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Lesson 8: A Parade, Housecleaning, And Lots Of Tests! (Mark 11:1-12:44)

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Day One Study

Ask the Lord Jesus to speak to you through His Word. Tell Him that you are listening.

Read Mark 11:1-11.

1. Discover the Facts: By comparing the four gospels, we can determine that Jesus got to Bethany on Friday and rested on Saturday (the Sabbath). Now it’s time for Him to present Himself to His people. Expectations are high!

  • What are Jesus’s instructions to two disciples (vv. 2-3)?
  • What did they find (vv. 4-6)?
  • What did the disciples do for Jesus (v. 7)?
  • What did the people do for Jesus (v. 8)?
  • What did they shout (vv. 9-10)? See also Psalm 118:25-26.
  • Jesus accepted their worship. Then, what did He do (v. 11)? See also Luke 19:41-44.

From the Greek: Hosanna (Greek) comes from hosiahna (Hebrew) meaning “O save us now,” a prayer addressed to God. Over time, it became a shout of praise like “Hallelujah.” Chanting “Hosanna” and “Hosanna in the highest” became part of the traditional Passover celebration. The Jews seeing Jesus on the donkey entering Jerusalem were filled with hope that Jesus was their promised Messiah.

2. What was Jesus deliberately doing now that He had been avoiding before this?

Read Mark 11:12-26.

3. Discover the Facts: This is another “sandwich” section—vv. 12-14 and vv. 20-26 are related. The clearing of the Temple comes in the middle.

  • What happened with the fig tree (vv. 12-14)?
  • In the Court of the Gentiles at the Temple, what four things did Jesus do (vv. 15-16)?
  • Of what did He remind those watching and listening (v. 17)?
  • How did the religious leaders take Jesus’s actions (v. 18)?
  • After spending the night outside of Jerusalem, what did they see the next morning (v. 20)?

Scriptural Insight: A marketplace atmosphere existed in the court of the Gentiles, the outermost courtyard within the temple enclosure (Gr. hieron, cf. v. 17). During Passover season, pilgrims could buy sacrificial animals and change their money on the Mount of Olives, so there was no need to set up facilities to do these things in the temple courtyard—which Caiaphas [the High Priest] had done. Jesus’s literal housecleaning represented His authority as Messiah to clean up the corrupt nation of Israel. Verse 16, unique in Mark, shows the extent to which Jesus went in purifying the temple. [They were using the Temple courts as a shortcut to the Roman highway outside of town.] (Dr. Constables Notes on Mark 2017 Edition, p. 168)

4. The fig tree became an object lesson. It represented Israel. Jesus’s request of fruit from it represented His presence and the last chance before Israel would be judged as fruitless. Jesus then used hyperbole (exaggeration) to illustrate some things about faith and prayer in vv. 22-25 that are impossible without God. What does He tell them?

Focus on the Meaning: We must beware of taking v. 24 out of context. Rather than explaining the symbolic significance of the cursing of the fig tree, Jesus proceeded to focus on the means by which the miracle happened. … The point was that dependent trust in God can accomplish humanly impossible things through prayer (cf. James 1:6). God is the source of the power to change. “Moving a mountain” is a universal symbol of doing something that appears to be impossible (cf. Zechariah 4:7). Jesus presupposed that overcoming the difficulty in view was God’s will. A true disciple of Jesus would hardly pray for anything else (Matthew 6:10). The person praying can therefore believe that what he requests will happen because it is God’s will. He will neither doubt God’s ability to do what he requests, since God can do anything, nor will he doubt that God will grant his petition, since it is God’s will. He will not have a divided heart about this matter. (Dr. Constables Notes on Mark 2017 Edition, p. 170)

What the merchants were doing at the Temple is similar to having Facebook ads on the screens in a church service today during communion and prayer time. It would distract people from worshiping God. Can churches offer books and tickets for sale in the lobby? Yes. God’s temple now is the gathered people not the building (see 1 Corinthians 3:16, directed to the community not individuals). The building is not God’s house; it’s just a building used by the people of God for gathering together. And, yes, we should be cognizant of first impressions when people visit our building.

5. Heartbreak to Hope: What in today’s lesson speaks to your heart?

Write a prayer to God in response to what He has shown you in this lesson.

Day Two Study

Ask the Lord Jesus to speak to you through His Word. Tell Him that you are listening.

Read Mark 11:27-33.

1. Discover the Facts: Now begins a series of tests for Jesus, trying to make Him do something that changes the popular opinion of Him. Here’s Test #1.

  • Where is Jesus?
  • Who comes to Him?
  • What is the question (v. 28)?
  • Jesus answers with a question of His own. What is it (vv. 29-30)?
  • How do the leaders respond (vv. 31-32)?
  • Then, what does Jesus say?

Think About It: The religious leaders issued the challenge but weren’t really interested in the answer. This is a case of intellectual dishonesty. Do you know anyone like that?

Read Mark 12:1-12.

2. Instead of answering their question, Jesus tells a parable that reveals their motives and lets them know the consequences of their actions before they even take them. This parable has recognizable parts to it. The listeners knew exactly what Jesus was saying.

  • Who owns the vineyard?
  • Where is the vineyard?
  • Who are the tenants?
  • What did they do to the son of the owner?
  • What then will the owner of the vineyard do?
  • What does Jesus declare in vv. 10-11?
  • How does what Jesus say in the parable connect with Mark 11:28?
  • What attitude / mindset of the religious leaders does Jesus bring out in v. 7?
  • How did the religious leaders respond (v. 12)?

Think About It: Hard hearts don’t change with kindness, challenges, warnings, or consequences. Hard hearts can only be changed from the inside by one’s decision to give up rebellion against God and submit to His authority. Jesus shot an arrow directly at their need to submit their authority to God and recognize Jesus as being sent from Him.

Write a prayer to God in response to what He has shown you in this lesson.

Day Three Study

Ask the Lord Jesus to speak to you through His Word. Tell Him that you are listening.

Read Mark 12:13-17.

1. Discover the Facts: Here comes Test #2. Actually, these are more like traps than tests.

  • Who comes to Jesus?
  • Why (v. 13)?
  • What do they admit about Him (v. 14)?
  • What is their test question?
  • What did Jesus know about them (v. 15)?
  • What question does He ask (v. 15)?
  • What does He tell them to do (v. 15)?
  • When they bring the coin, what question does He ask (v. 16)?
  • Then, how does He answer their test question (v. 17)?
  • What is their response?

Historical Insight: Since Judea had become a Roman province in A.D. 6, the Romans had required the Jews to pay a yearly “poll (head) tax” into the emperor’s treasury. The Zealots later refused to pay it, claiming that payment acknowledged Rome’s right to rule over them. The Pharisees paid it but objected strongly to it. The Herodians paid it willingly since they supported Roman rule. (Dr. Constables Notes on Mark 2017 Edition, pp. 176-177)

2. The “Caesar” part we can figure out. But, what do you think Jesus meant when He said, give “to God what is God’s?”

Read Mark 12:18-27.

Historical Insight: The “Sadducees” were mainly urban, wealthy, and educated Jews. Their numbers were comparatively few, but they occupied important positions including many in the priesthood. Their influence was greater than their size as a party within Judaism. This is the only place Mark mentioned them. They claimed to believe only what the Old Testament taught, and they did not follow the traditions of the elders that the Pharisees observed. They did not believe in the “resurrection,” because they said they could find no clear revelation about it in the Old Testament. (Dr. Constables Notes on Mark 2017 Edition, p. 178)

3. Discover the Facts: We are now at Test (Trap) #3.

  • What is the hypothetical situation presented by the Sadducees (vv. 19-22)?
  • What is their test question (v. 23)?
  • What is Jesus’s response to them (v. 24)?
  • What truth is presented in v. 25?
  • What proof does He present that there is life after death (vv. 26-27)?

Historical Insight: Resurrection in the ancient world was understood to be this: physical life after a time of life after death. The Greeks thought it a foolish idea since in their minds anything material (what you could see and touch like bodies) was evil. So, why would anyone want to have another body? However, God created the human body as something good. The cross (crucified Messiah) was a stumbling block to the Jews, and the resurrection was foolishness to the Gentiles. But, God’s plan represents the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24) to all those who believe.

4. Heartbreak to Hope: In His answer to the Sadducees (v. 24), Jesus pointed out their illiteracy of the Scriptures and their disregard for the power of God. This is a common occurrence today as well. Do you know people who are going through pain and heartache but refuse to look to the Word of God and the power of God for answers? Why do you think they resist the truth so much? How can you specifically pray for them?

Write a prayer to God in response to what He has shown you in this lesson.

Day Four Study

Ask the Lord Jesus to speak to you through His Word. Tell Him that you are listening.

Read Mark 12:28-34.

1. Discover the Facts: Here comes Test #4, But, this time it is from someone who seems to be sincerely asking the question.

  • Who comes to Jesus?
  • What does he hear?
  • What is his test question (v. 28)?
  • Jesus starts with the Jewish basic declaration about their God from Deuteronomy 6:4-5. Write Jesus’s answer from vv. 30-31 in the space below.
  • What is the lawyer’s response to this (vv. 32-33)?
  • What encouragement does Jesus give to the man (v. 34)?
  • From then on, what happened?

Focus on the Meaning: The lawyer showed he had faith. Most of the religious leaders had degenerated from a personal relationship with God to outward practice of religion without heart. God wants your heart—the seat of your affections.

2. Heartbreak to Hope: Loving your neighbor as yourself means going beyond the minimum standard of just being nice to someone. Jesus demonstrated going the extra step to love those around you. Example: when someone annoys you, the minimum would be not bad-mouthing that person. The heart of Jesus would lead you to find something kind to say to that person. Think of other examples from your life where you could go beyond the minimum to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

Read Mark 12:35-40.

3. Discover the Facts: Jesus issues the next test while He is teaching the crowds.

  • What is Jesus doing (v. 35)?
  • What is His question?
  • He quotes from what is called a Messianic psalm because it references the Messiah. Who wrote the psalm and who gave him the words to write (v. 36)?
  • Write Psalm 110:1 (quoted by Jesus in Mark 12:36) in the space below. This Old Testament verse is the most quoted verse in the New Testament (Matthew 22:43-45; Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44; Acts 2:33-36; Hebrews 1:13 plus other partial quotes).
  • How does the crowd respond?
  • What warning does He give next and why (vv. 38-40)?

4. What is the answer to Jesus’s question in v. 37? See also Romans 1:1-4 and Colossians 2:9.

5. In what ways are the teachers of the law opposite of Jesus’s description of servant leaders in Mark 10:43-45?

Read Mark 12:41-44.

6. Discover the Facts: Jesus was continually “people watching” and teaching His disciples about people. In this section, He presents a contrast to His disciples of someone representing the heart for God that the teachers of the law lacked.

  • Where are they?
  • What do they see in v. 41?
  • What do they see in v. 42?
  • What did Jesus see in her heart attitude that He wanted His disciples to grasp? (vv. 43-44)?

7. Heartbreak to Hope: What is your take-away from this lesson that you will apply to your own life?

Write a prayer to God in response to what He has shown you in this lesson.

Related Topics: Gospels, Women's Articles

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