Entering the promised land, 11:1-16:20
1. A symbolic judgment upon Israel, 11:1-12:12
i] Jesus' entry into JerusalemSynopsis
Mark now begins his record of the final days of Jesus' ministry before his arrest and crucifixion. The story begins with Jesus' entry into Jerusalem as the long awaited messiah. Borrowing or renting a colt, probably from someone in Bethany, Jesus rides the last four kilometres into Jerusalem. Jesus' disciples, and some of the pilgrims heading for Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, recognise the import of this symbolic act and so lay out pieces of clothing and tree branches in front of the coming messiah. Of course, it is likely that for most of the pilgrims it was just business as usual. On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus visits the temple and then heads out of the city to stay overnight with the twelve at Bethany.
Jesus the messiah, claims his crown to the acclaim of his people, proclaiming "peace to the nations."
i] Context: See 1:1-8. Under Joshua, the children of God marched into Canaan to execute God's judgement on an evil people, to overcome the enemies of God in preparation for the establishment of the kingdom. Jesus, the warrior king, Son of God, now enters Jerusalem with sword in hand, so introducing the final days of his ministry prior to his arrest and crucifixion.
In this final section of Mark's gospel, covering the ministry of Jesus in Jerusalem, we are first presented with a major teaching unit, 11:1-13:37. From Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, and particularly the cursing of the barren fig tree, 11:12-25, Mark sets out to reveal the hypocrisy of Israel's religious elite, the judgment they will soon face and Christ's "leaving" the temple, a leaving which images the final departure of the "glory of the Lord" from the centre of Israel's life, 13:1, cf. Ezk.10:18-19. Mark records Jesus' final assessment of Israel's flawed piety in 12:38-40 and then offsets their flawed religiosity with the image of the righteous poor, 12:41-44, and the kingdom they will soon inherit, 13:1-37. The major teaching unit covering 11:1-13:37 is followed by the passion of Christ, 14:1-15:39, and the empty tomb, 15:40-16:8.
1. Judgement in symbol and parable upon Israel, 11:1-12:12
The entry into Jerusalem, 11:1-11
The temple cleansed, 11:12-26
The controversy over Jesus' authority, 11:27-33
The parable of the defiant tenants - Judgement on Israel, 12:1-12.
2. The blindness of Israel exposed, 12:13-44
The question concerning paying taxes, 12:13-17
The question concerning the resurrection, 12:18-27
The question concerning the greatest commandment, 12:28-34
Jesus' question concerning David's son, 12:35-37
The religious poverty of Israel, 12:38-44
3. Prophecies concerning the kingdom of Israel, 13:1-37
These prophecies focus on God's will for the historic kingdom of Israel, the present spiritual kingdom and the heavenly kingdom. Jesus' words are a word of warning. Israel, God's historic people, have been blinded and judged for their evil, their lack of faith. The nation will soon be destroyed. Therefore, we ourselves need to take the warning to heart. We must be faithful as we await the day of the Lord's coming, and don't be caught unaware as they were. "Watch!".
The beginning of the birth pangs, 13:1-13
The desolating sacrilege, 13:14-23
The coming of the Son of Man, 13:24-27
Jesus answers the disciples' question, 13:28-31
Be prepared for the coming day, 13:32-37
4. Victory, 14:1-15:39
As David overcame Goliath, so Jesus the Son of God overcomes the powers of darkness upon the cross of Calvary. With the enemy destroyed, the prisoners released from the bondage of sin and death, the king enters his rest. The new age has dawned, the kingdom has come with power.
The anointing, 14:1-11
The last supper, 14:12-25
Peter's denial, 14:53-72
The trial of Jesus before Pilate's tribunal, 15:1-20
The crucifixion of Jesus, 15:21-39
5. Epilogue, 15:40 - 16:8
The matter is now settled; the victory won. So, Mark follows up the climactic victory of Jesus on the cross, recognised in the messianic confession of the centurion, with the story of some women who visit the tomb, and the story of a godly man who is waiting expectantly for the realisation of the kingdom of God.
i] The burial of Jesus, 15:40-47
ii] The Resurrection of Jesus, 16:1-8
ii] Background: In this last section of the gospel, Mark describes Jesus teaching in Jerusalem during the day and retreating to Bethany in the evening. In tradition, certainly from the 4th century, Jesus spent a week in Jerusalem (Palm Sunday to Easter). The text does not demand this conclusion and so it is quite possible that Jesus spent weeks, even months, in Jerusalem. Some commentators have argued that Jesus came to Jerusalem for the feast of Tabernacles and was arrested and crucified at the feast of Passover.
iii] Structure: Jesus enters Jerusalem:
Preparing for the way of the Lord, v1-6:
The disciples enter a village, secure transport and return to Bethany.
Jesus enters Jerusalem, v7-11:
He enters, surveys the scene, and returns to Bethany.
In Luke's gospel, the entry is tied to Jesus' journey to the cross, in fact it's not even an entry as such. The journey motif is certainly present in Mark, yet for Mark, the entry is a further unveiling of Jesus' messianic credentials. Mark draws out the messianic significance of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem with a number of pointed observations which reveal Jesus' royal status:
•*The disciples' act of obeisance in placing their outer garments on the colt - "a kind of makeshift throne", Boring;
•*The crowd's obeisance in laying out the red carpet by setting their garments on the road, along with leafy branches, cf. 2King.9:13, 1Mac.13:49-50;
•*The crowd's shout of "Hosanna", meaning "save now", and their proclamation that Jesus is the one who comes in the name of the Lord, Psalm 118:16.
These events together seem to depict a moment of triumphant messianism, the coming of the king in terms of Zechariah 14 rather than the coming of a peaceable and humble messiah in terms of Zechariah 9.
Of interest is the miraculous element in Jesus' preparations for his entry into Jerusalem. Other than the cursed fig tree, Mark records no further messianic miracles in his gospel. He does though record Jesus' prophetic role and it is often thought that 11:1-6 serves this end, so Boring, ie., Mark relates the story "to demonstrate Jesus' precise knowledge and sovereignty over subsequent events", Edwards. On the other hand, the business of requisitioning a ride into Jerusalem appropriate for the coming king (Zech.14, Gen.49:11, 1King.1:38-40) may well be nothing more than the playing out of prior arrangements. Note the arrangements for the last supper, 14:12-16, where the reader is again left wondering whether Jesus is clairvoyant or just into micro-managing!!!! Of course, it is possible that "Mark perhaps takes to be supernatural knowledge what was in fact the result of a well-laid plan", France.
Matt.21:1-11, Lk.19:28-40, Jn.12:12-19. Note the interesting differences indicated below.
vi] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage can be found in the pew-level sermon notes Jesus enters Jerusalem.
Text - 11:1
Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, v1-11: i] Jesus prepares for his entry into Jerusalem, v1-6. Jesus is travelling on the pilgrim's road from Jericho, a road which climbs some 800 meters to Jerusalem. The road passes near to Bethany, over the Mount of Olives, down to the Kidron Valley and by the small village of Bethphage just outside of Jerusalem (more properly a suburb of Jerusalem). On the side road leading to Bethany, Jesus gets his disciples to go to the village and collect a colt. The fact that "no one has ever ridden" it, serves to highlight its sacred task, Num.19:2, Deut.21:3. The detailed recording of this, along with the other seemingly unimportant observations, serves to provide clues on how Jesus' entry into Jerusalem fulfils messianic prophecy, eg., Jesus is the king who comes with a shout of acclamation, cf., The Oracle of Judah, Gen.49:8-12. So, by these signs Mark lets us into the secret that Jesus is the long-promised coming king. The disciples follow Jesus' instructions to the letter - they go, they untie, and they say ....
oJte "as" - [and] when. Temporal conjunction, introducing a temporal clause; "when they were nearing Jerusalem", Barclay.
eggizousin (eggizw) pres. "they approached" - they approached, drew near. Historic / narrative present, probably indicating narrative transition (ie., a paragraph marker); "they draw near."
eiV + acc. "and came to" - to, into. Spatial, expressing direction of action and/or arrival at; "to" rather than "into", so Zerwick.
Bhqfagh (h) "Bethphage" - bethpage. A village east of Bethany, although it's exact site is not known for sure.
Bhqanian (a) "Bethany" - [and] bethany. A village some two miles from Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives, a ridge to the east of Jerusalem, facing the city across the Kidron valley.
twn elaiwn (a) gen. "[Mount] of Olives" - [toward the mount] of olives. The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic, of location; "the hill called olives."
twn maqhtwn (hV ou) gen. "disciples" - [jesus sends two] of the disciples [of him]. The genitive is adjectival, partitive; "two from among his disciples."
autoiV dat. pro. "to them" - [and he says] to them [go into the village]. Dative of indirect object.
thn "-" - the [opposite, before facing you]. The article serves as an adjectivizer turning the prepositional phrase "opposite you" into an attributive modifier limiting "village"; "the village which is opposite you." The improper preposition katenanti, "opposite", takes a genitive, so the genitive uJmwn, "you". "Go to the village opposite you", Barclay.
euquV adv. "just as" - [and] immediately. Temporal adverb, "immediately upon entering", although the use here seems local, of place, such that the colt is at the entrance of the village.
eisporeuomenoi (eisporeuomai) pres. part. "you enter" - entering, going, coming [into it]. The participle is adverbial, temporal; "on entering, at the entrance, you will find ..." Given that Bethphage was on the Roman road to Jerusalem, it is most likely Jesus has told his disciples to leave the road and go to Bethany on the side road where they will find the colt. "As soon as you reach there", Berkeley.
pwlon (oV) "a colt" - [you will find] a colt (the young of any animal, although often a horse's foal). Accusative direct object of the verb "to find." Matthew and John say it is the foal of an ass. A Roman reader of the text would read it as a "young male horse", an appropriate animal for a king riding into his capital to claim a crown. Mark does not emphasise Jesus' humility. For Mark, Jesus is not the meek king of Zechariah 9:9.
dedemenon (dew) perf. pas. part. "tied there" - having been tied, bound. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "colt", "a tethered colt", Barclay.
ef + acc. "[which]" - upon [which]. Spatial.
anqrwpwn (oV) "[no one]" - [no one] of men. The genitive is adjectival, partitive / wholative. "On which nobody has ever sat", Berkeley.
ekaqisen (kaqizw) aor. "has [ever] ridden" - [not yet] sat, placed, [untie it and bring]. Here of sitting upon the back of an animal and therefore "ridden".
ean + subj. "if" - [and] if. Conditional clause, 3rd class, where the proposed condition has the possibility of coming true; "if, as the case may be, someone says to you ..... then say ....."
uJmin dat. pro. "[asks] you" - [certain = someone may say] to you. Dative of indirect object.
tiv "why" - why [are you doing this]? As an interrogative adverb, "why are you doing this?", or possibly as a pronoun, "what is this that you are doing?", France.
oJ kurioV (oV) "the Lord [needs it]" - [say] the lord [has need of it]. Nominative subject of the verb "to have." The "of it", autou (gen. pro. = possessive) goes with "has need" and not "Lord", otherwise we end up with "the master / owner has need." "The Lord", possibly in the sense of the divine Jesus, possibly "the Master", or even as a title for the "Lord God" (the article, as here, is often used for the divine title). If "Master", Jesus is the master of the animal, he is the Lord of it, which status he must have organised renting it sometime before, or whatever!! If "the Lord God" then the statement asserts that the animal is needed for divine service. If attaining the animal was prearranged then obviously the words are a kind of password authorising the disciples to take it.
apostellei (apostellw) pres. "will send [it] back" - [and immediately] he sends [it]. Variant apostelei fut. is followed by the NIV. The subject of "will send" is unclear. Usually translated as if "the Lord" is the subject, but the subject can be taken as tiV, "someone", although the sense is somewhat obscure - the "someone" brings (present tense) the animal immediately here, ie., to the disciples who have come to collect it. So, the words the disciples are to say to any person tending the animal, tiV, "someone", are only "The Lord [God] has need of it." "And he will hand it over immediately."
euquV adv. "[here] shortly" - again [here]. Taken as temporal by NIV; "soon", Decker.
Mark goes into some detail when setting the scene; "they went off, and they found a colt tethered at a door, outside on the open street", Barclay.
exw epi in" - [and they went away, left, and found a colt] out (adv.) on (+ gen.) . Spatial construction.
tou amfodou (on) gen. "the street" - the street. Usually of a village with a number of streets intersecting. The animal is tethered out in the street, "at the door", rather than in a stable or yard, ready to be picked up, as arranged.
dedemenon (dew) perf. pas. part. "tied" - having been tied. The participle adjectival, attributive, "found the colt which was tied to a door."
proV "at [a doorway]" - toward [door, gate / doorway, portal, entrance]. Spatial, but here with the sense "beside / by / at."
luousin (luw) pres. "As they untied [it]" - [and] they loosen, untie [it]. The tense in this narrative is typically present expressing the action as it happened.
twn ... eJsthkotwn (iJsthmi) gen. perf. part. "people standing" - [and certain] of the ones having been standing [there]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting tineV, "some people", while the genitive is partitive; "some people who were standing there asked." The "anyone", singular, of v3 becomes "some", plural. They question the disciples' actions. Presumably the owner is not at home, and given Jesus' instructions, Jesus probably knew that the owner would not be home. This is why the owner has tethered the animal out the front. Presumably those standing out the front with the animal are privy to the arrangements. Note Luke has oiJ kurioi "the owners / masters" question the disciples' action - surely Luke has got this wrong!
autoiV dat. pro. "asked" - [were saying] to them. Dative of indirect object.
luonteV (luw) pres. act. part. "[what are you doing] untying" - [what are you doing] untying, releasing [the colt]? The participle is adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of their doing, namely, "untying the colt", but possibly instrumental, expressing means. "What are you about, untying that colt", Cassirer.
autoiV dat. pro. "[they answered]" - [and they said, spoke] to them. Dative of indirect object. They, the disciples (plural), respond to the question of the bystanders.
kaqwV "as" - like, just as, as [jesus told them]. Comparative, although possibly introducing a dependent statement expressing what Jesus had said; "and they told them what Jesus had said", ESV.
afhkan (afihmi) aor. "they let [them] go" - [and] they allowed, let go, released, permitted [them]. Better with the sense "gave permission." The answer of the disciples, "the lord / master has need of it", satisfies the bystanders. Presumably they are aware of the arrangements, although Mark is possibly making a point about Jesus' authority.
ii] The triumphal entry, v7-10. In place of a saddle, the disciples place their outer garments on the colt - a kind of makeshift throne for the coming king. As Jesus rides toward the city, there is a spontaneous reaction by some of the pilgrims, demonstrating great respect toward Jesus. For similar expressions of respect see 2Kin.9:12f, 1Macc.13:51. Yet, their response is not necessarily a recognition of his messiahship. It could just be a salute to Jesus the prophet, entering Jerusalem to fulfil his prophetic mission. Of course, Mark writes with the eyes of faith, and so for those with eyes to see, this is indeed the coming of the Davidic king. The pilgrims sing / chant Psalm 118:25f, one of the Hallel Psalms used liturgically during Passover and Tabernacles, Psalms 113-118. The word "hosanna" originally meant "save us", but was by now an acclamation, something like Hallelujah. The "he who comes" can mean the pilgrims, since they are the blessed ones, yet Mark sees Jesus as the coming one, the blessed one.
ekballousin (ekballw) pres. "threw [their cloaks] over" - [and they bring the colt toward jesus and] they throw upon, cast upon. They obviously did this in place of a saddle; "they put some of their clothes on its back", CEV.
autw/ dat. pro. "it" - it [the cloths of them]. Dative of direct object after the epi prefix verb "to throw upon."
ep (epi) + acc. "on [it]" - upon [it]. Spacial; "down upon."
estrwsan (strwnnimi) aor. "spread" - [and many] spread out, strew (as for cushions on a bench or a bed). This seems to be a spontaneous action out of respect for Jesus.
stibadaV (aV adoV) "branches" - [the garments of them into the road, but others] bits of straw, rushes, leaves. The stuff of mattresses. Here probably foliage, but as it is from the "fields", it may just be straw, or possibly olive branches. Palm fronds are very unlikely, although a nice thought, cf., John 12:13.
koyanteV (koptw) aor. part. "cut" - having cut. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "branches"; "branches which they had cut." "Others put down straw they had cut from the fields", Phillips.
ek + gen. "in [the fields]" - out of, from [the fields, countryside]. Expressing source / origin.
oiJ proagonteV (proagw) pres. part. "those who went ahead" - [and] the ones going before, leading the way. This participle serves as a substantive, nominative subject of the verb "to cry out."
oiJ akolouqounteV (akolouqew) pres. part. "followed" - [and] the ones following. The participle as above. Some commentators suggest that there are two groups of people, those who came up with Jesus and those who came out from Jerusalem to meet him. Mark is probably saying that Jesus was surrounded by a large crowd. "The whole crowd, both those who were in front and those who were behind", Phillips.
wJsanna "Hosanna" - [were crying out] save us we pray, save us now. By this time the word is a common liturgical acclamation and so is not actually a prayer, although Mark is obviously well aware of its meaning as a prayer. By means of the acclamation and the pilgrims' blessing from Psalm 118:25-26, Jesus is acclaimed by the people. The quote is by no means messianic, so it is unclear in what sense Jesus is being acclaimed. "The entry was apparently regarded by the masses as a pilgrimage rather than a messianic triumph", Edwards. As a prayer, "God save the people", Barclay.
euloghmenoV (eulogew) perf. pas. part. "blessed" - having been blessed [the one coming]. The quotation from the Psalm is without a verb. The participle "having been blessed" obviously serves as a substantive, nominative predicate of an assumed verb to-be, with the substantive participle oJ ercomenoV, "the one coming", serving as the subject; "the one coming is blessed", "a blessing rests on him who appears", Cassirer.
en + dat. "in [the name]" - in [name]. Local, expressing space, metaphorical; "in / under the authority of the Lord"; "name" = the person - to bear the name, their person, is to bear their authority.
kuriou (oV) "of the Lord" - of lord. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, the possession of a derivative characteristic, "the name" = "the personal authority of"
Mark presents this verse as a continuation of the crowd's acclamation, even though the words are not part of the pilgrim blessing, Ps.118:25-26. It seems more than likely that the verse is editorial, since the phrase "the coming kingdom of our father David" is not something a first century Jew would say. A believer in the apostolic church happily spoke of "the coming kingdom" and of Jesus the messiah its Davidic king. Both Matthew and Luke take the messianic nature of the statement on board, but do not repeat it verbatim. So, for example, Luke adds oJ basileuV to the pilgrim blessing, not "kingdom", but "king", probably serving to stand in apposition to oJ ercomenoV; "blessed is the coming one, the king (who comes) in the name of the Lord", cf., Nolland. Variants abound, eg., anarthrous basileuV = "the coming king." Marcus argues that the statement reflects second Samuel chapter 7 which speaks of a son of David who will establish his father's dominion by building God a "house". Obviously for Mark, the statement gives messianic significance to the pilgrim blessing, which by itself is not messianic.
euloghmenh (eulogew) perf. pas. part. "blessed" - having been blessed. The participle serves as a substantive, predicate nominative, as above.
hJ ercomenh (ercomai) pres. mid. part. "the coming" - the coming. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "kingdom"; "the kingdom of our father David which is coming." The phrase "the coming kingdom" is an unusual expression for a Jew, although not for a believer in the apostolic church.
basileia (a) "kingdom" - kingdom. The dynamic reign of God - both domain and dominion, cf., Wanamaker; "Blessed is the coming dominion of our father David!", Marcus.
tou patroV gen. "father [David]" - of the father [of us, david]. The genitive "David"stands in apposition to "father". Possibly as a general term, "ancestor", but again a strange reference since the term "father" was normally reserved for the patriarchs.
wJsanna "Hosanna" - hosanna. "Hosanna" is again best taken as an acclamation of praise. Possibly the acclamation is made by the heavenly host, or by us toward the one who dwells in heaven, in which case, "praise be to God"; "hooray for God in heaven above", CEV. Possibly, but unlikely, this second "hosanna" may be intended as a prayer; "O send your salvation from the heights of heaven", Barclay.
en + dat. "in [the highest]" - in [the most high]. Local, expressing space; "in high heaven."
iii] Jesus enters Jerusalem and surveys the temple complex, v11. If it were not for the fact that the Christ must suffer, Jesus could, at this point, be crowned the messianic king. Yet, what eventuates is an anticlimax - the crowd dissipates and Jesus, along with the twelve, depart for Bethany.
to iJeron "the temple" - [and he entered into jerusalem and into] the temple. Most likely the whole temple precinct.
peribleyamenoV (periblepw) aor. mid. part. "he looked around at" - [and] having looked around [all = everywhere]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the main verb "he went out", or possibly temporal, "and when he had looked around ....", AV. "He observed everything around and, as night was approaching, he went out to Bethany with the twelve", Berkeley.
oushV (eimi) gen. pres. part. "since it was [late]" - [the hour now] being [late]. The genitive participle and its genitive subject, "the hour", forms a genitive absolute construction, temporal, or probably better, causal, "because", "as it was late", Moffatt. Obviously late afternoon, about sunset.
meta + gen. "with [the twelve]" - [he went out to bethany] with [the twelve]. Expressing association / accompaniment.