Mark's Passion Narrative

Mark 11

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The Triumphal Entry (11:1-11)

  • According to Mark, this is Jesus' first visit to Jerusalem. E.P Sanders says that it is not clear what is shows about Jesus
  • Jesus shows amazing foresight - he knows where the colt will be and this emphasizes that he is in complete control of the events around him.
  • Jewish custom dictated that only a king could ride an unridden colt - Jesus comes into Jerusalem in on an unridden colt, which suggests he is a kingly figure.
  • People shout 'Hosanna' at him, which means 'save now' - which is appropriate if the crowds are seeking a kingly delieverance. 
  • Garments were thrown on the ground for him, this has been shown previously, when King Jehu rode on a colt.
  • As the crowds are treating him as a kingly figure at the beginning of the week, why hadn't the Roman's taken action earlier?
  • Ironic - at the beginning of the week they're calling him a king, by the Friday he's crucified under the name of 'King of the Jews'
  • E.P Sanders thinks that the event would have been much smaller, only for those who were close to Jesus, and this is why the Roman's didn't act sooner on Jesus.
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The Fig Tree - part 1 (11:12-14)

  • This is the only negative miracle in the gospel.
  • The fig tree represents Israel, and was expected to bear fruit when the Messiah arrived. It's the failure to do so, even though it was not the season for figs, represents the failure of the Jews to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. This is preparing the readers for what to come.

The Cleansing of the Temple is sandwiched berween the curious stories about Jesus cursing a fig tree. Mark is trying to get the readers to make a link between the cleansing of the temple and the fig tree here.

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The 'cleansing' of the temple (11:14-19)

  • Pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem from afar would have to change their money to pay the temple tax and the dove sellers were there because the pilgrims would have to offer a perfect victim without any blemishes. 
  • 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations, and you have made it a den of robbers' - This quotation could have lead the Roman authority to consider Jesus a threat to their power.
  • Josephus suggests that the priests in the Temple 'operated men of violence' they led luxurious lifestyles and ignored the plight of the poor and perhaps used temple money to fund their extravagances. They had been considered inpure and polluting the temple with their very presence.
  • However this point can be contradicted, because Jesus wasn't very concerned about purity or Sabbath laws - he touches the sick.
  • Tom Wright thinks that as Jesus thought that the Temple, and in particular, the priests had become too involved with the Romans, and that he cleansed the temple, in order for him to be a replacement for it. Jesus - thought that as the Son of God, God dwelled within him and not the temple.
  • This shows a human Jesus - he is showing anger
  • E.P Sanders thinks that Jesus' actions in the temple were of form of acted prophecy - pointing towards the arrival of the kingdom of God.
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