God’s Word of Prayer
Mark 11:1-33: Jesus enters Jerusalem as the messiah-king, riding on a colt (see Zechariah 9:9). His entry marks the beginning of his final days in Jerusalem, as he knows he will face suffering and death. Many people greet him with shouts of praise. The next day Jesus enters the Temple in Jerusalem and drives out the dishonest money changers and commercial vendors. Using the example of a fig tree, Jesus offers a teaching about faith. The reading concludes with the religious leaders questioning Jesus’s authority.
The Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem
(Matthew 21.1-11; Luke 19.28-40; John 12.12-19)
1As they approached Jerusalem, near the towns of Bethphage and Bethany, they came to the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of his disciples on ahead 2with these instructions: “Go to the village there ahead of you. As soon as you get there, you will find a colt tied up that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3And if someone asks you why you are doing that, say that the Master needs it and will send it back at once.”
4So they went and found a colt out in the street, tied to the door of a house. As they were untying it, 5some of the bystanders asked them, “What are you doing, untying that colt?”
6They answered just as Jesus had told them, and the crowd let them go. 7They brought the colt to Jesus, threw their cloaks over the animal, and Jesus got on. 8Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches in the field and spread them on the road. 9 The people who were in front and those who followed behind began to shout, “Praise God! God bless him who comes in the name of the Lord! 10God bless the coming kingdom of King David, our father! Praise be to God!”
11Jesus entered Jerusalem, went into the Temple, and looked around at everything. But since it was already late in the day, he went out to Bethany with the twelve disciples.
Jesus Curses the Fig Tree
12The next day, as they were coming back from Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13He saw in the distance a fig tree covered with leaves, so he went to see if he could find any figs on it. But when he came to it, he found only leaves, because it was not the right time for figs. 14Jesus said to the fig tree, “No one shall ever eat figs from you again!”
And his disciples heard him.
Jesus Goes to the Temple
(Matthew 21.12-17; Luke 19.45-48; John 2.13-22)
15When they arrived in Jerusalem, Jesus went to the Temple and began to drive out all those who were buying and selling. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the stools of those who sold pigeons, 16and he would not let anyone carry anything through the Temple courtyards. 17 He then taught the people: “It is written in the Scriptures that God said, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for the people of all nations.’ But you have turned it into a hideout for thieves!”
18The chief priests and the teachers of the Law heard of this, so they began looking for some way to kill Jesus. They were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.
19When evening came, Jesus and his disciples left the city.
The Lesson from the Fig Tree
20Early next morning, as they walked along the road, they saw the fig tree. It was dead all the way down to its roots. 21Peter remembered what had happened and said to Jesus, “Look, Teacher, the fig tree you cursed has died!”
22Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 I assure you that whoever tells this hill to get up and throw itself in the sea and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24For this reason I tell you: When you pray and ask for something, believe that you have received it, and you will be given whatever you ask for. 25 And when you stand and pray, forgive anything you may have against anyone, so that your Father in heaven will forgive the wrongs you have done.”
The Question about Jesus’ Authority
(Matthew 21.23-27; Luke 20.1-8)
27They arrived once again in Jerusalem. As Jesus was walking in the Temple, the chief priests, the teachers of the Law, and the elders came to him 28and asked him, “What right do you have to do these things? Who gave you such right?”
29Jesus answered them, “I will ask you just one question, and if you give me an answer, I will tell you what right I have to do these things. 30Tell me, where did John’s right to baptize come from: was it from God or from human beings?”
31They started to argue among themselves: “What shall we say? If we answer, ‘From God,’ he will say, ‘Why, then, did you not believe John?’ 32But if we say, ‘From human beings …’” (They were afraid of the people, because everyone was convinced that John had been a prophet.) 33So their answer to Jesus was, “We don’t know.”
Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you, then, by what right I do these things.”
Today’s Key Verse: Mark 11:9b
“Praise God! God bless him who comes in the name of the Lord!”
The placing of cloaks and branches along the road indicates the way kings were honored in a procession (see 2 Kings 9:13). How did the crowd honor Jesus? How will you honor Jesus today? According to one interpretation, the fruitless fig tree is meant to serve as a comparison to the Temple which had become a dishonest commercial marketplace. How did the chief priests react to what Jesus did? Jesus refers to the Temple as a “house of prayer.” How would you define your house of worship?
I praise you, Lord Jesus! You are my King and my Savior. Reign in my heart forever. Amen.
Mark 12:1-17: Jesus continues teaching and responds to questions from the religious leaders.