Mark 11:1-14, 20-21

(A Bible Study Led by Dr. Larry Reynolds)

November 29, 2012

 

Mark 11:1-11

Verse 1 – “And as they approached Jerusalem…” – Jesus and His disciples had come to the end of a long journey... approximately nine (9) months before He and the disciples had left Galilee, travelled through down the Jordan River valley, into Perea, and finally into Judea... along the way He had ministered to and taught many people...He purposefully timed the journey so He would end up in Jerusalem for the Passover celebration...was late in the day on the Sunday before Passover that Jesus finally entered Jerusalem...look at what happened...(Mark 11:1-11)

 

Normally we focus on this passage during the Easter season as we celebrate what has come to be known as “Palm Sunday.”  In this study, I want to take a little different approach to this event and to focus on the part about Jesus sending two of His disciples to get the colt on which He road into Jerusalem...

 

That particular incident raises a number of questions in my mind?

·         How did Jesus know the colt would be there?  Had He made some type of prearrangements?  Had someone told Him it was there?  Or did He know through His supernatural powers?

·         Why was the owner of the colt, which was a valuable possession, willing to let the disciples take it?  Did he know them?  Was he, himself, a believer?  Did he understand the significance of the occasion?

Not sure this side of heaven we will ever know answers to those questions, but I am sure there is something very important for us to learn from this event. 

 

Every one of us has something in our lives of which the Lord has need and as disciples of Jesus Christ we are to place all that we are and all that we have in His hands

1.   As attempted look at this event in fresh way this week, became intrigued with a little phrase in v.3...when Jesus sent the two disciples to get the colt on which He was going to ride, He told them if anyone asked why they were taking it simply to say, "The Lord has need of it."...and then v.6 says they did that and the people watching the colt allowed them to take it...

2.   "The Lord has need of it"...why?...why did Jesus need that animal?...to answer that question, need to understand what kind of animal it was...word Mark uses for colt can mean any kind of young animal...but Matthew's account of this event makes it clear the animal was a donkey...are a number of reasons Jesus chose to enter Jerusalem riding on a donkey...

·         Over 500 years earlier the prophet Zechariah prophesied the Messiah would enter the city in that way...Zechariah 9:9 says, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!  Shout  daughter of Jerusalem!  See, your king is comes to you,  righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey."...Jesus needed the donkey to fulfill the prophecy about how the Messiah would enter Jerusalem...

·         The donkey was royal animal during the reign of David... wasn't until after David that the Hebrew kings switched to horses...through the prophet Ezekiel God had promised He would send a new David to rule over His people...Jesus needed the donkey to remind the people that He was of the royal line of David...He was the new David, the Messiah, promised by God long ago...

·         The donkey was a symbol of gentleness and peace...unlike warrior kings who would charge into a city on proud, powerful stallions with swords raised to kill, Jesus came slowly an purposefully on a donkey bringing peace...Jesus needed a donkey to remind the people He was the prince of peace promised long ago by the prophet Isaiah...

3.   Did the owner of the colt understand all that when he allowed his donkey to be used by Jesus?....I doubt it...but because he had something the Lord needed and because he placed it in the Lord's hands, this unnamed man played important part in greatest event in the history of the world...

 

1.   There's an important lesson in that for us...may think what we have or what we can do is not very significant...it's small...unimportant...just a donkey...what good can be done with that?...but truth is we will probably never know how God can use our faithfulness in seemingly small things in very significant ways...

2.   In 19th century a Boston Sunday School teacher led a shoe clerk to Christ...wouldn't recognize the teacher's name, but the shoe clerk was Dwight L. Moody...became evangelist and had major influence on young preacher named Frederick B. Meyer...Meyer began preaching on college campuses and man named J. Wilbur Chapman was converted to Christianity under his ministry...Chapman arranged for a former baseball player named Billy Sunday to come to Charlotte, NC for a revival...a group of Charlotte community leaders were so enthusiastic after that revival they planned another and brought Mordecai Hamm to town to preach...in that revival a young man named Billy Graham gave his life to Christ...[Lucado, And the Angels Were Silent, p.56]

3.   That Boston Sunday School teacher had no idea the chain of events his simple act of faithfulness would start...but because he was faithful and did what the Lord desired, millions of people have been blessed...

 

Mark 11:12-14, 20-21

 

This rather unusual event is a reminder of the consequences of not being faithful with the opportunities God entrusts to us.  The cursing of the fig tree, on the surface at least, appears to be out of character with the nature of Jesus.  Apart from the drowning of the pigs in Mark 5, this is the only instance in Scripture where we see Jesus using His miraculous power to destroy something in nature.  The question has been raised if had power to kill tree, why didn't use power to restore tree and make it productive?  The answer is that Jesus used this tree to teach His disciples in the first century and in all the centuries that will follow some very important lessons.  In that sense, made that fig tree the most productive that has ever lived. 

 

1.   To understand this event need some understanding of the fruit-bearing cycle of the common Palestinian fig tree...green figs would ordinarily appear on the tree in early spring...the green figs were followed by leaves...then, sometime in June the fruit would ripen and be ready for harvest...this event occurred during the Passover season in April...Mark points out in v.13 "it was not the season for figs" so Jesus could not have reasonably expected to find ripened fruit on the tree...but since the tree had leaves and since leaves on a healthy fig tree come after the green figs are produced, He did expect to find some unripened figs on the tree...but Mark tells us in v.13 "He found nothing but leaves"...that is, the tree gave the outward appearance of fruit, but there was none present...

2.   The fig tree was a standard symbol for the nation Israel...it is used that way numerous times in the OT in writings of Jeremiah, Hosea, Joel, and Micah...the lesson of the fig tree was directed first at Israel...a fig tree with leaves but no fruit perfect picture of what Jesus saw when He entered Jerusalem... people were everywhere...the city was crowded with pilgrims who had come to celebrate the Passover at the Temple...the Temple was beautiful and very busy...

3.   But that outward appearance was very deceptive...the size of the crowds, the beauty of the Temple, the elaborate well-planned, well executed religious ceremonies did not hide from God the fact that the people's hearts were not right...in the words of Isaiah they were people who "honored God with their lips but their hearts were far from God."...they said the right words, observed the right rituals, looked the part...but they were like a fig tree with leaves but no fruit....

4.   The next morning, when Jesus and the disciples were again entering Jerusalem, they were surprised to see the fig tree withered...Mark gives us an interesting detail about what they saw...said in v.20 "the fig tree was withered from the roots up"...points back to the prophecy of Hosea where the Scripture says in Hosea 9:16 - "Ephraim [Israel] is stricken, their root is dried up, they will bear no fruit."

5.   The withered fig tree is graphic picture, object lesson of God's judgment on people who profess one thing but do another...by taking such drastic action Jesus was saying this is the ultimate fate of all those who separate outward religious observance from inward commitment and faithfulness to God...

6.   Jesus directed his harshest words toward those who were religious hypocrites...see Matthew 23…May we never forget God looks beyond the externals to see if there is any fruit in our lives...and what is He looking for?...the Apostle Paul put it well..."...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control..." (Galatians 5:22-23)

 

And so this part of Mark 11 reminds us that as followers of Christ, we are constantly faced with two choices.  We can choose to place all that we are and all that we have in the Lord’s hands for His purposes.  When we do that, others are blessed and we are blessed.  Or we can choose the way of profession without practice, the way of the fig tree.  When we do that, others miss a blessing and, in a spiritual sense, we wither and die.

Comments