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The Gospel According to Mark, Chapter 11

Analysis and Commentary


Jesus Enters Jerusalem, Turkish Mosaic

Jesus Enters Jerusalem, Turkish Mosaic

In the eleventh chapter of Mark’s gospel, Jesus finally enters Jerusalem — the goal of his recent travels and the end stage of his entire ministry. Jesus’ time is marked by conflict, prophecy, and curses and Jesus assumes the authority to tell everyone that the time for traditional Judaism is coming to a close.

Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem (Mark 11:1-11)
After much traveling, Jesus arrives at Jerusalem. Mark structures the Jerusalem narrative carefully, giving Jesus three days before the passion events and three days before his crucifixion and burial. The entire time is filled with parables about his mission and symbolic actions referring to his identity.

Jesus Curses the Fig Tree (Mark 11:12-14)
One of the more infamous passages in the gospels involves Jesus’ cursing of a fig tree for not having any fruit for him despite the fact that it wasn’t even the season for fruit. What sort of petulant individual would deliver a gratuitous, arbitrary curse? Why would this be Jesus’ only miracle in the environs of Jerusalem? In reality the incident is meant as a metaphor for something larger — and worse.

Jesus Cleanses the Temple (Mark 11:15-19)
After cursing the fig tree, Jesus and his disciples reenter Jerusalem and proceed to the Temple where “moneychangers” and those selling sacrificial animals are doing a lively business. Mark reports that this infuriates Jesus who overturns the tables and chastises them. This is the most violent we have seen Jesus yet and is quite uncharacteristic of him thus far — but then again, so was cursing the fig tree, and as we know the two events are closely linked.

Jesus’ Lesson of the Withered Fig Tree (Mark 11:20-26)
Jesus explains the power and importance of faith — it is faith in God that gave him the power to curse the fig tree and make it wither overnight and similar faith on the disciples’ part will give them the power to work other wonders. They may even be able to move mountains, though that is arguably a bit of hyperbole on his part.

Jesus' Authority Questioned (Mark 11:27-33)
After Jesus explains to his disciples the meaning behind his cursing of the fig tree and cleansing of the Temple, the entire group returns yet again to Jerusalem (this is his third entry now) where they are met at the Temple by the highest authorities there. By this point they have gotten tired of his shenanigans and have decided to confront him and challenge the basis on which he has been saying and doing so many subversive things.

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