Title: Governed by Fear
Text: Mark 11.27-12.12
Introduction: We’ll be in two texts this morning, so, keep your marker here in Mark 11.27 and use another marker to bookmark Psalm 118. We will look at other passages, too, but these two (Mark 11-12; Psalm 118; Isaiah 5) we will turn to.
In the passages before our text this morning, Jesus has ridden triumphantly into Jerusalem as the people shout out a phrase found in Psalm 118; you see it there in Mark 11.9-10; Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” As we covered a couple of weeks ago, this is huge! They’re acknowledging him to be the Savior, the promised Messiah, the King who is to come in the line of David. Turn with me to Psalm 118.25-26 and read the reference to their shouting.
The other gospels record the religious leaders consternation over this event. Jesus then enters the temple and surveys the grounds; all very anticlimactic. The next day Jesus curses a fruitless fig tree as an analogy of Israel and her fruitlessness. He then takes action by cleansing the temple of the moneychangers and teaching the people the purpose behind his actions. The Jews were supposed to be fruit bearing – they were supposed to be a light to the Gentiles, showing them God. Hence, he runs them out of the temple because they’ve made it into something that never was God’s design. The next morning, when Peter sees the withered fig tree, Jesus teaches them about what has happened and how they should pray concerning the temple. They should pray in faith because of God’s faithfulness. Peter astonishingly notes the withered fig tree and Jesus gives the glory to his father.
Following these events, Jesus enters triumphantly on Sunday. He surveys the temple that evening and heads back out of town. On Monday he cures the fig tree and passes judgment on the temple and their leaders. On Tuesday Peter notices the withered fig tree and Jesus stops and teaches his disciples about prayer and forgiveness with a focus on the faithfulness of God. They continue into Jerusalem to the temple where the religious leaders are waiting for him.
Right a way we see there is: A Problem.
I. A Problem (27-33)
exp.: rd v 27-28; It appears the chief priests and religious leaders have been waiting for Jesus to returned to the temple. They immediately confront him as they see him walking in the Temple area with two questions concerning his authority and his right to do what he had been doing (cleansing the temple; teaching about Isaiah’s prophecy). Jesus could have very easily said “from heaven.” But, he doesn’t. Instead, he positions himself as the teacher and they the students. He responds to their question by asking them a question in return. This is a form of teaching the rabbi’s used in that day. This question, I think, contains the answer they’re looking for. Rd v 30;
ill.: When I was a kid, my dad would teach me like this sometimes. I’d ask a question and he’d respond with a question. I’d answer his question and he would say, “Well, there you go. You have your answer.” And my answer to his question was the answer to my question. Like, I already knew the answer; he would just guide me to it. I had a mentor as a young man named Gary Patton. I remember Gary doing the same thing.
app.: Jesus doesn’t give these guys a question they cannot answer. No, he gives them a question they refuse to answer. Their refusal shows their rejection of him. The answer they’re looking for is in the correct answer to the question Jesus asks. His authority is from Heaven – the very throne of God! But, these guys wimp out. So, Jesus leaves them hanging and tells them he isn’t going to answer their question either.
t.s.: And then, in a subtle way, Jesus begins speaking to them in parables.
II. A Parable (27-30)
exp.: rd v 1; Now these religious leaders go to Isaiah 5 in their minds. They know that story well, I’m sure. Let’s read it together so that you might understand what is going through their minds; turn to Isaiah 5.
This story is a little different, but the parallels are obvious to them. see v 12; The story in Isaiah presents a master who creates a vineyard. He does everything necessary to provide for and protect it. He cares for it greatly. The problem is that the vineyard only produces wild grapes; nothing of value. In the story Jesus tells, it begins much the same way: there is a master who creates a vineyard. He does everything necessary to provide for and protect it. He cares for it greatly. But then this story takes a turn; this story is about those who’ve been left in charge of the vineyard. The tenants refuse to give the master his fruit. The master sends servants who the tenants reject. They beat them and mistreat them, and some they even kill.
The religious leaders know this story well. It is their story. Prophets were sent by God to Israel, but they were beaten and mistreated, and even killed. Now, the Master has sent his own Son, but him they will treat the same. He will be rejected, beaten and shamefully mistreated. He will suffer cruel punishment by those he has come to save. And they will kill him to keep what they see is theirs.
Rd v 8-9;
app.: now this alone should upset them; but look at what Jesus does next; he quotes from Scripture to give context to his parable.
t.s.: let’s look at that passage as quoted in v 10-11
III. A Passage (31-34)
exp.: Rd v 10a; Have you not read; the meaning here is more like: Surely you have read but never understood! And he quotes Psalm 118.22-23 pretty much verbatim; rd 118.22-28. Here is a prophecy of the coming King – God’s Messiah. Seeing the temple is the context of this entire passage, Jesus must be saying that although they are casting him aside, he will replace the old temple and become the cornerstone of a new temple.
app.: He must be saying that He is the ‘someone else’ the vineyard will be given to! And they are the one’s losing out! They observed it in the Temple, when he cleansed it. They’ve heard it in the parable being taught to them. Now they’re being given context. Jesus is the stone they’ve rejected and tossed to the side. Their rejection will be complete when they kill him. But what they cannot realize, even though Jesus has just told them, is that he will rise again and become the cornerstone to this new temple.
t.s.: You and I know this story, I’m guessing. At the very least you’re vaguely familiar with it. As I read through it again in preparation for this morning’s message I asked myself why…why did these guys behave like this? What is it about them that caused them to respond like this? I believe the answer is in v 12, as well as 11.18 and 11.32. rd 11.18; 32, 12.12; they let fear drive what they do and don’t do.
IV. Addendum: Fear (11.18; 32, 12.12)
exp.: This isn’t really one of the three points this morning, but really more of an addendum. What is it about fear that drives people?
- Fear of failure
- Fear of losing
- Losing money
- Position, prestige, or power.
I think when it comes down to it this idea of authority is a sub-theme or topic running through this passage. Obviously, the temple is our context. And, within this context we have the question of who is in charge. That’s why they confront him. They’re upset in 11.18 because of his actions in the temple, but they don’t approach him. They’re afraid of him. They wait until the morrow and approach him as he enters the Temple. They ask Jesus a straight forward question, but he turns the tables on them by asking them a question. They don’t answer him publicly though, because of their fear of the people. And here again, their fear directs their actions. They’ll finally come at night in a few days to do their dastardly deed. By approaching him, their statement is: We’re in charge here and you don’t have the right to do what you’re doing! But Jesus lays it out for them very clearly: You think you’re in charge, but you have failed time and again. I’m in charge. And I’m about to do some miraculous things!
Conclusion: throughout the rest Chapter 12 the religious leadership will do what they can to trip Jesus up. They will test him and quiz him and he will show them to be the frauds they are. And fear will rule them as will be demonstrated through their actions.
Application: So, what will we take home with us today?
- The Grace and Great Patience of the Father. How great the Father love for us; how vast beyond all measure. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Pet. 3.9
- The Responsibility to Fruitfulness. We have all been harsh judges of Israel and their failure. We’ve stood in judgment against Israel’s leaders. Yet, are we any different? I want to put a plug in for tonight’s evangelism training. It is from 5-7pm. We won’t go visiting tonight; it is only the orientation. Our 2nd cycle of training will start March 19th and go through the end of April. My dream is that everyone here would be able to stand up and articulate the Gospel to someone else.
Ill.: John Meador told the story of his staff, some 70 folks going to some evangelism training for a Metroplex-wide event. The teacher had come to show them how to share their faith and to clearly communicate the gospel. He asked them if there was any among the 70 who felt a fear of sharing the Gospel. None raised their hands. Silence. He was surprised. He asked again. No one raised a hand. He was like: You mean to tell me that no one here is afraid to tell someone else the Gospel if they needed to hear it? One lady raised her hand. He was like thank you…you’re afraid that you won’t be able to articulate the Gospel to a lost person. She said, “No, I just felt sorry for you.” A leader stood up and told the teacher there that the pastor had made sure everyone there was able to communicate the Gospel.
App.: Wow. What a great example for the rest of us pastors. If I were to ask you now: What are the four components of the Gospel message? Would any of you stand boldly and tell me? Well, if you’re curious, I’ll be sharing them on Sunday nights. If you’ve not signed up, see me after the service so I’ll know you’re planning to be there.
- Christ is vindicated as the Son of God and the new temple. This passage reminds us that Christ is vindicated through his suffering and resurrection! He is cast aside by these builders, but now has become the cornerstone – chosen by the Father for the New Temple. Eph 2.21f teaches us that we, the believers, are this new temple. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
- Judgment awaits those who reject Christ. While Application point #1 is true, that patience will one day run out. And, for those who’ve rejected Christ, judgment awaits. I urge you today, if you’ve never received Christ as Lord, let today be the day.
Here’s the Gospel story in a nutshell. Let me illustrate it this way.
Offense of Sin
Sufficiency of Christ