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BIBLE STUDY on the Gospel of Mark
Theme: Triumphal entry; fig tree cursed; Jesus cleanses temple; fig tree withered; prayer; authority of Jesus.
The last days in the earthly life of the Lord Jesus is before us. This chapter could be divided in the following way:
- Jesus presents Himself publicly to His nation as the Messiah (verses 1-11).
- Jesus brings a blight on the fig tree (verses 12-14).
- Jesus purifies the Temple (verses 15-26).
- Jesus' sermon on prayer (verses 22-26).
- Jesus agitates the religious rulers (verses 27-33).
Mark’s eleventh chapter deals with the three days that He came into Jerusalem. I really cannot agree with His so-called triumphal entry as being that at all. It was the Lord Jesus coming to Jerusalem publicly, at the end of His earthly ministry and presenting Himself to the Jews as their Messiah. In reality, it was a rejection of His offer to them. He really came in on three different days, not just one day. Each Gospel presents a different feature of His Coming into Jerusalem. The first day He came was a Sabbath Day, Saturday. He returned on Sunday and cleansed the temple. Then He returned on Monday and wept over the city.
His Public Entry into Jerusalem (Mark 11:1-11)
(Mat.21:1-11; Lk.19:29-44; Jn.12:12-19)
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, (KJV)
And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany . . . Jesus, with His apostles and the multitude. Both Mark and Luke say that He came near to both those places. Bethany was the place where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus raised from the dead (Jn.11:1), where Martha and Mary dwelt; and where Mary anointed Him with ointment (Jn.12:1-7). These circumstances are omitted by the first three writers, but is given to us by John, who wrote after them. The Mount of Olives is about a mile in length, and about seven hundred feet in height, and overlooks Jerusalem, and from its summit almost every part of the city can be seen. The mountain is made up of three peaks or summits. Our Saviour is supposed to have ascended from the middle one. Bethphage . . . the Jews say it was within the walls of the city of Jerusalem, and was in all respects as the city itself, and was the outermost part of it. All within the outward circumference of the city of Jerusalem was called Bethphage.
At the Mount of Olives . . . which was near these places. This mount was so called because of the abundance of olive trees which grew there, and was on the east side of Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away (Acts 1:12), or about one mile.
He sendeth forth two of his disciples . . . maybe Peter and John, although it is not told to us.
(Mat.21:1). Also see Luke 19:29-44.
Mark 11:2 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. (KJV)
And saith unto them, Go your way into the village . . . either to Bethany or to Nob. Some think that the city of Jerusalem is meant, but give no reason.
Over against you . . . some versions read, "over against us" . . . the logic is the same; for Christ and His disciples were together. This could have been either of the above mentioned places.
And as soon as ye be entered into it . . . as you come to the town, to one of the first houses in it,
Ye shall find a colt tied . . . Matthew says, "an ass tied, and a colt with her" (Mat.21:2), or in other words, an ass and a colt together . . . one or both tied.
Whereon never man sat . . . which had never been sat upon or broke. This is all the more wonderful, that Christ Jesus choose to ride upon the colt, and that it would quietly carry Him. I made my living breaking horses and mules. To ride an unbroken colt is just NOT done! It takes a while to be able to sit on a colt, and MUCH longer to ride him quietly through a multitude of screaming people.
Loose him, and bring him . . . bring the colt to me.
Mark 11:3 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. (KJV)
And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? . . . this makes sense. It was almost certain that someone would want to know WHY they were taking the colt away, a colt that did not belong to them.
Say ye that the Lord hath need of him . . . it seems as if this title, "the Lord", was what Jesus was well known by. It is possible that the owners of the colt believed in Christ, and maybe even knew Him, or at least knew OF Him, and so would at once understand by the language Who it was for, and let it go.
And straightway he will send him, hither . . . straightway = right now, immediately. As soon as he hears that the Lord Jesus, wanted the colt for His use, he will send him with all eagerness and willingness, no hesitation, no dispute.
Mark 11:4 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. (KJV)
And they went their way . . . the two apostles went to the village, where Christ told them to go, without protesting.
And found the colt tied by the door without . . . in the street, tied by the door of the owner's house, at the end of town.
In a place where two ways met . . . the house was on a corner lot, where roadways ways met, a very public place, where such an thing could not be conducted, without being seen.
And they loose him . . . as soon as they came to the place, they immediately began to untie the colt, and were going away with him.
Mark 11:5 And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt? (KJV)
And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye loosing the colt? . . . men who either walked there, or who were standing or walking around the place, being inhabitants and/or the owners of the colt. What do ye mean by this? What business have you with it? What right have you to do so?
Mark 11:6 And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded: and they let them go. (KJV)
And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded: and they let them go . . . the very precise words of Jesus. "The Lord hath need of him", upon which they said no more, were satisfied that they could untie the colt, and take it with them (Mat.21:6).
Mark 11:7 And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him. (KJV)
And they brought the colt to Jesus . . . to where He was,
And cast their garments on him . . . put their clothes on the colt in place of a saddle, for Jesus to sit on.
And he sat upon him . . . or "Jesus rode on him", as one version renders it. He rode the colt on His way to Jerusalem (Mat.21:7).
Mark 11:8 And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way. (KJV)
And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way . . . many showed the respect by throwing their clothes before Him. This was the way in which conquerors and princes were often honored. To cast flowers, or garlands, or evergreens, before a warrior returning from victory, or a king entering into his kingdom, was a common way of bearing witness to a joyful and triumphant feeling. Some of this great multitude had followed Christ from Jericho, and many of the people were come up to the feast of the Passover from different towns, and met Him from Jerusalem (Jn.12:12-13).
And others cut down branches off the trees . . . John says that these branches were branches of the palm-tree (Jn.12:13). The palm was an symbol of joy and victory. It was used by the Roman soldiers as well as the Jews, as a symbol of peace (Rev.7:9).
The palm-tree is common in warm climates, and was abundant in Palestine. The best ones grew around Jericho and Engeddi. Jericho was called the city of palm-trees (Deut.34:3; 2 Chron.28:15). See: (Mat.21:8).
Mark 11:9 And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: (KJV)
And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord . . . there were two groups of people, those that came from Jerusalem to meet Him, and those who had followed Him from Jericho and other areas. There were two bodies of people, one went in front of Him, and the other followed after Him.
Mark 11:10 Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest. (KJV)
Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord . . . it was more usual for the Jews to call Abraham their father; but because the Messiah was David's Son, therefore, with respect to him, they here call David their father: and their meaning is, let the Kingdom promised to our father David, and to his seed be forever. Blessed be the kingdom . . . this shows that the people expected Jesus to immediately set up the kingdom of David, and to assume the throne which had been vacant from the time of the Babylon captivity. Luke states it as a fact in connection with His departure from Jericho on this journey to Jerusalem, that the multitude who followed Him "thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear" (Lk.19:11). It was the joyful thought of national independence and glory that inspired their cheers . . . but it was the same feeling that prepared them for the opposite feeling toward Jesus, when they found Him a prisoner in the hands of Pontius Pilate.
Mark 11:11 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. (KJV)
And Jesus entered into Jerusalem . . . by this public entry, His riding upon an ass (Zec.9:9), with the multitude attending Him, some going before, and others after, crying, "Hosanna" to Him.
And into the temple . . . He rode directly up to the Temple. He went into the Temple, into the court of the Gentiles; where He found and overturned the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and healed the lame and the blind.
And when he had looked round about upon all things . . . in the Temple, as the Lord and Proprietor of it; checking it thoroughly, and and corrected what was wrong in it.
And now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve . . . having spent the greater part of the day in reforming abuses in the Temple, in healing diseases, and disputing with the chief priests and Scribes. When evening came, He did not think it fit for some reason, to stay in the city; but went out to Bethany, which was almost two miles away and stayed there. See Matthew 21:12-17 for his version of this event.
Jesus’ first cleansing of the temple is described in John 2:14-17, as having taken place just after Jesus’ first miracle, the turning of water into wine at the wedding in Cana. These verses trace Jesus’ movement over a short period of time from Cana in Galilee to Capernaum and eventually to Jerusalem for the Passover. This is the first of TWO temple cleansings of Jesus, and it is not mentioned in the synoptic Gospels. The second cleansing of the temple occurred just after Jesus’ so-called triumphant entry into Jerusalem the last week of His life. This second cleansing is recorded in Matthew, Mark and Luke, but not in John. There are differences in the two events, as well as their being nearly three years apart. In the first cleansing, temple officials confronted Jesus immediately (Jn.2:18), while in the second cleansing, the chief priests and scribes confronted Him the following day (Mat.21:17-23). In the first event, which I love, Jesus made a whip of cords to drive out the greedy sellers, I can “see” in my mind, the Lord Jesus using that whip in His righteous anger, on those greedy sellers; but there is no mention of a whip in the second cleansing.
So there are two recorded occasions when Jesus cleansed the temple . . . the first time at the beginning of His public ministry, and the second time just after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem soon before He was crucified.
Mark 11:11 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. (KJV)
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 . . . this cleansing of the Temple probably did not take place on the day that Jesus entered Jerusalem riding the donkey, but on the following day. He came and looked around at all things, and Mark says, He went out to Bethany with the twelve. The next day, returning from Bethany, He saw the fig-tree. Entering into the temple, He purified it. The Temple of God, or the Temple dedicated and devoted to the service of God, was built on Mount Moriah. The first Temple was built by Solomon, about 1006 years before Christ (1 Ki.6:1). It took Solomon seven years to build it (1 Ki.6:38). David, his father, had considered building it, and had prepared many materials for it, but was prevented, because he had been a man of war (1 Chron.22:1-9; 1 Ki.5:5). This Temple was magnificent, and remained until it was destroyed by the Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar, five hundred and eighty-four years before Christ (2 Chron.36:6,7,19). See: Matthew 21:12.
The Barren Fig-tree Cursed (Mark 11:12-14)
Mark 11:12 And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry: (KJV)
And on the morrow . . . the next day early in the morning,
When they were come from Bethany . . . Jesus and His apostles. The twelve who went with Him there, and returned with him, as appears from (verse 14). As they came out of that place early, not having eaten anything, they were hungry (Mat.21:18).
Mark 11:13 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. (KJV)
And seeing a fig tree afar off . . . by the wayside, some distance from Him.
Having leaves . . . very large and spreading, making a great show, as if there might be fruit.
He came . . . up to it.
If haply he might find any thing thereon . . . any fruit; for he saw at a distance, there were leaves upon it; and which was the more remarkable, since it was the time of the fig tree just putting forth its tender branches, leaves, and fruit.
And when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves . . . no fruit at all, just the deceptive appearance the tree made.
For the time of figs was not yet . . . the fact that it was not yet fig time made it the worse for this tree, because on this kind of fig tree, the fruit forms before the leaves, and should be full grown when the leaves appear. So this tree, by putting on its foliage before the time for figs, was declaring itself superior to all the other fig trees.
And found nothing thereon but leaves only . . . Mark says, "he came, if haply he might find anything thereon"; which we must be understand of Him as Man. He was hungry. This is absolutely NO contradiction to His deity, and His having the Spirit of God.
He said unto it, let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever . . . or, as it is expressed in Mark, "no man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever" . . . for if none grew on it afterward, no man could eat of it. Both expressions intend the same thing, the perpetual barrenness of the fig tree.
And presently the fig tree withered away . . . right now, straightway, immediately, when Jesus spoke these words, its sap was dried up, its leaves shriveled and shrunk up and dropped off. This tree was a symbol of the Jews (Hos.9:10; Mat.21:19; 24:32).
Christ Jesus is very eager for the salvation of men, ALL men! Salvation was first offered to the Jews so that they might become ministers of the Gospel of Christ to the world. It came first to the Jews (Rom.1:16; 2:9-10), from whom, on account of their great profession of religion, and their great pretense of holiness, and the many advantages they enjoyed as God’s people, MUCH fruit of righteousness was expected from them . . . BUT . . . sad to say, Jesus found nothing but mere words, empty claims, an outward show of religion, an external profession and a minor show of unimportant ceremonies and oral traditions. Because of this, Christ Jesus rejected His own (Jn.1:11), and a short time later, the Gospel was taken away from them, and their beloved Temple, city and nation was completely destroyed. Israel, as God’s chosen people: (Ex.19:5-6; 33:16; Lev.20:24,26; Deut.4:20; 7:6; 9:26,29; 14:2,21; 26:18-19; 32:9; 2 Sam.21:3; 1 Ki.8:51,53; Ps.33:12; 68:9; Jer.10:16). The Jews, as well as Gentiles, are loved by God, BUT when someone keeps on keeping on in disobedience to God, His wrath is kindled, and shall come down hard on those who refuse to repent.
When Jesus cursed the fig tree, He was actually condemning Israel’s worship of God. He was symbolically denouncing Israel as a nation and, in a way, He was also condemning unfruitful “Christians” too. Christians, unfruitful: (Isa.5:2,4; Mat.3:10; 13:22; Mk.4:19; Jn.15:2,6; Heb.6:7-8; Tit.3:14; 2 Pet.1:8; Jude 1:12) . . . meaning people who profess to be Christians but do NOT possess Christ in their heart (hypocrites).
The presence of a fruitful fig tree was considered to be a symbol of blessing and prosperity for the nation of Israel. And too, the scarcity of fruit, or death of a fig tree would symbolize the opposite: judgment and rejection. Symbolically, that fig tree represented the spiritual deadness of Israel, who were very religious OUTWARDLY, with all their sacrifices and ceremonies (like so many cults today), but they were spiritually barren because of their sins (disobedience to God).
I really do think that by His cleansing the Temple and cursing that fig tree, causing it to wither and die, Jesus was announcing His coming judgment on Israel and clearly demonstrating that He did indeed have the power to carry it out. Another lesson for us here: religious profession and vigilantly observing ceremonies will NOT guarantee eternal salvation! There MUST be “fruit” of genuine salvation! Fruit MUST be evident in person’s life. James spoke this Truth when he wrote: “faith without works is dead” (Jam.2:26). A TRUE Christian MUST bear spiritual fruit (Gal.5:22-23). Just an outward appearance of religion brings on God’s wrath, as Jesus proves in this Passage. John 15:5-8 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. (KJV)
Mark 11:14 And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it. (KJV)
And Jesus answered and said unto it . . . speaking to the fig tree . . .
No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever . . . Jesus’ Words did NOT make the tree barren, it simply sealed it up its own barrenness. (Mat.13:13-15). The fruits of good works, righteousness and holiness, might have been hoped and looked for from the Jews, but instead there was nothing but talk about doing them, and their compliance of some insignificant rites and traditions of the "elders". . . because of this, utter ruin and destruction followed. Good works are well pleasing to God, and bring forth fruit to the glory of His Name, whereas those who only talk of good works, but do NO fruits of grace and righteousness . . . on the last day, he will be cast as dead wood, as a withered branch, into everlasting burnings (Isa.33:14), being fit fuel for those fires.
And his disciples heard it . . . what He had said. This may be said to explain what was later to be said on the subject (verses 19 & 20).
Second Cleansing of the Temple (Mark 11:15-19) (Mat.21:12-16; Lk.19:45-48)
Mark 11:15 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; (KJV)
And they came to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple . . . some versions say: into the court of the Gentiles, as He did the preceding day.
And began to cast out them that bought and sold in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves . . . 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 that followed, as well as doves that were mentioned, for new mothers, and those who had fluxes. In this part of the Temple where this was done, was in a large space within the area of the temple, where shops were built for that purpose. The "money changers", whose "tables" are said to be "overthrown", mean those who sat at tables to receive the half shekel for taxes, and who changed those that brought whole shekels, or foreign money. "Doves" were the offering of the poorer sort of women after birth, at the time of their purification (Lk.2:24). (Mat.21:12).
Mark 11:16 And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. (KJV)
And would not suffer that any man . . . He was much more strict and severe than He was the day before; giving orders, that they should NOT be allowed to sit and trade in that sacred place, and that no man
Should carry any vessel through the temple . . . this statement is odd to Mark. The practice referred to here is no doubt that of making the Temple court a thoroughfare in carrying burdens from one part of the city to another. People might have disregarded that this was to be used exclusively for sacred uses for which the Temple was built.
Mark 11:17 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. (KJV)
And he taught, saying unto them, is it not written . . . as in Isaiah 56:7 Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. (KJV)
My house shall be called of all nations, the house of prayer? . . . not only the Jews went to the Temple to pray, but the Gentiles also (Lk.18:10), who converted to the Jewish religion, and had a court built for that purpose; and so the whole Temple, from that time, was called a house of prayer . . . meaning that not only should be called so by the Gentiles, but that it should be that to them. House of prayer: (Isa.56:7; Mat.21:13; Mk.11:17; Lk.19:46).
But ye have made it a den of thieves . . . Jesus was calling the buyers and sellers of sheep, oxen and doves, and the money changers, and the priests that encouraged them, and made a profit out of them THIEVES! (Mat.21:13).
Mark 11:18 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. (KJV)
And the Scribes and chief priests heard it . . . the rebuke 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 profaning of the holy place.
And sought how they might destroy him . . . they took counsel together to take away His life, for they hated change.
For they feared him . . . they wanted NO changes or alterations among them, nothing that would affect their credit and character, and gains, and draw the people after Jesus.
Because all the people were astonished at his doctrine . . . both to which were such words as never man spake (Jn.7:46); and as to the way He spoke it, with such majesty, power and authority, far from what the Scribes and Pharisees taught, and also at His amazing miracles, by which it was recognized as an appearance of divine sovereignty and power.
Mark 11:19 And when even was come, he went out of the city. (KJV)
And when even was come, he went out of the city . . . He left Jerusalem, as He did the evening before, and for the same reasons, and most likely went to Bethany, where He had stayed the last night, with Lazarus, Martha, and Mary; or to the Mount of Olives, where He sometimes spent the night in prayer (Mat.14:23; Mk.1:35; Lk.6:12; 9:28; 22:39). Christ took His disciples with Him, as is obvious from the following verse.
The Fig-tree Found Withered (Mark 11:20-26)
Mark 11:20 And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. (KJV)
And in the morning, as they passed by . . . the fig tree, when they returned the next morning from Bethany, or the Mount of Olives, or the place, wherever it was, they had been that night.
They saw the fig tree dried up from the roots . . . they did not see how it had immediately withered as it did, nor did they see it as they went from Jerusalem to the place they spent the night, because it was then in the evening. On their way back to Jerusalem, in the morning, as they came by it and observed that not only that the branches of it, but the trunk of the tree, and even the roots were all dried up. It was completely dead, in such a short time. There was no way to ever to expect it would revive, and bear any more fruit.
Mark 11:21 And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away. (KJV)
And Peter, calling to remembrance . . . what he remembered the most was not so much the tree, and its leaves, and its healthy condition, but the curse of Christ upon it.
Saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away . . . he looked at it with much bewilderment, for it had been just an instant of Christ's surprising power and authority that had caused this. (Mat.21:20).
Mark 11:22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. (KJV)
And Jesus answering, saith unto them . . . what Peter had said, he said for all of them, and according to Matthew, the disciples said, "how soon is the fig tree withered away?" He was expressing his amazement at it, and ascribing it to the power of Christ; of which this was a clear and incredible proof and evidence.
Something we all should consider: often we say to someone, "I can’t believe how quickly that man died! I didn’t even know he was sick.” BUT . . . have you ever considered just how many people take this as a warning of just how brief this life on Earth is? Most people never consider eternity! What we say today about others, may be said tomorrow of ourselves. Here today, gone tomorrow. We do NOT know when God shall call us away. We must be ready! Lord, increase our faith! Brevity of life: (Gen.6:3; 47:9; 2 Sam.19:34; 1 Chron.29:15; Job 4:20; 7:6; 8:9; 9:25; 10:5; 14:2; 16:22; 34:20; 38:21; Ps.39:5; 49:12; 78:39; 89:47; 90:5-6,9-10; 102:3,11,23; 103:16; 144:4; 146:4; Ecc.1:4; 6:12; Isa.38:12; Zec.1:5; Mat.25:13; Jn.9:4; 1 Cor.7:29; 2 Cor. 4:17; Heb.13:14; Jam.4:14; 2 Pet.1:14).
Have faith in God . . . this may mean, have strong faith, or have confidence in God. When we have a strong assurance that God is well able to accomplish things that seem most difficult or impossible, and do them with great ease, like the fig-tree was made to wither away by just a word, it reveals just how awesome He is. Let us make use of that faith which has God for its Author, which is the work of God, a free grace gift from Him; and which has God for its object; and is supported by His power, and encouraged by His goodness, His truth, and His faithfulness. Some versions say: "believe in God". Not only that such things as the drying up a fig tree may be done, but those that are much greater.
Jesus’ Sermon on Prayer (Mark 11:23-26)
Mark 11:23 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. (KJV)
For verily I say unto you, that whosoever shall say unto this mountain . . . the Mount of Olives, at or near where they were now.
Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea . . . the Sea of Galilee, which was the closets, but many miles away.
And shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass . . . not literally meaning to remove a mountain, and casting it into the sea, but anything just as difficult.
He shall have whatsoever he saith . . . whatever is commanded shall be done. The apostles most likely were thinking physically again; and it would indeed be a VERY surprising performance for a mountain to be rooted up, as large as that was, and be taken several miles away from where it was, and be thrown into the sea. And yet, as difficult and amazing as this may seem. Matthew says Jesus said . . . it shall be done . . . IF the person does NOT doubt. The Lord really does NOT mean that they should do these particular things; His sense is, IF they had the faith, they would be well able, not only to do lesser miracles, such as the withering of the fig tree was, but they would be able to perform things much more difficult and astonishing, when ever the good of the souls of men was at stake.
Consider: To remove a mountain, means the power of overcoming any difficulty. The phrase was so used by the Jews. I really do think that the Lord Jesus instead referred, most likely, to the difficulties, persecutions and trials which they would be called to endure in preaching the Gospel. Their faith MUST remain firm and steadfast, for God would work through them.
There is something much more important for us to do than literal mountain moving and fig tree cursing. To bring the Gospel of Christ to a person who is searching, so that the Holy Spirit of God can work on them and bring eternal life to them . . . THAT is a miracle! Any time that we can say something that the Spirit of God can use to transform a life . . . that is the kind of faith we need. What we all need is a firm faith to believe that God can and will use His Word through us.
Mark 11:24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. (KJV)
Therefore I say unto you . . . He encourages the use of prayer more particularly, without which NOTHING should be attempted. (Mk.9:29).
Whatsoever things ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them . . . according to the revealed will of God, for the confirmation of His Gospel, and for the glory of His Name. This, like all the other Promises to answered prayer, is limited by the conditions laid down in the Scriptures. (Mat.7:7-8). This verse is NOT a guarantee that we can get anything we want simply by asking Jesus and believing. God NEVER grants a request that would hurt us or anyone else, OR that would violate His own nature or His will. Jesus' statement here is NOT a blank check. For our requests to be fulfilled, we must be in complete harmony with the principles of God's Kingdom. The stronger our belief in God, the more likely our prayers will be in line with God's will, because believing in God is also knowing God and His Holy Word.
For our prayer to be fulfilled, it must honor and glorify God, we must have a sincere interest in the spreading of the Gospel of Christ, enlarging the Kingdom of Christ, and our own spiritual good must be considered, as well as being concerned with the welfare of eternal souls, and our prayer to God the Father must be in the Name of His Son, Jesus.
Mark 11:25 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. (KJV)
And when ye stand praying . . . and are about to take part in a work, or are engaged in it (Mat.6:5-6).
Forgive, if ye have ought against any, that your Father also in heaven may forgive you your trespasses . . . this seems to mean that IF, while praying, it comes to mind that you have committed a trespass against someone, or done injury to him, he should immediately in his heart forgive him. (Mat.6:14).
Mark 11:26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses. (KJV)
But if ye do not forgive . . . freely and fully, those who have trespassed against you,
Neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses . . . means anyone who does not have any true or right thoughts of forgiveness . . . here is the condition that the person must meet BEFORE prayer is heard and answered. An unforgiving spirit will bring to a halt the power of prayer. God the Father forgives us for Christ's sake (Eph.4:32). BUT . . . if we are to have the power of prayer in our lives, we MUST forgive others who have hurt us . . . as God forgives us when we hurt Him when we disobey Him and sin. (Mat.6:15).
Now we see His enemies, the chief priests coming out to try to trap Him.
Jesus Agitates the Rulers (Mark 11:27-33)
Mark 11:27 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, (KJV)
And they come again to Jerusalem . . . His apostles never were away from Him until He was arrested in the garden. Luke says, that it was "on one of those days" (Lk.20:1), another version reads, "on another day". It must have been the day after the cursing of the fig tree, and two days after His public entrance into Jerusalem.
And as he was walking in the temple . . . not alone, but His apostles and a multitude of people, whom He was teaching and preaching the Gospel to.
There come to him the chief priests, and the Scribes, and the elders . . . the Jewish Sanhedrim; for the chief priests and scribes were those that great council of the nation consisted. (Mat.21:23).
Mark 11:28 And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things? (KJV)
And say unto him, By what authority dost thou do these things? . . . they wanted to know why He did what He did in the Temple, as if He were Lord of it (which He truly was), and correct it in such a overbearing way, everything that He thought was wrong in it; do the miracles He did, as healing the lame, and blind; and instructing the people.
And who gave thee this authority to do these things? . . . they mainly meant driving out the buyers and sellers out of the temple, which really had provoked them, because it hit their pocketbook. They also wanted to know by what right He was performing miracles of restoring sight to the blind, and causing the lame to walk; which He had just recently done. By what authority . . . there was a tiny show of politeness in this question. He was making big changes in the affairs of the Temple, and they wanted to know by what right this was done, without their permission. He was not a priest; and He had no civil or religious authority as a Jew.
Always concealed in self-centeredness, these religious leaders were only concerned about their position and reputation. They did NOT want the Truth! In John 3:19, Jesus summed up this attitude: "People loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil." Anyone who rejects Jesus' claims have a much greater problem than educational doubt; they in truth are rebelling against Christ's control of their lives. They try to ask tricky questions, but they really do NOT really want an answer. Anyone who is sincerely seeking, shall find the Truth (Mat.7:7-8). They would not admit that His was truly adequate authority, and that He came as a Prophet, and worked miracles. They simply were not happy with that. (Mat.21:23).
Mark 11:29 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. (KJV)
And Jesus answered and said unto them . . . He was not the least bit intimidated by these men.
I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these . . . if you can answer my one question, I will tell you by what authority I do these things.
Mark 11:30 The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me. (KJV)
The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me. . . the teaching of which John the Baptist was the first preacher, and the ordinance of baptism which he was the first to administer.
Was it from heaven, or of men . . . was it of God or of men?
Answer me . . . tell me the answer. When they considered the question, they thought: if we say, From heaven, He will ask why we did not believe Him, because they claimed to hear all the prophets. And, if they said. Of men, their reputation was gone, for all the people believed that John was a prophet.
Have you ever noticed how wise the Lord Jesus was?
Mark 11:31 And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him? (KJV)
And they reasoned with themselves saying . . . "within themselves" or “in their own minds", they privately conferred together, what answer they should give Him, after they argued the point among themselves.
They clearly saw that if they said that the baptism and ministry of John’s was divine, they must consent that Jesus was the TRUE Messiah, that John the Baptist bore witness to . . . and so, it was by a divine authority He did what He did; and that put an end to their question. (Mat.21:25).
Mark 11:32 But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed. (KJV)
But if we shall say, Of men . . . that John's baptism was a human invention, and he had no authority from God to preach and administer it,
They feared the people . . . lest being infuriated thereby they should, at once, rise up, and destroy them.
For all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed . . . a real prophet, one truly sent from God, and had his commission and credentials from Him. This was the general emotion of the people. (Mat.21:26).
Mark 11:33 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. (KJV)
And they answered and said unto Jesus, we cannot tell . . . they could, if they wanted to, but they did not care to tell. They knew if they did, they would expose themselves one way or another.
And Jesus answering, Saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things . . . a prophet (verse 32), is someone remarkably inspired and sent by God to reveal His will . . . so John’s baptism also had to be from Heaven.
These elders did not deserve to be taught; for it was plain that they resisted the Truth. So true of so many of the “elders” in the churches today.
Gospel of Mark
ch.1 . . ch.2 . . ch.3 . . ch.4 . . ch.5 . . ch.6 . . ch.7 . . ch.8 . . ch.9. . ch.10 . . ch.11 . . ch.12 . . ch.13 . . ch.14 . . ch.15 . . ch.16