The Announcement of the Servant Mark 11:1-19
Mark 11:1-11 By His Entrance into Jerusalem
(for a more detailed explanation see: January 31, Matthew 21:1-22)
Mark 11:1-11-It is Sunday. As they come near Jerusalem (Bethpage and Bethany…near the Mt. of Olives)…Jesus sends two disciples to go into the village and find a colt for Him to ride on. As He enters, the people called out to Him and threw palm branches in front of Him. They call out “Hosanna!”, which means “Save now!” This is the fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9…the hailing of the coming of the Messiah. Jesus rode into Jerusalem, looked around, then returned to Bethany…because it was already late in the day.
They shout Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! (v. 13). These are lines from one of the Psalms of Ascents (Ps 118:25-26) sung as a welcome to pilgrims coming up to Jerusalem. As such, this is an entirely appropriate thing to do as Jesus is coming up to Jerusalem. But there is more involved here. The cry of Hosanna! is a Hebrew word (hoshi`ah-na) that had become a greeting or shout of praise but that actually meant “Save!” or “Help!” (an intensive form of imperative). Not surprisingly, forms of this word were used to address the king with a need (cf. 2 Sam 14:4; 2 Kings 6:26). Furthermore, the palm branches the people carry are symbolic of a victorious ruler (cf. 1 Macc 13:51; 2 Macc 10:7; 14:4). Indeed, in an apocalyptic text from the Maccabean era, palms are mentioned in association with the coming of the messianic salvation on the Mount of Olives (Testament of Naphtali 5). The cry of Hosanna! and the palm branches are in themselves somewhat ambiguous, but their import is made clear as the crowd adds a further line, Blessed is the King of Israel! (v. 13). Clearly they see in Jesus the answer to their nationalistic, messianic hopes. Earlier a crowd had wanted to make Jesus king (6:15), and now this crowd is recognizing him as king in the city of the great King. Here is the great dream of a Davidic ruler who would come and liberate Israel, establishing peace and subduing the Gentiles (cf. Psalms of Solomon 17:21-25).
Jesus responds by finding a young donkey to sit on (v. 14), thereby making a mess of the picture they were creating. He should have found a horse to ride on or made use of some other symbol of power. Instead he paints from a different palette. His action undercuts their nationalism and points in a different direction, evoking an image from the Prophets: Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt (v. 15; from Zech 9:9). He is indeed king, but not the sort of king they have in mind.
John says the disciples did not make the connection with the passage from Zechariah at the time: At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him (v. 16). The word translated realize is emnesthesan, “remember,” the same word used to describe their recollection and insight into the cleansing of the temple (2:22). At the time they were caught up in the swirl of events and did not really understand what was going on. From what we know of them elsewhere, they probably shared the nationalistic hopes of the crowd (for example, Acts 1:6). The disciples and the crowd thought they were honoring Jesus, and they were. But they did not really understand the true meaning of what was happening nor even what they were saying. They did not put the events of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and the Scripture together, so they did not grasp what had taken place until after Jesus had been glorified. They needed to see the revelation at it greatest in the death and resurrection of Jesus and to have the help of the Spirit who was not available to them until after the glorification (7:39) before they understood the significance of these events (cf. 15:26; 16:13-14).
Mark 11:12-19 By His Cleansing of the Temple
Mark 11:12-14-It is Monday. Jesus sees a fig tree and looks to see if it has any fruit. When it doesn’t, He curses it (:14,21).
Mark 11:15-19-When they entered the Temple, Jesus cast out those who were operating businesses there and overturned the tables of the moneychangers (this is the second time that He cleansed the Temple…John 2:13-17). He quoted Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11…“…My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations? But you have made it a robber’s den.” His actions were causing a stir among the people since He appeared to be more concerned about what took place in the Temple than the religious leaders did. He was also upsetting the profitable businesses that took place around the Temple. The religious leaders heard about what He was doing and began to make plans to kill Him.
Prayer: Lord, save me from public opinion. The very ones who praised Jesus here on Sunday…were possibly among those who crucified Him on Friday. Don’t let me base my life, or my faithfulness, or my love for people, or my ministry for You…on the response of people.