Christ’s Power Over Every Need
The Gospel of Mark Sermon Series
“Regal, Reverence, and Revenue”
Mark 11:1-11, 15-19
Sunday; A Day of Triumph (vv. 1- 11)
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” 4 And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. 5 And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. 7 And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. 8 And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. 9 And those who went before and those who followed were shouting,
“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”
11 And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.
Jesus is entering the last week of his life on earth, it is days from the crucifixion. As he is traveling to Jerusalem, he instructs the disciples to go back to a town they had passed coming in and ask to borrow a colt, “on which no one has ever sat.” This description is important because, “an animal set aside for a sacred purpose was not to be put to ordinary use.” Also, this colt had never been ridden, but the disciples lay garments across it, and Jesus rides it into the city – a miracle in itself.
Jesus has proclaimed that He is God, that He has been sent from the Father, and shown his pronouncements to be true by performing miracles. At this point he has raised the dead, calmed the storm, cast out demons, healed the sick (blind, blood issues, lepers, etc.) Here in Mark 11, he is once again, saying to those looking, and waiting for the Messiah, saying that the kingdom of God is at hand. “The manner He chose for His entrance was very fit for declaring His Messianic dignity to those who were able and inclined to understand and to conceal it from the others.”
Pilgrims coming to the temple and entering into Jerusalem “would customarily enter the city on foot, and (for) Jesus’” “To enter Jerusalem riding on a colt was expressly to declare himself the promised king of Israel. . . now he would declare himself in such a way that his claim could not be misunderstood, and would be either recognized or rejected as the Messiah.”
Jesus in His arrival as the Messiah, entering Jerusalem, was not what the people expected – He arrived humbly. This is why later that they will turn against Him, He was not what they wanted from the Messiah. They wanted might, power, and a conquering Messiah. He gave them a suffering, serving and humble Messiah.
But on this Sunday, the people were running to gather palm branches from the fields, placing them in the street, and they were crying out, quoting scripture, Zechariah 9:9 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Luke 19:35 tells us that it was the people who put Jesus on the colt, “And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it.”
(vv. 9-10) “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” – Hosanna literally means, “save us now.” The pilgrims traveling with Jesus were entering the city, and John tells us there were those that came out of the city to meet him – were excited that the Messiah had arrived and he would set up a kingdom like David.
The disciples nor the crowds understood fully what Jesus was doing, but they understood in some sense that Jesus was fulfilling a prophetic mission. They had just recently observed Jesus’ healing of blind Bartimaeus, and Lazarus being raised from the dead was very recent, and he lived very closely, so they are wanting to honor this prophet.
They are yelling out “Save us,” and Jesus is the Messiah who is establishing His kingdom, but it’s not the way they are anticipating, and He will save them but not in any way that they can imagine. This is the week leading up to the Jewish celebration of the Passover – and the lamb must die at Passover.
(v . 11) on this Sunday, Jesus and the disciples had traveled the [18-20] miles, from Jericho to Jerusalem, “we can see why it was late, why the pilgrims had dispersed, and why Jesus took no further action.”
Monday; A Day of Cleansing (vv. 15-19)
15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 And he was teaching them and saying 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 den of robbers.” 18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. 19 And when evening came they went out of the city.
To understand what is going on here it is helpful to understand the temple and how it was laid out. The temple area included the sanctuary – into which only the priests could go, the Court of Israel into which all male Israelites could go to offer sacrifice to God, the Court of the Gentiles – beyond which no Gentile could go unless he were to fully covert to Judaism. Jesus is driving people from the Gentile Court.
“For a long time markets had been set up on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, but there introduction into the temple area itself seems to have been as recently as 30AD, the probable year of the crucifixion.” This set up only lasted for a two or three week period during Passover. True worship and concern for the foreigner, became replaced with a desire for convenience.
At this point, it is Jesus’ cleansing the temple, that is a turning point in the story of the Passion. The consequence of this action is a unifying of the Jewish religious groups against Jesus, even plotting to kill him.
(v. 15) “he entered the temple and began to drive out” – Jesus is purifying the temple, he is driving out people who were doing three things:
1) money-changers – these were people who exchanged the foreign currency of religious pilgrims, so they could pay the temple tax and participate in the religious services. The moneychangers price gouged the people. The exchange rate was way too high.
2) those who sold pigeons, — the poor would purchase pigeons, because it was the lowest they could go to and still patriciate in the religious services at the temple – the poor couldn’t afford what was designed for them to be affordable.
3) Jesus stopped people from “carry anything through the temple.” – People were using this temple court as a short-cut “from the city to the Mount of Olives.” This holy place was being dishonored.
All of these things tell us that this part of the temple was thought less than the real inner court where the real true believers would worship. But the religious leaders, specifically Caiaphas, had turned the court into a shopping bazaar filled with little booths, sitting around on chairs at tables selling their goods, which would have made it really impossible for Gentiles to worship, and seriously pray in that place. This was the only place that Gentiles could go to worship.
While Jesus was cleansing the temple, He was also teaching, (v. 17) “And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?” Jesus is quoting Isaiah 56:7 “my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
When Solomon originally dedicated the temple many years before in 1 Kings 8:41-43 we see God’s intention of the temple to be a place for the world to come and worship “Likewise, when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a far country for your name’s sake 42 (for they shall hear of your great name and your mighty hand, and of your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this house, 43 hear in heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that this house that I have built is called by your name.”
It’s not the sales of doves, and animals, and the exchanging of currency that Jesus has a problem with, after all the pilgrims needed these things to participate in the worship. It was that those actions (while not of themselves bad) were allowed to corrupt the place that should be completely devoted to prayer and worship of God.
“But you have made it a den of robbers” – The consequences in the Jeremiah passage that Jesus is quoting here, is very significant. It is an indictment against the religious leaders who were allowing these things to happen, they may have even been profiting from it.
The fact that the Jewish leadership specifically allowed this to happen, and that they allowed it to happen in the Gentile Court, is showing how the Jewish leadership saw themselves as the only true and genuine followers of God, God’s chosen people – others are of little significance. The world worshipping God was not as important as them worshipping God. Jesus is redirecting their mission back to God being available for the nations, “uninhibited by Jewish restrictions.”
Typically, we think that Jesus when he says, “den of robbers” is focused on the money-exchangers robbing the pilgrims with an exorbitant exchange rate – but Jesus’ focus is on the religious leaders by allowing this court to be crowded with all these conveniences were robbing God of the worship and prayer from the Gentiles. Mark’s gospel was specifically written to the Greeks (Gentiles), he is pounding home that Jesus was the promised Messiah of the One true God – who calls all nations to a relationship with Him. We see this when Jesus is born, “
Also, thieves think they are safe in their den (den of thieves), just like the religious leaders thought they could do anything, treat people any way, engage a holy God in any manner – because they were in the temple. They would argue that they are good with God because they have the temple, and they are going through the motions of worship. Church, we must not fall for this same trap – as long as we are in church on Sunday, we can live like the world Monday through Saturday – we will be held accountable.
Jesus entering into Jerusalem and his cleansing the temple are both messianic acts. Many people don’t mind the Jesus who comes humbly riding into Jerusalem on a colt, but the Jesus who “drives out” and “overturned the tables,” are acts of force. “This picture of Jesus does not sit well with those who regard the Lord merely as the “gentle Jesus,” because they cannot understand the holy indignation that made Him act as He did here. Their Jesus is all love and no righteousness, but this is not the Jesus of the Bible!”
The Bible tells us that God is a jealous God (Ex. 34:14) – He commands that we are to have no other gods before Him, and He alone is worthy to be praised (Psalm 95:1-7), and as God, He chooses and instructs how He is to be worshipped. We don’t get to worship God any way we see fit; we worship God according to His Word.
This cleansing would have gone on for hours, but “the change must have been astounding; all the turmoil was gone, no one was even carrying things across the court; everything was quiet and decorous as it should be in God’s House.” He seems to remain there to enforce that it stayed this way. As the hours continued, He was teaching, cleaning, and putting things back the way they should be.
(v. 18) “And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching” – The people are looking at Jesus as a hero, as the Messiah. And while they didn’t fully understand how Jesus varied from their understanding of the Messiah, etc. Jesus’ popularity protected him for the time being. The Jewish leaders had to figure out a way to arrest Jesus without starting a riot.
The chief priests and scribes were seeking to destroy Jesus because he was taking away their glory. He shows again and again how their following and worshipping of God was false, corrupt, and empty. Jesus is fighting for the one who should be receiving the glory, while taking it away from the those that shouldn’t. Their fear was that Jesus’ teachings would take hold of the people’s hearts and they would see Jesus as the authority, and not them.
There is also something about this scene we need to understand; “Jesus did not want to reform the temple but to abolish it.” It would not be long after this that the church “soon came to be recognized as the new temple (cf. 1 Cor. 3:16-17).
 Zechariah 9:9 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (ESV)
 Other examples of where animals were used in religious contexts that were animals that had never been worked would be Num. 19:2; Duet. 21:3; 1 Sam. 6:7.
 James McGowan, Twenty-First Century Biblical Commentary Series, Mark (Chattanooga, Tennessee; AMG Publishing, 2006) 154.
 “This declaration invokes a custom known as angaria (Matt. 5:41; 27:32), in which a person of significance (most commonly an officer of the Roman government) could take possession of someone else’s property or require them to perform a task.” Darrell Bock, Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, The Gospel of Mark (Carol Streams, Illinois; Tyndale House Publishers, 2006) 497.
 Vincent Taylor, The Gospel According to St. Mark (New York, New York; St. Martin’s Press, 1959) 452.
 Larry W. Hurtado, New International Biblical Commentary, Mark (Peabody, Massachusetts; Hendrickson Publishers, 1989) 179.
 W.M. Clarke, An American Commentary on the New Testament, Volume 2 (Valley Forge, Pennsylvania; Judson Press, 1881) 161.
 James A. Brooks, The New American Commentary, Mark (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Publishing, 1991) 180.
 See Zechariah 14:21
 When Mary and Joseph presented Jesus to the temple, this was the temple tax they paid. Luke 2:25 (Clarke, 164).
 Hurtado, 182.
 Brooks, 184.
 Bock, 499.
 Taylor, 461.
 In John’s account he fashions a whip and drives them out, here there is no mention of an implement – just Jesus’ righteous disdain for what they are doing.
 The Tyrian shekel was required for the annual temple tax imposed on all Jewish males (Exodus 30:11-16) (Brooks, 185).
 Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Volume 1 (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Publishing, 1930) 359.
 Jesus is quoting Jeremiah 7:11 “Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes?”
 Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 8 (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan Publishing House, 1984) 728.
 McGowan, 158.
 R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Mark’s Gospel (Minneapolis, Minnesota; Augsburg Publishing House, 1964) 488.
 Brooks, 183.