: And he said, Neither tell I you — That is, not again in express terms: he had often told them before, and they would not believe him. Thus, by the question which he put to them, he obliged them to confess that they had not been able to pass any judgment upon John the Baptist, notwithstanding he claimed the character of a messenger from God, and they had sent to examine his pretensions. This in effect was to acknowledge themselves incapable of judging of any prophet whatsoever. “Ye are come,” said he, “to inquire into the proofs of my mission. I agree to submit myself to your examination, on condition that you tell me what your determination was concerning John. Was he a true or a false prophet? You say you do not know. But if you were not able to form a judgment concerning John, how can you take upon you to judge me?” In this light our Lord’s question, in answer to theirs, appears to have been formed with the greatest wisdom; because, whether the priests replied in the affirmative or in the negative, or gave no reply at all, they absolutely condemned themselves.
Are you willingly blind like the scribes and Pharisees?