Mark 11

11:1 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage [located outside Jerusalem near Mount of Olives] and Bethany [the home of Mary, Martha, Lazarus; Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead there (John 11-12); Jesus anointed for burial at home of Simon the Leper in Bethany (Matt. 26:6; Mk. 14:3)] at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples,

11:2 saying to them, “Go to the village [Bethany] ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden [cf. Num. 19:2; Deut. 21:3; 1 Sam. 6:7 re: use of animals for sacred purposes]. Untie it and bring it here.

11:3 If anyone asks you [Jesus anticipated that the disciples would be questioned re: their actions], ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it [it’s amazing to consider the things that the Lord needs and whether we freely and unreservedly give him what he needs and asks of us] and will send it back here shortly.’”

11:4 They went and found [the disciples found everything exactly as Jesus’ said] a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it,

11:5 some people standing there asked [cf. Lk. 19:33], “What are you doing, untying that colt?”

11:6 They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go.

11:7 When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it [cf. 2 Kings 9:12-13 re: cloaks spread out for King Jehu], he sat on it.

11:8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road [this road was approximately one mile outside of Jerusalem], while others spread branches they had cut in the fields [cf. Matt. 21:8; Ps. 118:27; this event commemorated in observance of Palm Sunday].

11:9 [cf. prophecy in Zech. 9:9] Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted [see Ps. 118:25-26], “Hosanna [means “save now”]!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord [possibly recited as part of Passover tradition and as a blessing to visiting pilgrims]!”

11:10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David [cf. God’s words to David in 2 Sam. 7:12-16]!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

11:11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany [perhaps to the home of his friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus] with the Twelve.

11:12 The next day [Monday] as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry [He therefore understands and is sympathetic to our hunger; cf. Heb. 4:15].

11:13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf [an indication that the fig tree should have had edible buds], he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs.

11:14 Then he said to the tree [this incident was an acted-out parable to show Jesus’ displeasure with religion without substance], “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.

11:15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers [exchanged Roman currency (could not be used because they bore the image of Caesar) and currencies of those who had traveled to Jerusalem from other countries into Jewish currency (Hebrew shekels) needed to pay temple tax and buy sacrifices; Passover represented huge opportunity for money changers] and the benches of those selling doves [commonly used by the poor for sin offerings and burnt offerings (Lev. 1:14; 5:7) and as sacrifices for cleansing of women and lepers (Lev. 12:6)],

11:16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts [the only area of the temple accessible to the Gentiles].

11:17 And as he taught them [this was indeed a teachable moment], he said [Jesus quoted Isa. 56:7 (God’s intention for the temple) and Jer. 7:11 (how God’s intention for the temple was violated)], “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”

11:18 The chief priests [mostly Sadducees] and the teachers of the law [mostly Pharisees] heard this and began looking for a way to kill him [these two groups did not like each other (see Acts 23:6-10) but they did agree on their dislike of Jesus; ironic that these religious leaders had thoughts of murder while at the temple], for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed [spellbound] at his teaching.

11:19 When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city [most likely returned to Bethany; note in next verse that they passed the same fig tree the following morning].

11:20 In the morning [Tuesday], as they went along, they saw the fig tree [see Mk. 11:13-14] withered from the roots.

11:21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered [Jerusalem would suffer the same fate as the fig tree in AD 70]!”

11:22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered.

11:23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain [the Mount of Olives on which they stood], ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea [the Dead Sea located a short distance away],’ and does not doubt [to be in two minds; to waver in their confidence in God] in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.

11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask [God does not grant requests that are contrary to His will or His nature; what we ask must be in harmony with God’s purposes, principles, and interests] for in prayer [prayer must be made in Jesus’ name (Jn. 14:13-14)], believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

11:25 And [this is yet another condition for answered prayer] when you stand [common posture for Jews in prayer] praying, if you hold anything against anyone [our horizontal relationships matter and have an impact on our vertical relationship with God], forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

11:26 [note: this verse not included here in some versions; see also Matt. 6:15 and Lk. 11:4] “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.”

11:27 They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, [note presence of representatives of the three groups that made up the seventy-one-member Jewish ruling council known as the Sanhedrin] the [1] chief priests, the [2] teachers of the law and the [3] elders came to him.

11:28 [delegation of religious leaders intent on finding fault with or entrapping Jesus; this delegation was already plotting to kill Jesus as per Mk. 11:18] “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?” [possible replies include: (1) by God’s authority or (2) by His own authority; the first reply would be seen as blasphemous and worthy of death penalty (Lev. 24:10-23); the second reply would dismiss Jesus as a fanatic]

11:29 Jesus replied [countered question with a question], “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

11:30 John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!”

11:31 They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’

11:32 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’ … [which is the answer they preferred]” (They feared the people [cf. Lk. 20:6], for everyone held that John really was a prophet.)

11:33 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know [this was a way for hem to save face].” Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

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