Mark 11

Mark 11:11

Jesus entered Jerusalem and came into the temple; and after looking around at everything, He left for Bethany with the twelve, since it was already late.

(a) Looking around. What Jesus saw was that the money changers were back. At the beginning of his public ministry, he had overturned their tables and driven the livestock from the temple (John 2:13–17). Tomorrow, he would do it again (see Mark 11:15).

(b) Bethany was a village about two miles from Jerusalem; see entry for John 11:18.

Mark 11:13

Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.

He found nothing. John, the last of the old covenant prophets, urged the religious Jews to “Bear the fruit of repentance” (Matt 3:8), but they didn’t listen. Then for three years Jesus searched Israel in vain for the fruit of faith. When Jesus entered Jerusalem at the start of his final week, the people waved branches without fruit and the next morning, Jesus cursed a fruitless fig tree (see next verse).

Mark 11:14

He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening.

The cursing of the fruitless fig tree was a prophetic act symbolizing Israel’s self-inflicted rejection. See entry for Mark 11:21.

Mark 11:15

Then they came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves;

Drive out. This was the second time Jesus cleared the temple. The first time happened at the beginning of his public ministry (John 2:13–17). On that occasion, Jesus drove out the livestock with a homemade whip and he overturned the tables of the money changers. Evidently, the merchants had moved back in, so Jesus cleared them out again.

All this activity took place in the outer Court of the Gentiles. This court was set aside for non-Jewish proselytes as a place of worship. It was a sacred place where people came from all over the world to worship God. But the temple officials had allowed the merchants to turn the court into a marketplace.

Mark 11:16

and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple.

Carry merchandise. In addition to being a marketplace, the Court of the Gentiles had become a thoroughfare for people carrying household items, baskets, and vessels from one part of the city to another.

The temple precinct was a massive 35 acre complex. For Jesus to put a stop to all trade and through-traffic would have required a coordinated effort involving his disciples. But shut it down he did. The religious leaders were alarmed. Since Jesus had become a threat to their business, they resolved to kill him (Mark 11:18, Luke 19:47).

Mark 11:17

And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL THE NATIONS’? But you have made it a ROBBERS’ DEN.”

Robbers. The original word (lestes) means armed brigands of the kind who robbed and beat the traveler on the road to Jericho (Luke 10:30), and who also menaced Paul in his travels (2 Cor. 11:26). Two such brigands were crucified beside Christ (Matt. 27:38), and Barabbas was also a brigand (John. 18:40).

Mark 11:18

The chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching.

(a) The chief priests; see entry for Matt. 2:4.

(b) Scribes; see entry for Matt. 5:20.

Mark 11:21

Being reminded, Peter said to Him, “Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered.”

Withered. The Israelites cut themselves off through unbelief. “God did not reject his people … they were broken off because of unbelief” (Rom. 11:2, 20).

The religious Jews trusted in themselves. Their source was self and their root was their downfall. Just as the fig tree withered from the roots up, the religious Jews rotted from the inside-out. What should they have done? They should have listened to Jesus. They should have abandoned their quest for self-improvement, put their faith in God, and allowed themselves to be grafted into the living Vine.

Mark 11:22

And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God.

Have faith in God. The vast majority of first-century Jews had faith in God and this would have been true of the disciples. They believed that God was one (Jas. 2:19). But while this is a good start, this is not a saving faith (see entry for Jas. 2:14), and it’s not the kind of faith that moves mountains.

Mark 11:23

“Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.

(a) Does not doubt. Doubt is a faith-killer. The one who doubts has the mind of a storm-tossed sea (Jas. 1:6). The remedy to doubt is not to whip yourself into a frenzy of DIY faith, but to remind yourself of the goodness of God.

(b) But believes. To have faith is to be persuaded that God is who he says he is. Faith is a persuasion or a noun, while believing is a work or a verb. It is possible to have faith in God yet still be captive to doubt and unbelief.

Mark 11:24

“Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.

Believe that you have received them. Everything comes to us by grace and is received by faith.

Mark 11:25

“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.

(a) Your Father. The Almighty Creator wants you to relate to him as your loving Father. See entry for Matthew 5:16.

(a) Forgive; see entry for Forgiveness.

(b) Will also forgive you. The sole condition for receiving the gift of forgiveness is faith (see previous verse). But if you harbor unforgiveness in your heart, you’re going to have a hard time receiving God’s forgiveness. Conversely, when you know how much Christ has forgiven you, you will be empowered to forgive others (Col. 3:13). See entry for Luke 11:4.

Mark 11:26

[“But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.”]

This verse is in brackets and omitted from some Bibles as it does not appear in some manuscripts. It seems to be a repetition of something Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount. See entry for Matthew 6:15.

Mark 11:27

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,

(a) Walking to the temple. Mark records the temple officials questioning Jesus en route to the temple while Matthew and Luke say they questioned him while he was teaching at the temple (Matt. 21:23, Luke 19:47).

(b) The chief priests; see entry for Matt. 2:4.

(c) Scribes; see entry for Matt. 5:20.

(d) Elders; see entry for Matt. 16:21.

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