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-LESSON 16: Mark 14: 27-72

by Dr. D ~

Lesson 16: Mark -Chapter 14: 27-72

 

First read Mark 14: 27-72 all the way through.

The ‘Supernatural’ Acts and Events in  Mark 14: 27-72:

Things you don’t see everyday:

Verses 28:

-Prophetic declaration

Verse 30:

– Prophecy of Peter’s denial

Verse 42:

– Prophetic Word of knowledge

Verse 43:

-Jesus knows that Judas and the temple guards are almost there.

 

Now read it again in detail along with the Notes and Commentary below:

Notes and Commentary:

 

I.   The Prophecy of Peter’s Denial –Verses 27-31

     Verses 27-28:  Along the way to Mount of Olives, Jesus tells his disciples that soon all of them would leave desert him and scatter. He is quoting Zechariah 13:7 here:

‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’

Then he tells them that they will meet again in Galilee after he is ‘raised up’ (Resurrection).

This kind of conversation had to be confusing to them. First of all, none of them were thinking about leaving, and the veiled reference to meeting again after he was ‘raised up’ would not have been meaningful to them in the context of that evening. All of the disciples deny here that they are going to let Jesus down, particularly Peter.

     Verses 29-31:  Peter had enough of the ‘betrayal’ talk at the supper; here he boldly states that even if all the others take off, he’s going to stick it out with Jesus. Boldness can be a virtue at times. However, the Gospel of Luke (22:24-30) tells us that just before this the twelve were arguing over who was the greatest among them again.  So Peter’s ‘boldness’ here probably came from pride. Peter was emphatic: "If I must die with you, I will not deny you."

Jesus tells Peter:

"Truly, I tell you, (When Jesus says ‘truly’, it is always as good as done) this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times."

As we shall see, it wasn’t long before this prophecy was fulfilled.

 

II.  Gethsemane –Verses 32-42

     Verses 32-34:  Jesus and his disciples reach the Mount of Olives and continue on to the garden or orchard of Gethsemane on the lower slopes of the Mount. This was one of Jesus’ favorite places to go, particularly for prayer and meditation.

Jesus left eight of the apostles at the entrance to ‘watch’ and took Peter, James, and John with him to stand and support him in prayer. As we shall see, the three were really quite tired and not very supportive in his time of need. Jesus knew what was ahead of him and the torture and death that he would soon be facing and was quite sorrowful and actually in agony over it.

We know Jesus as the Divine Son of God and sometimes we forget that he was also human. He got hungry, tired, and he felt physical pain. Also, rejection by others would have bothered him like anyone else. Soon he was facing the ultimate rejection by his own people, and incredible amounts of physical torture and pain. Like anyone else, he would have liked to avoid such treatment if possible.

     Verse 35:  It was usual for folk in those days to pray standing with hands raised. Notice that he is so distressed that he just falls down to the ground. The account in Luke (22:39-46) tells us that he prayed in such great agony that The Father sent an angel to support and strengthen him.

     Verse 36:  Notice that he addresses God as:

"Abba, Father"

‘Abba’ (Aramaic) was what little children called their dads in those days. It was equivalent to our ‘Daddy.’  Jesus asked his dad to change the plan if it was possible. After all, who would want to face the rejection that was ahead along with the extreme pain of Roman torture, crucifixion, and a slow death. If this seems to be a moment of weakness or vulnerability, it is proven not to be the case by what he says next:

"Yet not what I will, but what you will."

Jesus says this in spite of the certainty and knowledge that soon he would face torture and cruel death.

     Verses 37-41a:  Three times, Jesus came back to his disciples and found them sleeping. They were not exactly giving him the prayer support that he was hoping for. Notice in vs. 37-38 that he singles out Peter:

"Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

There are lots of times in my own personal prayer life when I can’t seem to stay awake and I am reminded of this verse:

"The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

How true, at least in my experience. Jesus not only singled out Peter because he was one of the key leaders, but also because he knew that Peter would soon be facing his own temptation.

     Verses 41b-42:  That was it, the time had come and Jesus knew that Judas would arrive any minute with the soldiers and betray him. Jesus knows what is coming, yet he goes straight ahead to face his capture, trial, torture and death. Praise God for his Son Jesus who came into the world to free us all and was willing to endure everything for our sake.

 

III.  The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus –Verses 43-52

     Verses 43-45:  Judas showed up that night with a whole gang of officials and Temple guards fully armed. He had probably observed Jesus slip away from crowds on numerous occasions and decided to leave nothing to chance. In the dim light flowing through the orchards on the Mount of Olives at night it was necessary for Judas to personally identify Jesus so that the right man could be seized and arrested.

Regardless, the actions of Judas were despicable and infamous. Judas identified Jesus using a kiss and called him ‘Rabbi’; the traditional greeting between a student/disciple and his Master implying endearment and respect in the very act of betrayal.

     Verses 46-49:  The men with Judas immediately seized Jesus. Then the scene got rather chaotic for a while. One of the disciples of Jesus actually drew a sword at that point and cut off a servants’ ear. Mark leaves it at that, but John identifies the swordsman as Peter and the servant as Malchus. Also, Luke tells us that Jesus healed the man’s ear.

Then Jesus spoke and protested the treatment he was receiving. Was he leading some kind of armed rebellion? The expected answer was no. He pointed out that they could have easily arrested him as he taught in the Temple every day that week. Of course, the chief priests opted for a secret arrest in order to avoid a possible riot.

     Verse 50:  Then all the disciples ran away and deserted Jesus leaving him to face his destiny alone. Just like Jesus said they would.

It is obvious that the officials were only concerned with arresting Jesus and brought only enough soldiers to make the arrest and control the situation. They really didn’t try to arrest and pursue the disciples also. So the disciples were able to run away and avoid arrest.

     Verses 51-52:  The reference to the ‘young man’ is found only in Mark and was probably John Mark himself, the author of the Gospel.

A linen garment was an indication of wealth in those days. He probably tagged along with Jesus and the disciples following their meal that evening. Then continued to follow the group that arrested Jesus until he was threatened also with arrest and lost his cloths in the process of getting away.

According to early Christian tradition, the family of John Mark was wealthy and provided the upper room for the last supper and later on Pentecost.

 

IV.  Jesus On Trial: Before The Sanhedrin –Verses 53-65

     Verse 53:  Following his arrest, Jesus was taken to the high priest and before a hastily called session of the Sanhedrin. The trial of Jesus can be divided into two parts- first the religious trial before the Sanhedrin, and second the legal/political trial before Pilate and Herod Antipas (However, the Gospel of Mark does not include the appearance of Jesus before Herod).

The second trial was necessary because the Sanhedrin and the Jewish religious authorities did not have the legal right to carry out capitol punishment. The Roman authorities (including Pilate and their puppet King Herod) retained that legal right and power solely for themselves.

     Verses 55-59:  Notice that the chief priest had already decided to have Jesus killed. The so-called trial was merely an opportunity to find the necessary pretense or excuse for carrying out their plans to eliminate Jesus. In their ‘religious’ trial, false testimony was entertained and condoned, even though there was little agreement among the so-called witnesses. All contrary to the Mosaic Law.

The Sanhedrin needed to find a reason within their religious laws to have Jesus condemned; but they also needed to be able to support and demonstrate that Jesus was guilty of a serious breech of Roman law (like treason) that would assure a sentence of death by the Roman authorities.

The Jewish authorities were faced with a dilemma. Seemingly no charge could be constructed or found that would satisfy both the religious and legal requirements for a sentence of death. So what if Jesus did say that he could tear down and rebuild the Temple in 3 days? What would that mean to the Romans? They would never kill someone for making crazy statements.

     Verses 60-64:  At this point, the Sanhedrin really had nothing to charge Jesus with, after all their efforts. Anyway, nothing that the Romans would be interested in. Then the high priest (Caiaphas-who remains unnamed in Mark) challenges Jesus to answer the charges. Jesus continues to remain silent. Finally, the high priest asks Jesus if he is the Messiah, ‘the Son of the Blessed (God)’. There were rumors that Jesus had made claims for himself that went beyond the title of Messiah- The Anointed One.

When Jesus answered: "I Am", he used the personal name of God and actually was claiming it as his own and he was claiming to be Divine. Further more, using the ‘Son of Man’ title, he was claiming to be the divine figure represented in Daniel 7 who was to receive everlasting dominion over all the earth. The reaction from the high priest and the Sanhedrin was immediate. They all understood what he was claiming. It was blasphemy for sure and worthy of death.

     Verse 65:  The groans and the shouts of the leaders were probably deafening at that point. Some left their seats and began to spit on Jesus and while others proceeded to hit him. The ‘respected’ council was nearly in a riot when the guards finally took him away.

I can never understand those scholars who teach that Jesus never claimed to be the divine Son of God. The reaction of the chief priests and scribes makes it very clear what they believed that Jesus was declaring here. They finally had the charges that they needed from his very own mouth:

1. The religious Charge: Blasphemy–claims to be equal with God.

2. The legal Charge (For the Romans): Treason-Claims to be the Messiah–The true King of the Judah and the whole world (Dan. 7).

The entire Sanhedrin agreed to condemn Jesus to death, at least all of those who were present at this trumped up session. Not exactly the high point in the history of this venerated council.

 

V.  Peter’s Denial of Jesus –Verses 54, 66-72

     Verse 54:  All of the disciples of Jesus scattered at his arrest except Peter. Verse 54 records that Peter followed the procession at a distance and even ventured into the courtyard of the high priest.

From that position, he was somewhat privy to the discussion of the Sanhedrin. Usually the council held their meetings near the Temple, but this hasty session was irregular in both time and place. Peter tried to blend in with the guards and servants as he warmed himself by the fire. One wonders what his plans were if any. Peter obviously hoped to make good on his boast that "Even though they all fall away, I will not."

     Verses 66-68:  While he was in the courtyard a servant girl recognized him declaring: "You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus." Notice how Peter responds. He was obviously not prepared to answer. What a weak retort: "I neither know or understand what you mean."

Then he moves toward the gateway as the rooster crows the first time. One wonders what happened to Peter’s usual boldness. Was he intimidated by all of the religious leaders at the so-called trial? Did he fear for his own life? Was he beginning to question whether Jesus was really the one? Maybe it was a combination of all of the above?

     Verses 69-70:  The servant girl saw Peter again by the gate and this time addressed those standing near by: "This man is one of them." Again Peter denied it.

The scripture indicates that some time passed and then those standing near by began to insist that Peter was surely one of those connected to Jesus: "Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean." This time Peter was really upset. He cursed and answered his accusers: "I do not know this man of whom you speak."

Immediately the rooster crowed a second time and Peter remembered what Jesus had said to him: "Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times." Peter had failed famously. Luke 22:61 tells us that Jesus turned and looked directly at him that very moment. As Peter thought about it he broke down and wept. He had failed the Lord and there was no way he could ever take it back.

Note: John Mark probably got this account from Peter himself. It should give us all hope considering that Peter was eventually restored by Jesus.

 

-Read: Mark 15 for the next lesson.

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-LESSON 15: Mark 14: 1-26

by Dr. D ~

Lesson 15: Mark -Chapter 14: 1-26

 

First read Mark 14: 1-26 all the way through.

The ‘Supernatural’ Acts and Events in Mark 14: 1-26

Things you don’t see everyday:

Verse 9:

– Prophecy of remembrance of anointing

Verses 13-15:

-Prophetic declaration

Verses 17:

– Prophetic word of knowledge

Verses 27-28:

-Prophetic declaration

 

Now read it again in detail along with the Notes and Commentary below:

Notes and Commentary:

I.  The Plot To Kill Jesus –Verses 1-2

The chief priests and scribes had enough of Jesus after several days with him teaching and disrupting business in the Temple. They now plot how and when to kill him.

According to Mark, it was two days before Passover. This was the busiest time of the year in Jerusalem and in the Temple. Over 100,000 visitors came to Jerusalem during this season. A good share of the yearly income for the Chief priests, from their Temple businesses, was made during the Passover. Now this Jesus was spoiling everything and challenging their authority in the process.

Notice that the priests and scribes are not in the least concerned whether God condones their plan to kill Jesus. They are only concerned about how the crowds visiting in Jerusalem might react.

This brings up a question. Did they really believe in God? If so, how could they have come to believe that Jesus was not from God? What about all the healings and miracles? Did they really believe that Jesus derived his power from Satan? What about those he raised from the dead? How was that even possible without God’s help?

Nevertheless, they are more concerned about the crowds and they seek a way to arrest Jesus secretly. Later, they find a willing accomplice in Judas Iscariot.

 

II.  The Anointing of Jesus –Verses 3-9

Jesus and his disciples had been staying in Bethany with Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. That night he was having dinner at the home of Simon the Leper, apparently known well enough by early Christians to be named. The ‘woman’ is identified in John 12:3 as Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus. Both the alabaster jar and the ‘nard’ perfume were extremely expensive. Mary and her brother and sister were wealthy folk, but this would have been quite costly even for them.

This event is substantially different than the anointing of Jesus by a ‘sinful’ woman recorded in Luke 7:36-50. On that occasion the contents of the jar was poured upon the feet of Jesus rather than his head and it was early in the Ministry of Jesus. It was also in the home of a man called Simon but a Pharisee rather than a leper and the message and lesson taught by Jesus on that occasion is entirely different. In Luke, the Pharisee judges Jesus for allowing the woman to anoint him. While here in Mark, the disciples are upset with the woman for wasting financial resources that might have helped the poor.

     Verses 4-5:  "There were some…they scolded her." In Matthew 26:8, they were identified as the disciples. Also, Judas Iscariot was singled out in John’s account (12:4-5). It should be noted that it was customary in those days to give gifts to the poor during Passover. A denarii was the usual daily wages for a laborer. If the perfume was worth 300 denarii, than it would be equal to a years wage, quite a substantial sum indeed.

     Verses 6-9:  Here, Jesus tells the disciples to leave her alone because the woman had done a beautiful thing and had anointed him for his burial beforehand. He prophesied that her actions will be remembered down through time, wherever the Gospel is preached, and so it has been. Sometimes the statement of Jesus here is quoted as an excuse for not helping the poor. However, his time on the earth was unique. He was the ‘one and Only Begotten’ Son of God, the Co-Creator in the flesh; living, breathing, and ministering in the midst of his creation.

 

III.  Judas Plots To Betray Jesus –Verses 10-11

The Chief priests were looking for a way to do away with Jesus without creating a riot. Notice that it is Judas who comes to them and they are glad. They finally have their opportunity. But why did Judas decide to betray Jesus? This a question that has plagued Bible students forever. Mark does not really provide the answer.

What was the motivation for Judas? Was it for the money? The priests did promise to give him money. Matthew 26:15 informs us that it was merely 30 pieces of silver, a pitiful sum considering. Luke 23:3 and John 13:2,27 indicate that Satan was inspiring the action. Yet we are informed by Jesus that none of it was outside the plan of God (Jn. 19:11) and Judas is to be condemned for his action.

Some writers have speculated that Judas was trying to force Jesus to finally become the conquering Messiah that everyone expected. However, any motives that we may want to ascribe to Judas are mere speculation since none of the gospels clearly resolve this issue and give us a definitive reason for the betrayal of Judas.

It is particularly shocking that the one who betrayed Jesus was also one of his twelve closest associates. Judas was not only one of the leaders among the disciples of Jesus, he was actually the treasurer of the movement.

It should also be noted that he was from the southern region of Judea rather than from Galilee like the rest of the twelve. The implication is that he might have been better educated than the rest of the Twelve and might have come from a wealthier family. He might have even grown up with a cosmopolitan distain for those uneducated, uncultured, and unwashed folk from Galilee. Fact is, he probably had more in common with the Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem. All speculation, but strong possibilities considering where he came from.

Regardless, Judas was a leader among the disciples and he witnessed all of the miracles and participated in the healings with the rest of them. Nevertheless, as a Judean he probably never felt like he was really ‘one of the guys’ and at times he may have felt like an outsider. I believe that Satan may have used his insecurities as a gateway to gain influence over Judas.

 

IV.  The Provision of The Upper Room –Verses 12-16

     Verses 12-13:  When the disciples ask Jesus about preparations for the Passover meal, Jesus prophetically sends two of his disciples to find the provider of the room they need. This story is similar to Mark 11 when Jesus gave detailed prophetic direction to two of his disciples on how to borrow the donkey needed for the triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

     Verses 14-16:  Notice the phrase: ‘The Teacher says.’ Jesus must have been well  known to the owner. Finally, notice also that everything was just as Jesus prophetically said it would be.

Many Bible scholars believe that this ‘upper room’ became a gathering place for the disciples after the resurrection, and was the same place they were gathered in on ‘Day of Pentecost’ in Acts. It might have also been the place where they were praying for Peter in Acts 12. Also, Acts 12:12 indicates that it could have been the boyhood home of John Mark (the writer of this gospel) and his mother Mary.

 

V.  ‘The Prophecy of Betrayal’ at The Last Supper –Verses 17-21

     Verses 17-19:  The Passover meal was in progress when Jesus proclaimed that one of his closest twelve, who were right there eating with him, would actually end up betraying him. Each one reacted to the question, whether they might be the one ("is it I?"), only Judas and Jesus really knew the truth. The rest of the disciples must have been thinking that the betrayal would be in the distant future, since none of them were involved in a plot at the time. All were saddened by the prospect.

     Verse 20:  The custom of eating Passover together was reserved for ones family or closest friends. The symbol of ‘dipping bread’ in a common bowl was a demonstration of the closest possible friendship and allegiance. That one of them (the closest of friends and companions) would actually betray Jesus was unthinkable in their culture, and a despicable act of the highest order. They would have questioned the possibility-surely it can’t be one of us. Jesus drives the horror home when he says:

"It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me."

     Verse 21a:  Jesus continues with the phrase in verse 21 :

"For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, "

Jesus is probably referring to Isaiah 53, the ‘suffering servant’ passage:

"He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth."

     Verse 21b:  "But woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would be better for that man if he had not been born."

One wonders what Judas was thinking when he heard this proclamation of Jesus. According to Jesus, Judas is culpable for his act of betrayal. The sacrifice of Jesus is the fulfillment of the plan of salvation, designed and ordained by The Father. The betrayal and death of Jesus was truly inspired by the devil. Yet, Judas remains responsible for his own actions.

Many have speculated and many have wondered, if it was possible for Judas to repent and be restored again like Peter was. Yet the query is left moot, since Judas did not repent but killed himself. Therefore, the full condemnation was deservedly his.

 

VI.  The Lord’s Supper –Verses 22-26

     Verse 22:  The guys were still eating and probably talking and enjoying themselves. Then Jesus took some bread, gave thanks, and broke it, giving some to each one of them. He said:

"Take; this is my body."

The whole tone of the supper changed in a moment. I’m sure that all of a sudden you could have heard a pin drop.

The last time Jesus talked like this (John 6:51-58), many of his disciples turned their backs on him and left. The Twelve stayed with it, but I am sure the idea of eating the body and drinking the blood of Jesus was unsettling and confusing for sure. But I’m also sure they sensed that something new and important was happening that night.

Lot’s of times in the last several years, the disciples would just listen to Jesus without daring to ask for a clear explanation. It would still be a while before the Twelve would truly understand the events of that evening and before the sacrifice of Jesus would become obvious and central to the faith.

     Verses 23-24:  Next, Jesus took a cup and gave thanks over it and served it to them, saying:

"This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many."

Though the twelve may not have totally understood what Jesus was saying and doing here, the symbols of blood and sacrifice could not have been missed or more poignant during the Passover. The Passover was a celebration of the ‘older’ covenant between God and Israel. Here Jesus is instituting a ‘new’ covenant based upon his own sacrifice which would fulfilled when he was crucified.

     Verse 25:  The whole tone of the meal changed with this first ‘communion’. The disciples had grown up eating and celebrating the Passover, but this was different. Jesus continues:

"Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."

The twelve probably wondered what this statement really meant. But soon events would overtake them all, and this would prove to be the last time Jesus would sit down and eat with all of them in this life. The next meal will be the Messianic banquet -the wedding supper of the Lamb (Rev.19:9).

     Verse 26:  Notice that they culminate the meal with a hymn. It was a Passover tradition to sing the Hallel Psalms (Ps 115-118), usually singing the second half at the end of the meal. Afterwards, Jesus and his disciples leave and go to the Mount of Olives.

 

-Read: Mark 14: 27-72  for the next lesson.

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-LESSON 14: Mark 13

by Dr. D ~

Lesson 14: Mark -Chapter 13

 

First read Mark 13 all the way through.

The ‘Supernatural’ Acts and Events in Mark 13

Things you don’t see everyday:

 Verse 2:

– Prophecy of the destruction of the temple.

Verses 5-6

-Prophecy of coming false teachers.

Verses 7-8:

-Prophecy of signs of last days.

Verse 11:

-Prophecy of help from the Holy Spirit.

Verses 12-13a:

-Prediction- followers of Jesus would be persecuted.

Verses 14:  

-Prophecy of the ‘abomination of desolation’ of the temple.

Verse 22:

-Prophecy of false christs and false prophets performing signs and wonders

 

Now read it again in detail along with  the Notes and Commentary below:

Notes and Commentary:

Mark 13: The Olivet Discourse -‘The Little Apocalypse’

 

I.  The Prophecy of The Destruction of The Temple –Verses 1-3

The disciples here are impressed with the huge and magnificent Temple that Herod built.  It was one of the architectural wonders of the ancient Roman world.  Jesus takes them by total surprise by proclaiming and prophesying the total destruction of the Temple. 

The followers of Jesus are still expecting Jesus to conquer the Romans and set up the ‘Messianic’ kingdom.  After all, a couple of days ago he came into Jerusalem as the ‘Son of David’ riding on the back of a donkey with the shouts and adoration of the people.  Now he is proclaiming that the Temple was going to be utterly destroyed!  This had to be completely confusing to the disciples. 

Also, the last couple of days he taught in the Temple, challenged the Temple leaders and teachers, and cleaned out the Temple.  It probably looked like he was intending to take over the place to his followers. Now he was prophesying its destruction?  Peter, James, John, and Andrew go privately to Jesus to find out what the deal is.

Note:  In 70 AD, Jerusalem was attacked by the Roman army under Titus, and the Temple was utterly destroyed.  The Soldiers took it apart one stone at a time in order to recover the ornamental gold which had melted into the cracks and crevices when the Temple was burned.  The prophecy was completely fulfilled.

 

II.  The Ultimate Question –Verse 4 

Peter, James, John, and Andrew were elected to ask Jesus the question on everyone’s mind.  When is the Temple going to be destroyed, but the real underlying question which Jesus knew was on their minds but they do not officially ask-  when are we all going to take over, and when is the "Messianic" kingdom going to be established after all? 

Jesus answers these two questions in the rest of the chapter.  Some have referred to these passages as the ‘Little Apocalypse’.  However, some of the references pertain to the generation of the disciples up to the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD, while other references are for the very ‘end-times’ leading up to the Second Coming of Christ and the ushering in of the ‘Messianic’ Kingdom of God which the disciples were looking for. 

The disciples did not envision a large parenthesis of time between these major events.  For us, it provides some difficulty and some differences of opinion among Bible scholars in interpreting where to place all the events noted by Jesus.  I believe that much of what Jesus talks about is relevant for both events and for both time periods.

 

III.  Signs of The End -The Beginning of ‘Birth Pangs’ –Verses 5-8

     Verse 5-6: Jesus tells them not to be deceived. Before the end, there are going to be false teachers who come claiming: ‘I am he’ (The Messiah), deceiving many.

     Verses 7-8: Signs of the ‘end times’ to look for: Wars, earthquakes, famines-  the beginning of birth pains.

Many critics of the Bible have asserted that wars, earthquakes, and famines have happened in every generation of human history.  This may be true, however, the prophecy of Jesus here is to look for a time which is more clearly defined by extraordinary catastrophic events.  Also at the same time, look for false leaders who are proclaiming that they are the expected ‘Messiah’ or the next or final embodiment of ‘Christ’.

Leading up to 70 AD, there were a number of leaders in Judea that rose up against the Roman Empire.  Some believed that it was a good time to rebel against Rome because of succession battles that were on-going (there were four different Roman emperors in 69 AD) and there were rebellions and wars in far away places occupying the Roman armies.

There had also been a number of major earthquakes at the time, and famines were numerous, many caused by the disruptions of war. However, all of these difficulties were quickly resolved and soon the army of Titus was marching on Jewish cities and particularly Jerusalem.

One could say that our own times are marked with wars, famines in some places, and extreme problems and disasters brought on by weather.  However, there are other signs to be aware of also.  Jesus refers to these signs as the ‘beginning of birth pangs’.  This analogy indicates that in the end-times, these type of events will proceed to get increasingly more numerous and more severe.

 

IV.  Witnessing In The Church Age –Verses 9-13

The counsel of Jesus to his disciples here in verses 9-13 is particularly pertinent for the early Christians and continues to be relevant even today, especially for missionaries.

     Verse 9:  Local ‘councils and Synagogues’ represent the Jewish ruling authorities in towns and synagogues; while ‘governors and Kings’ represent the Gentile rulers. 

The disciples were expecting to ‘rule’ in the Messianic Kingdom.  Jesus is trying to prepare them for reality and the hard times they will soon be facing.  One cannot imagine the turmoil that they were going through listening to what Jesus was telling them.  After all, they had been constantly arguing among themselves who was going number 2 in the Messianic Kingdom. 

Now Jesus was informing them that they were going to be subject, not only to arrest by Jewish authorities, but also Gentile rulers.  What a come down this was.  Most likely they didn’t accept any of this until after the death and resurrection of the Lord.

     Verse 10And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. (ESV)

This had to be very disappointing for the disciples to hear.  They pretty much expected to rule over the whole World first and then teach all the people from a position of power.  However, Jesus is saying that it is going to be the other way around.  They are going to be subject to the interference of Jewish and Gentile authorities, and the ‘Messianic’ Kingdom that they expect to help rule isn’t going to happen until the ‘good news’ of Jesus is preached and proclaimed to every nation. 

The language of this statement includes all the Gentile nations!  Even after the Resurrection and Pentecost, they were bringing the Gospel to only the Jews.  Later the Apostles would take the Gospel to the Gentiles, particularly Paul and Peter. 

However, the World was a lot bigger place than they really knew.  In the first generation, the disciples and their followers took Christianity to all of the Roman Empire and nearly all of the known World. 

‘Doubting’ Thomas walked all the way to India and started a church that was still there when the Portuguese showed up over 1300 years later.  As incredible as their ministry was in the first century; Asia, Southern Africa, and the Americas were probably still untouched as the second generation began their ministry. 

Today, the Gospel of the Kingdom is still in the process of being expanded and preached to every nation.  There are still a few groups of people that have not been reached yet.

     Verse 11:  This is good counsel for their time and for the entire church age down to our own generation.  If Christians are persecuted and brought into court for spreading the Gospel, then they can expect the Holy Spirit to help them.  Like Peter and John astonished the learned men in the Sanhedrin with their answers (Acts 4:1-21).

     Verses 12-13a:   And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. (ESV)

This warning is specifically for the disciples in the first century,  but it has also been proven valid for the followers of Jesus down to our time.  Even close relatives and friends may betray those who serve the Lord Jesus. In this generation it is demonstrated in Muslim countries when one converts to Christianity.

     Verse 13bBut the one who endures to the end will be saved. (ESV)  

Regardless of the persecution, Followers of Jesus are called to endure and keep on keeping on until the end of the age. Rev. 2:10 tells us:

Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.  (ESV)

Rom. 14:4:

And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. (ESV)

This is called the doctrine of  ‘the perseverance of the saints.’  Those who are true followers of Jesus shall endure to the end.  Those who really don’t have saving faith will quit when the going gets rough. See  I John 2:19:

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. (ESV)

V.  The Abomination of Desolation –Verses 14-20

The ‘Abomination of Desolation’ reflects the imagery used by Daniel 9:25-27.  One fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy took place nearly two hundred years before when the Greek army under Antiochus Epiphanes brought a statue into the Holy Place and sacrificed a pig. 

Jesus is prophesying that something similar is going to happen again.  In 70 AD, Roman soldiers did bring in their pagan banners and profaned the Temple once more, before they burned and utterly destroyed it. 

Most Bible scholars expect that an end-time Temple will be rebuilt in the last days and will be desecrated once more by the Antichrist. It is in that final application of this passage that the phrase- “And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved” would most appropriately apply. The Roman attack on Judea and the Destruction of Jerusalem would threaten the survival of the Jewish people but not all of humanity.

The first century Christians living in Jerusalem took this prophesy serious. When they saw the Roman armies circling the city, they immediately left Jerusalem and escaped to Pella, in the Trans-Jordan area.

Verse 20:  ‘The elect’ here are the people of God.  The early church believed that they were spared when the Roman armies had to cut short their expedition in Judea and did not expand their campaign into the Trans-Jordan area where they had escaped.  Many Bible scholars teach that in the last days, Jesus will come again in the nick of time to insure that followers of Jesus and the Jewish people in the end-times will not be completely destroyed by the Antichrist.

VI.  False Christs and False Prophets  -Verses 21-23

This continues the teaching of verse 6.  Many pseudo-Messiahs did break upon the scene before 70 AD. leading to the rebellion against Rome.  For the early Christians, early heretics such as some of the Gnostic leaders seem to fit this scripture. 

Many Bible scholars believe that there will be numerous examples of such in the final moments of history.  The Book of Revelation for example warns us to look out for the Antichrist and his False Prophet.  However, it also tells us about Two Prophets of God who witness in the ‘last days’. 

I have read or heard the theory that since Satan does not really know the future, he has a potential ‘antichrist’ prepared and ready to go in every generation.  Only the hand of God holds back some of these evil leaders.  Hitler, is an example of one evil man who tried to fulfill the role of the Antichrist. 

What about prophets or ministers today, are all who perform signs and miracles by definition ‘false’?  Some Christian pastors teach that the ‘gifts’ of the Spirit and the ministry of prophets ended in the first century when the Bible was complete. If so, then this scripture is meaningless for Christians today.  If all prophets today are false then how can faithful Christians be deceived?

However, if God has genuine prophets and leaders performing healings and signs and wonders today, then this warning also continues to have meaning for us to

day and in the future. 

I believe that the people of God today (‘The Elect’) will need to continue to discern the ‘real’ from the ‘false’.  Look at the ‘fruit’; does the ministry bring people to Christ and closer to God the Father and his Holy Spirit, or does it lead away from God and any of his genuine teachings in the Bible.  This is the real Scriptural test.

 

VII.  Extreme Natural Disasters –Verses 24-25

“…the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven…”:

Jesus foretells here that many extreme natural disasters will precede his Second Coming.  These verses are similar to the ‘Day of the Lord’ portrayed in the Old Testament prophets. See: Joel 2:10, 30-31, 3:15;  Isaiah 13:10, 34:4;  Amos 8:9; and Ezekiel 32:7-8 for examples.  See also Rev. 16:1-21 which gives a possible detailed picture of these events.

 

VIII.  Son of Man Coming In The Clouds –Verses 26-27

The Second Coming of our Lord will not be in secret.  Everyone will miraculously see him coming in the clouds "with great power and glory." 

He is not coming as a baby again, he is not going to be the ‘Christ Spirit reincarnated’, he will not be the Islamic 12th imam or the Mahdi.  He will be the Jewish Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God coming back in power with all of ‘His people’ to establish his Kingdom. 

All the believers (the elect) that are alive at his coming will be gathered by the Angels from every direction of the globe to meet him in the air.   Also, the Jewish folk will be gathered back in their land waiting and hoping for the coming of their Messiah.

 

IX.  Parable of The Fig Tree –Verses 28-30

The fig tree is a symbol of the nation of Israel.  The Jewish folk in the first century were expecting the coming of the Messiah and rebelled against Roman authority wanting to set up their own country.  The Jewish Christians in the land were hoping for the same thing, only they were looking for Jesus to come back as Messiah. 

However, since Jesus had predicted the utter destruction of the Temple in that generation, one could have anticipated that when the fig tree (Judea) tried to extend its authority, destruction would be soon coming.  The Jewish Christians bailed out as the Romans began to prepare for their attack.  The destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem was completed within the lifespan of the disciples, in that first generation.

Many Bible scholars believe that the parable of the fig tree is also valid for interpreting the events for those who live during the ‘end-time’ generation.  In this case, the fig tree represents the re-establishment of the Jewish nation once more- like modern Israel.  In that case, ‘the generation’ that witnesses the extension of Jewish national authority in the land once more will witness the completion of all the ‘end-time’ events prophesied by Jesus in Mark 13 and elsewhere. 

Therefore, many Bible teachers today believe that the parable of the fig tree is valid for both events- that the parable represents both the first Christian generation that witnessed the destruction of the Temple and for the final generation who see the Lord coming again.

 

X.  But My Words Will Not Pass Away –Verse 31

Jesus wants his disciples to understand that he is not talking about possibilities here.  These events are really going to happen.  I am sure that the disciples were hoping that maybe their homes and country could somehow escape destruction; that maybe the Jewish folk in that generation could all be converted and that Jerusalem and the Temple would be spared. 

Jesus underlines it all for his followers–those in the first generation on through to the last.  The Temple is going to be destroyed, all the catastrophic events of the ‘end-times’ are going to happen, and everything he ever said was going to be fulfilled.

 

XI.  But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows…only the Father –Verse 32

I have heard al sorts of theories about why Jesus may not have known exactly when he was coming back.  Many contend that in his ‘bodily’ form that his knowledge was limited, and some contend that since he has been ‘glorified’ that he surely would now know the ‘day or hour’.  This of coarse is speculation which has little or no scriptural basis. 

Nevertheless, he did not inform his disciples then, and I doubt that he will provide the exact date to any minister or prophet in the future.  Beware of those who claim to know the time of his coming and set dates.  They will always be wrong for sure!  But Jesus does give us lots of clues to watch for in anticipation of his coming.

 

XII.  Be On Guard, Be Alert, And Be Prepared! –Verse 33-37

Rather than telling his disciples or us when these events will take place, Jesus emphasizes here that we all should be watching and we should all be prepared to respond to the ‘signs of the times.’  Particularly the ‘doorkeeper’ who as a servant should be prepared for the Masters return.  This analogy fits the profile of the minister of the Lord Jesus Christ rather well.  It was the responsibility of the ‘doorkeeper’ to wake up or warn all the rest of the servants when he saw his Lord approaching. 

The final counsel here from Jesus is for all of us:

What I say to you (the disciples), I say to everyone: ‘Watch’.

 

-Read: Mark 14 for the next lesson.

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-LESSON 13: Mark 12

by Dr. D ~

Lesson 13: Mark -Chapter 12

 

First read Mark 12 all the way through.

The ‘Supernatural’ Acts and Events in Mark 12

Things you don’t see everyday:

Verses 6-12:

-Parable of the tenant foretells the death of Jesus.

Verse 15:

– Jesus prophetically knew that they were trying to trap him.

Verses 15-17:

-The Roman coin and Caesar answer is truly inspired.

Verse 25:

-Prophetic info.: The risen dead will not marry.

Verse 40:

-Jesus predicts that the teachers opposing him will be punished.

Verse 44:

-Prophetic/word of knowledge-widow gave all she had.

 

Now read it again in detail along with  the Notes and Commentary below:

Notes and Commentary:

Jesus Teaching in The Temple –Chapter 12

Jesus began teaching in the Temple in the form of parables.  Notice that after a while, the authorities began to perceive that Jesus was talking against them, particularly in the Parable of the Tenants.

 

I.  The Parable of The Tenants –Verses 1-12

The Vineyard in this parable represents Israel. 

     Verses 2-5:  The servants that the master sent represents the prophets. Many were mistreated over the years by the authorities in Israel and even killed. 

     Verses 6-9:  The tenants kill the Master’s Son figuring that they will gain the vineyard in the process.  The Master in the parable kills unfaithful tenants and gives the vineyard to others. Jesus is really the master’s son in this parable.

In 70 AD the temple and Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans and the leaders at that time were killed fulfilling this parable.  

     Verses 10-11:  Jesus also represents the rejected stone of Psalm 118:22.  The time is coming when he is going to put a cap on history and an end to the present age.

     Verses 12:  The chief priests confirm what Jesus is alluding to in the parable. They are looking for some way to arrest him but are afraid of the crowds that are following him. Later they would not only have him arrested but killed.

 

II.  Give To Caesar and To God –Verses 13-17

Again the Pharisees, along with some Herodians, try to trap Jesus.  They start out pretending to pay Jesus a complement, however Jesus perceives their hypocrisy. 

     Verses 14b-15:  They are presenting Jesus with a clever ‘no win’ scenario.  If Jesus says to go ahead and pay Roman taxes, then many of his supporters, especially Zealots, would probably abandon him, so these ‘smart guys’ reason.  On the other hand, if Jesus tells them not to pay the taxes, then they can charge him with treason before the Roman authorities.  Actually, quite a brilliant plan. 

     Verses 15b-17:  However, Jesus sees the trap and resolved the question in such a way that even the ‘smart guys’ were amazed.  Notice that he ends with: "and to God what is God’s"-after all, God is really the ultimate authority. on that they can all agree.

 

III.  Marriage and The Resurrection –Verses 18-27

     Verses 18-23:  Next, a bunch of Sadducees, who didn’t believe in the Resurrection, try to demonstrate the crazy problems one might experience in the Resurrection if one had been remarried a number of times. After seven marriages, who would one be married to in the after life? 

This was probably one of the favorite unsolvable questions that they usually presented to their ‘smart’ Pharisee adversaries (who believed in the resurrection).  No one had ever been able to solve this problem before so the Sadducees were confident that they had Jesus where they wanted him.

     Verse 24:  But Jesus spoke with unusual authority and proclaimed that there would  be no marriage in the life to come. 

     Verses 25-27:  Then he deals brilliantly with the real question and demonstrates the truth of the resurrection and the after life, by quoting from the Pentateuch (first five books), the only scriptures that the Sadducees fully recognized. 

Jesus, quoted from Exodus 3:1-6,  citing God himself as proof for the continuing existence of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in an after life.  The Sadducees had to be surprised and totally defeated by his answer.

 

IV.  The Greatest Commandments –Verses 28-34

The final question of the day posed to Jesus comes from one of the scribes or teachers.  This seems to be a genuine query rather than a trap. 

     Verse 29-31:  This teaching of Jesus is just as valid for Christians today.  We are called to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  Secondly, we are called to love others as ourselves. 

     Verse 32-34:  Notice that this teacher agrees with Jesus and states that these two commandments were more important than "all burnt offerings and sacrifices."  Jesus commends this teacher:  "You are not far from the Kingdom of God."  Later, hundreds of scribes, teachers, and Pharisees joined the early Christian church.  Perhaps this teacher was one of them. 

I love the last line of verse 34: 

"And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions." 

Obviously, Jesus had demonstrated his superiority that day over the smartest and the best educated men in Judea.

 

V.  The Messiah is Son of David and More? –Verses 35-37

Now it is Jesus’ turn to ask a question and there were no takers. But the regular folks are hanging on his every word.

Jesus points out that according to the scriptures, the Christ (the Messiah or the ‘anointed one’) was supposed to be a descendant (a son) of King David, and yet in Psalm 110:1, David refers to his descendant as ‘Lord’:

David himself calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?”

Jesus does not answer his own question here, but leaves it hanging. In reality, only Jesus could fulfill this scripture as a descendant of David but also the Son of God. But none of the authorities recognized who Jesus really was or even wanted to know.

The answer:  If the Messiah was merely David’s descendant (son), than David would naturally hold the primary position of authority.  However, Jesus was not only the Messiah and a descendant of David, but he was also the Son of God.  Therefore, David recognized his own descendant as his Lord and his superior.

    

VI.  Who Has Real Authority -the Teachers or Jesus? – Verses 38-40

Now Jesus teaches in the temple to a large crowd, and they listened to him with wonder and delight.  All the ‘smart guys’ were gone, they had enough, but the regular folk received it all with pleasure.

     Verse 38:  Jesus than warns the people that the teachers of the law they respect and who are suppose to represent God and his teaching are really hypocrites that will be judged severely by God.

Jesus points out that those teachers of the Law, who demand respect and positions of authority, who seek honor and commendation, but actually rob widows are not following God’s Word at all.

 

VII.  The Poor Widow’s Offering vs. The Rich –Verses 41-44

Jesus and his disciples watched as people filed in to give money to the temple treasury.  A whole lot of rich folks came in with all sort of ‘pomp and circumstance’ and gave huge amounts of money to the temple.  I am sure that the disciples were appropriately impressed.

     Verses 42-44:  Among the crowd was a poor humble widow who dropped in two small copper coins.  She contribution would have probably gone unnoticed except for maybe a sneer by the priest overseeing the collection.  The disciples may have missed it or may have dismissed it along with the temple priest. But they would have been shocked when Jesus said:

“Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.

It was a popular teaching in Israel at the time, and especially among the priests and temple teachers, that the poor were sinners that deserved their poverty while the rich were righteous folks blessed by God. It was a false doctrine but the temple priests would have looked down on the poor widow assuming that she was a ‘sinner.’

But Jesus knew something that they did not know.  The widow gave all she had and was giving it to God fulfilling the First Commandment.  Now that is really righteous and impressive!

 

-Read: Mark 13 for the next lesson.

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-LESSON 12: Mark 11

by Dr. D ~

Lesson 12: Mark -Chapter 11

 

First read Mark 11 all the way through.

The ‘Supernatural’ Acts and Events in Mark 11

Things you don’t see everyday:

Verses 2-3: 

-Jesus prophetically knows about the colt and predicts the response.

Verses 13, 20:

-Jesus curses a fig tree.  It is withered the next time they see it.

 

Now read it again in detail along with  the Notes and Commentary below:

Notes and Commentary:

I.  Jesus and The Colt –Verses 1-7

Jesus tells his disciples about a colt in the next village that he needs and predicts the response.  Can you imagine what an uproar there would be today if some strangers came into your neighborhood and tried to take a car?  Then said that some visiting preacher needed it? The event turned out just as Jesus predicted, and the faith of the disciples would have been increased in the process.  Which was important, considering the events ahead.

 

II.  The Triumphal Entry of Jesus Into Jerusalem –Verses 8-11

Jesus rides the colt into Jerusalem as branches are spread before him and with disciples going before and after him shouting:

“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!   Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”

What an incredible scene that must have been.  It was a direct fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9:

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

With people obviously treating Jesus like the conquering Messiah coming in to rule in Jerusalem, one could say that this was the ‘high point’ of his ministry. In the midst of it all, the disciples were probably saying to themselves- ‘it is about time.’ After all, Jesus had told them it was time for him to go to Jerusalem. But they were not listening to him when he told them that he was going to be killed, they believed that it was time for him to take over and rule and their actions coming into Jerusalem revealed what they were thinking:

“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! 

Finally Jesus was going to fulfill all of the prophecies about taking over the nation and kicking out the oppressors. They continued to completely ignore what Jesus had told them about his impending death and Resurrection. Jesus goes straight to the temple and looks around at everything, then leaves and spends the night at Bethany.

You can almost hear the air going out of the expectation of the disciples as Jesus just looks around, does nothing and says nothing, and them leaves. In my mind’s eye I can see the twelve trying to catch up with Jesus as he turns around and leaves looking at each other with a surprised ‘what now?’ expression. 

You can bet that the loud prophetic entrance was not lost upon the religious leaders who would have viewed the event as a direct challenge to their authority. After all, Jesus and his entourage went straight to the temple and it looked like there was going to be some kind of confrontation since they had a huge crowd with them.

You could probably hear a pin drop among the priests and scribes as they held their breaths wondering what Jesus was going to do next along with the huge crowd following him. You can almost still hear their sigh of relief when he turned around and left without saying or doing a thing. But the event would have left them with a new conviction that something needed to be done about this Jesus and soon.

Meanwhile, Jesus hurriedly leaves the temple and Jerusalem behind and as he does the huge crowd following him dissipates in disappointment leaving only his regular followers with him as he spends the night at Bethany.  Maybe at Mary, Martha, and Lazarus’ place.

The disciples probably spent the evening talking among themselves wondering what had just happened. They had rallied a huge crowd in Jerusalem and could have taken over the temple but Jesus just turned around and left.

 

III.  Jesus Curses a Fig Tree -Verses 12-14

The next day while leaving Bethany, the passage tells us that Jesus was hungry and seeing a fig tree in the distance went to it to get some fruit, but it was barren with nothing but leaves.

The text tells us it was not really the season for fig trees to bear fruit.  Nevertheless, Jesus cursed the fig tree and proclaimed that no one would ever eat from it again.  The disciples witnessed this and probably wondered along with us why Jesus would curse an ‘out of season’ tree. It makes no sense. So what is this really all about?  Why did Jesus curse the tree, and what is the significance of this event?

First of all, the ’fig tree’ was one of the symbols for the nation of Israel.  As the fig tree in this passage had an abundance of leaves but no fruit; so also Israel with its huge temple appeared to be serving God but had no real Godly fruit in season or out.

The religious leaders were more concerned about their own positions, authority, and riches and had very little care for the people or God they were supposed to be serving.  As Jesus had cursed the tree, so also would he curse Israel and its fine temple–the day would come that “not one stone would be left upon another…” (Mark 13:2).

 

IV.  Jesus Spends the Day in Jerusalem and Clears the Temple –Verses 15-19

     Verses 15-16:   Jesus overturns the tables and the booths of business in the temples.  There were actual businesses selling animals and products for temple sacrifice.  There was even a money changing booth, because the Roman money with the image of Caesar on it was considered a sacrilege.  That money had to be exchanged for ‘temple’ coins.  Apparently, these businesses were not entirely honest, and actually cheated the people who came to worship in God’s temple.

When I view this scene in my mind, I see Judas right behind Jesus picking up some of the coins that were spilled on the ground until Jesus stared directly at him. Judas was the ‘treasurer’ for the small Jesus group but probably looked forward to supervising the Temple treasury one day and the wealth that came along with that position. Part of that was earned by these very tables which had become a tradition in the courtyard of the House of God.

     Verse 17:  Jesus was full of righteous indignation and quoted from the prophets. “Is it not written: My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it a den of robbers.”:

7… for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. –Is. 56:7

11 Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the Lord. -Jer.7:11

Jesus stayed all day in the temple teaching.  The Greek word here denotes a regular extended systematic teaching, rather than just this is proclamation.

     Verse 18:  The chief priests observed the actions of Jesus and heard his teaching and were particularly concerned about the large crowd that were following him.  They were trying to figure out a way to stop him and even kill him but they were afraid of all the people who seemed to be hanging on every word he was teaching. 

Jesus was challenging their authority and the people seemed to be going along with it. He had obviously put a dent in their income that day, but worse, there was an obvious threat that he and his group might replace them as the major religious leaders in Israel and the temple. Then they would lose their positions of power along with their income. 

They were using their positions to gain vast amounts of wealth through cheating temple worshippers and this Jesus unveiled their fraudulent and unscriptural practices to the people.  They were now ready to do anything to get rid of Jesus, even kill him. But to do that they would have to come up with some reason to go to the Romans since they did not have the legal authority to administer capitol punishment

     Verse 19:  When evening came, Jesus and his disciples left the city once more.  Probably back to Bethany where they had lots of friends and some degree of protection.

 

V.  Lessons from the Withered Fig Tree –Verses 20-26

The next morning, Jesus and his disciples pass by the fig tree that Jesus had cursed the day before and it was withered.  Jesus uses this example as an object for teaching ‘faith’ to his group.  The disciples were amazed that the word of Jesus against the tree had been fulfilled so quickly.

     Verses 22-24:  Have faith and you can remove mountains, believe and what you pray for will be given to you?   This really isn’t a matter of ‘claiming’ what you want and if you have enough faith you will receive it.  One could never ‘work’ hard enough to get this kind of effective faith–that is, the kind that literally moves mountains.

That kind of faith comes only through the Holy Spirit.  It is God given faith in order to achieve God given tasks and goals which he inspires. Actually this scripture supports that it is only God’s faith that can really move mountains. Although most of the versions of the Bible translate the Greek at the beginning of verse 22:

Ekete pistin theou

to read- “Have faith in God.”

The literal Greek is far different and probably does not make sense to most scholars:  

“Have faith of God.”  or  “Have (the) faith of God.”

Theou (God) in the Greek is ‘possessive’ here- Therefore it is God’s faith that you must have if you are going to move mountains. The only way you can get the God type of faith is directly from God.

One of the lessons here is that you can ask God and specifically the Holy Spirit for greater faith when needed. Remember the father in Mark 9 who wanted Jesus to cast a demon out of his son:

…But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him,

“‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”

24 Immediately the father of the child cried out[a] and said,

I believe; help my unbelief!” –Mark 9:22-25

When we need greater faith, we can always ask God for more- to give us what we need from his unlimited supply.

There are many stories in the scriptures that demonstrates that God gives people the privilege to play a major part in the process by stepping out in faith.  e.g.:  Elijah calls down fire from heaven; Jonathan attacks a whole army of Philistines with just his armor bearer; David battles Goliath, etc.  The Father honors those who seek a greater faith and relationship with him.

     Verse 25:  Jesus teaches another important lesson in this verse.  If you do want your prayers to be answered, make sure you have forgiven everyone and have no grudges against anyone.  Then the Heavenly Father will be able to forgive you also; and you will be in a better relationship with God, having nothing to obstruct and to get in the way of your prayers being fulfilled. With a greater relationship with God, you can seek and ask for greater God given faith and results.

 

VI.  The Authority of Jesus is challenged Once More –Verses 27-33

Jesus and his disciples enter the temple once more and are confronted by a group of ‘chief priests’, teachers, and elders. They ask Jesus:

“By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?”

Jesus answers them by asking them a question on the origin of John the Baptist’s ministry:

  “…was it from God or men? Tell me.”

Notice that the priests are only concerned about their own positions and the opinion of the people.  They really don’t seem to care whether the ministry of John, or Jesus for that matter, was ordained by God. So they claim not to know. Therefore Jesus refused to answer their question since they were really not looking for an answer.  They had already made up their minds about Jesus and wouldn’t have believed what he said if he told them anyway.

Over and over again for three years Jesus had demonstrated his Godly authority to many of those same leaders through healings and miracles that only true prophets and servants of God had done in the past. Yet they continued to question him about authority? Some of them had even suggested that he had done everything by the power of Satan instead of God.

In claiming not to know they actually condemned themselves and the conversation  was over.  They were trying to trip up and judge Jesus, but in the process, they themselves were tested and found wanting in God’s own temple.

 

-Read: Mark 12 for the next lesson.

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