Mark 11:1-19

Sunday Morning Bible Study

March 13, 2005


We don’t often like inspections. We don’t like it when people are looking over our shoulder and checking us out.


A newlywed farmer and his wife were visited by her mother, who immediately demanded an inspection of the place. The Farmer had genuinely tried to be friendly to his new mother-in-law, hoping that it could be a friendly, non-antagonistic relationship. To no avail, she kept nagging them at every opportunity, demanding changes, offering unwanted advice and making life unbearable to the farmer and his new bride. While they were walking through the barn, the farmer’s mule suddenly reared up and kicked the mother-in-law in the head, killing her instantly.

At the funeral service a few days later, the farmer stood near the casket and greeted folks as they walked by. The pastor noticed that whenever a woman would whisper something to the farmer, he would nod his head yes and say something. Whenever a man walked by and whispered to the farmer, however, he would shake his head, no and mumble a reply. Very curious as to this bizarre behavior, the pastor later asked the farmer what that was all about.

The farmer replied, “The women would say, ‘What a terrible tragedy’ and I would nod my head and say, ‘Yes, it was.’ The men would ask, ‘Can I borrow that mule?’ and I would shake my head and say, ‘Can’t. It’s all booked up for a year.’

As much as we don’t like inspections, sometime they’re necessary. And no, you can’t borrow the mule.

Jesus is now beginning the last week of His earthly ministry in Jerusalem.

:1-11 The Triumphal Entry

:1 And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany

Bethphage – “house of unripe figs”; Bethany – “house of dates or figs”

:7 And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him

Because this colt had never been ridden, there was no saddle. The disciples throw their coats on the back of the animal to improvise a saddle.

Jesus would be fulfilling an ancient prophecy:

(Zec 9:9 NKJV) "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.

:9 And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord:

The crowd is all around Jesus. People are in front of Him leading the procession. People are behind Him following Him to Jerusalem.

Hosannahosanna – Hebrew for “save now”

The people are quoting from Psalm 118:

(Psa 118:22-26 NKJV) The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. {23} This was the Lord's doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. {24} This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.

This is another study in itself. But this specific day, which we call Palm Sunday, was actually predicted by the ancient prophets (Dan. 9:25). If you follow Daniel’s prophecy, you can calculate the actual day of the arrival of the Messiah in Jerusalem. Jesus showed up on time.

{25} Save now, I pray, O LORD; O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity. {26} Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.

The words “Save now” are “Hosanna”.
The people are quoting a well-known Messianic Psalm. They are proclaiming the entering of the King into Jerusalem.

:11 …into the temple: and when he had looked round …

Jesus enters into the outer courts of the Temple, looked around checking things out. I wonder what Jesus is looking at? The word could almost be translated “He inspected” the Temple.

After His inspection, He headed back to Bethany for the evening. Lazarus, Mary, and Martha lived in Bethany.

:12-14 Empty Fig Tree

:12 when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry:

Matthew tells us (Mat. 21:18) that it was very early in the morning, before 6:00 a.m.

:13 … he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.

the time of figs was not yet –

The main crop of figs come in early autumn and this is only the spring. But there is also what is called a “first ripe fig” that will start to grow in the early spring before the leaves come out on the trees. By the time the leaves are out, the “first ripe figs” are ready to eat. There should have been figs on the tree with the crop of leaves.

nothing but leaves –

All show, no go. All hat, no herd.

:14 …No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever…

Wow. It sure sounds like Jesus gets cranky when He’s hungry.


A hungry African lion was roaming through the jungle looking for something to eat. He came across two men. One was sitting under a tree and reading a book; the other was typing away on his typewriter. The lion quickly pounced on the man reading the book and devoured him. Even the king of the jungle knows that readers digest and writers cramp.


A man had just finished reading his book “Man Of The House” while making his commute home from work. When he reached home, he stormed into the house and walked directly up to his wife. Pointing his finger in her face, he said, “From now on I want you to know that I am the man of this house and my word is law! You are to prepare me a gourmet meal tonight, and when I’m finished eating my meal, I expect a sumptuous dessert afterward. Then, after dinner, you’re going to draw my bath so I can relax. And when I’m finished with my bath, guess who’s going to dress me and comb my hair?” His wife thought for a moment and responded, “The Funeral Director is my guess.”

Is this all about Jesus being cranky or bossy?

:15-19 Temple Cleaning

:15 …began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple…

Jesus comes back to the Temple on Monday morning and takes action. He’s apparently thought about it over night.

There was quite a racket going on in the temple in those days.

Selling and buying

Originally the idea was to provide a service for those who had to travel so far to offer their sacrifices.  Instead of having to bring their animal with them, they could simply purchase an animal at the Temple to sacrifice (Deut. 14:24-26).

But the priests learned they could make a few bucks by charging higher prices in the Temple.  And since all sacrifices needed to be “without blemish” and since the priests were the one to determine what was “without blemish”, they could disqualify any sacrifices not purchased at the Temple.

Quite a racket.

Money changing

Whether it was to bring their “tithe”, the tenth of their income (Mal. 3:10), or to pay the annual temple tax (Ex. 30:13), the people were bringing money to give to God.

But at some point, someone decided that pagan Gentile coins were not acceptable in God’s Temple.  And that’s how the moneychangers got started.

Alfred Edersheim, a Jewish historian and cultural expert says that at this time in history, the priests were netting the equivalent of $300,000 a year in money exchange alone.

Dove Selling

The mention of doves refers to the poor man's sacrifice. If you were too poor to sacrifice a sheep or goat, you could sacrifice doves.  Nothing sickens God’s heart more than taking advantage of the poor.

:16 ……that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.

People were using the Temple grounds as a shortcut.

:17 …My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer…

He acts as if He owns the place.

All this stuff was causing people to hate going to church.

Just before the Ark of the Covenant was destroyed and the city of Shiloh wasted, the same kind of thing was going on at the Tabernacle.  The high priest’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas were doing all kinds of things to rip people off.

(1 Sam 2:17 NKJV)  Therefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD, for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.

What’s it all about?

I see a common thread through all the events we’ve read about today.


He desires fruit

It is not uncommon in the Scriptures to compare the nation of Israel to various plants or trees. Israel is described in the Old Testament as a fig tree, a grapevine, and an olive tree. What do they all have in common? They produce fruit.
(Luke 13:6-9 NKJV) He also spoke this parable: "A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. {7} "Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, 'Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?' {8} "But he answered and said to him, 'Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. {9} 'And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.'"
What is God looking for? Fruit.
What happens with the tree that doesn’t produce fruit? It is cut down.

Who was Jesus talking about? He was talking about the nation of Israel. If they didn’t produce the fruit of repentance and following after Jesus, they would be cut down.

Very shortly, Jesus will be telling another similar story to the Jewish leaders in the Temple (Mark 12:1-11)
(Luke 20:9-18 NKJV) Then He began to tell the people this parable: "A certain man planted a vineyard, leased it to vinedressers, and went into a far country for a long time. {10} "Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that they might give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the vinedressers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. {11} "Again he sent another servant; and they beat him also, treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. {12} "And again he sent a third; and they wounded him also and cast him out. {13} "Then the owner of the vineyard said, 'What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. Probably they will respect him when they see him.' {14} "But when the vinedressers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.' {15} "So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them? {16} "He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others." And when they heard it they said, "Certainly not!" {17} Then He looked at them and said, "What then is this that is written: 'The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone'? {18} "Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder."
What is God looking for? Fruit. Did you notice how Jesus also quoted from Psalm 118 (the stone which the builders rejected …)?
Have you noticed the severity of consequences in each situation for the one that doesn’t produce any fruit?  God is serious about fruit.
We might be tempted to say, “Well God sure taught those Jews a good lesson, but we’re not Jews”
(Rom 11:17-22 NKJV) And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, {18} do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. {19} You will say then, "Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in." {20} Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. {21} For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. {22} Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.
What is God looking for? Fruit.

What does “fruit” look like? What are we talking about?

It’s results in your own personal life:
(Gal 5:22-23 NKJV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, {23} gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
It’s results in the two-fold work of the church: Reaching lost people and building up fellow believers.
Are there people who will point to you and say that you have been an influence for good on their life?
It’s about people. It’s about growth. It’s about faithfulness.

How do we produce fruit?

(John 15:1-8 NKJV) "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. {2} "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. {3} "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. {4} "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. {5} "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. {6} "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. {7} "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. {8} "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
1. Pruning (vs. 2) – being cut back, cutting back the non-essentials
Sometimes we are pruned through the difficult times we go through:

(Heb 12:11 NKJV) Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.



A newspaper in San Diego printed the story of a woman who had a little canary whom she affectionately named Chirpy. The little bird brought all kinds of song and beauty into their home.

One day while vacuuming, she thought, “My, the bottom of Chirpy’s cage is dirty. I’ll just vacuum the bottom of his cage:’ While she was vacuuming, the phone rang. So when she reached over for the phone, she lifted up the vacuum cleaner and it sucked in Chirpy, all the way down the tube, down to the little bag. Of course, she opened the vacuum cleaner and cut the bag open and there was Chirpy inside trying to survive. She breathed a sigh of relief. But she thought, “Oh, he’s so dirty.” So she put him under a faucet and ran water all over him. And then when she finished with him under the faucet, where he was about to drown, she dried him with a blow dryer. A newspaper reporter asked, “Well, what’s he like now?” She replied, “Well, he doesn’t sing very much anymore:”

-Max Lucado, In the Eye of the Storm

I think that Jesus cleansing the Temple was pruning.
2. Abide – get connected and stay connected (vs. 4) to Jesus.
For some of you, it’s possible you’ve never been connected to Jesus.
He paid for your sins by dying on a cross so that you could have a relationship with God.
(John 1:12 NKJV)  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
Once you’re connected, stay connected.  The key to bearing fruit is your time with Jesus.
3. The Word (vs. 7)
David writes about the godly man who meditates in God’s Word day and night:
(Psa 1:3 NKJV)  He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.
4. Prayer (vs. 7)
Each of us as individuals are a temple of the Holy Spirit (1Cor. 6:19). What did Jesus say that the Temple was to be called?  A house of prayer. 
(Gal 6:7-9 NKJV) Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. {8} For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. {9} And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
5. Keep going – keep doing good
It’s like the story of the little boy with a small shovel.  He was trying to clear a pathway through deep, new-fallen snow in front of his house.  A man paused to observe the child’s enormous task.  “Little boy,” he inquired, “how can someone as small as you expect to finish a task as big as this?”  The boy looked up and replied confidently, “Little by little, that’s how!”  And he continued shoveling.
You can’t bear fruit sitting on the sofa.  If you’ve done these other things, get up and do good.