Title: The Bigger Picture
Text: Mark 11.1-11
Introduction: It has been a while since we last looked at Mark, so let me begin with a little reminder of our outline. Mark is set up in three movements. Chapter 11, verse 1 begins the 3rd movement. In part one, the early ministry of Christ was covered (1.1-8.21). From 8.22 to now the topic has focused in on Christ making his way to Jerusalem. He has been very forthright with his disciples in these chapters about his purpose and intent. Listen to 10.33-34 – “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. 34 And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.” Here in Chapter 11 Jesus arrives at Jerusalem. Verse 1 begins, Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives…so Jesus has arrived.
I think back to the experience of the transfiguration on the mountain with his three closest disciples. He spoke with Elijah and Moses. We don’t know what was said, but it got the job done. That picture, of Christ up there on the mountain with those two superheroes of the faith, shows us God’s Son – beloved of the Father and worthy of our obedience. “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” He is the promised one – the Messiah of God. Peter even recognized and confessed it.
And now, after walking up that long hill from Jericho to Jerusalem, Jesus has only days to live. In less than a week, he will be dead. He will be crucified on a cross and the dreams of the disciples and those who followed him will be crushed. Peter will weep over his failure. The disciples will scatter like fish at the site of a shark. Jesus will be hung between two thieves and breathe his last. Two secret admirers will come and take his body. They will hastily prepare it for burial and they will bury his body in one of their tombs.
Surely this isn’t on their minds. But, it must be on his. This section is called the Messiah’s Suffering. Mainly, because he won’t just die for the sins of man – He will be punished and suffer greatly in our stead. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God…
This passage is another miraculous event and it is just another day. It begins with
- Instructions for some of the unnamed disciples as they prepare to enter Jerusalem. It moves to …
- The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem with a parade of admirers and those hopeful that the King has now arrived.
- And it will conclude a very anti-climactic scene: Jesus, walking around the Temple grounds and it being basically empty, because the hour was late and the crowds had dissipated. This anti-climactic scene will be the calm before the storm.
Let’s look a little closer to these three parts of the opening scene – 1st at
I. The Instructions (1-6)
exp.: this 1st phrase tells us that he has arrived; remember, he’s been on the way to Jerusalem for some time. The phrase has been used as a reminder of the task at hand. Rd v 1b; Jesus sent; the Gk word for which we get Apostle; they were commissioned with a task; rd v 2;
- Enter into a specific village – probably Bethphage or Bethany, but it doesn’t really matter;
- At that entrance, there is a specific foal; this word is generally used with horses; however, it was common to use that title for donkeys and other animals. It is the same in English. We use words for certain animals interchangeably. We know this is the foal of a donkey because the other gospels are specific in their terminology. But there is more: Mark doesn’t say this, but his readers in the 1st century know some things we don’t. More on that in a moment. Notice the specifics from the Messiah here – not just a colt, but one that has never been ridden – on which no man has ever sat. More on that in a moment.
- Untie it
- Bring it
Now, that would have been pretty cool if that were all that happened. Jesus would have told them this. They would have found it that way. Period. But there is more. Rd v 3;
- See that 1st word if? Often times in English, if is used to show potential or that something is possible (If it rains, you might want to have your umbrella with you). However, this is a bit different. This word in the original language shows us that something is probably going to happen – not that it might, but rather you should expect it. In other words, you should expect someone to ask you what you’re doing. Simply tell them: ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’ ”
The question often arises, who is ‘Lord?’ in this sentence: God, Jesus or the owner? Lord, can also mean master or sir. Well, Luke clues us in that the person here who speaks is indeed the owner – so it is’t them. It must be in reference to the Lord, Jesus.
Rd v 4; No surprises here; rd v 5-6; again, no surprises; things go as Jesus told them.
app.: So the guys complete the mission they’re sent on and they bring the colt back to their Master.
t.s.: He is now going to ride this beast of burden (little fellow as he is) into the city; This scene is most famously called:
II. The Triumphal Entry (7-10)
exp.: rd v 7-10; Why did they do this? Why this reaction? Well, for Mark’s readers, they recognize something amazing is happening! Note the allusions to Christ’s Kingship.
- This is the fulfillment of the promise, the prophecy in Zechariah. Zechariah 9.9 – 9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. They’ve been watching and waiting for this moment. Mark wants us, his readers to identify that this man on this donkey is indeed the promised Messiah of God.
- 2ndly, we saw it in relation to Solomon. When it looked like an older brother was trying to make himself king, David ordered Solomon to be taken and anointed as King and to ride his mule with people shouting praise. That of course, was before the prophecy in Zechariah, but it casts a light – so to speak – upon our story and gives us flavor for what this King of Israel will do. Solomon is the son of David. Jesus is the Son of David. The anointing, by the way, will come in 14.3.
- There is another allusion here from the OT. Maybe. I’m not sure, but it looks that way. Genesis. 49.9:
9 Judah is a lion’s cub;
from the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He stooped down; he crouched as a lion
and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?
10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until tribute comes to him;
and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
11 Binding his foal to the vine
and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,
he has washed his garments in wine
and his vesture in the blood of grapes.
- One more: there is an ancient practice known as angaria (an-gar-ee-uh). This is the power a king has to take from his people what he needs, when he needs it. Samuel warned the people of Israel when they asked for a king: 10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. 11 He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. 12 And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15 He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves.” Is this an allusion to Christ’s Kingly Authority? I don’t know for sure, but it is something to think of.
app.: Here’s where I’m going with this: Mark wants us to see that Christ is the promised, coming King. There is no need for the Messianic Secret anymore. The secret is out. He da man! Not only do Mark’s readers discern this, but the people in the story do, too. Throwing out their palm branches and their coats – giving Jesus the red carpet treatment – celebrating Christ coming – the King has arrived! No wonder the religious leaders get so upset with Jesus.
exp.: What a day it was! The people gather and create this – parade, this fanfare for the one they think is coming into Jerusalem to be King. He is, but not like they’re expecting.
I wonder what it was it was like for the disciples as they walked along the parade route with Jesus on the colt. The Scripture says that there were people in front of him and people behind him. rd v 9a; I wonder how the disciples are taking this all in as the people shout (rd v 9b-10); Hosanna! Translated it reads Save, we pray! Truer words were never spoken! He saves! By this time in history, Hosanna had become a common shout of praise. But the rest of this verse cries out that they knew! Here is the Son of David…echoing Blind Bartimaeus’ cry at the end of chapter 10.
Transition: Things have gone as planned – just as Jesus and the prophets have foretold. But look what happens in v 11; I call this part:
III. The Calm Before the Storm (11)
exp.: rd v 11; what? All that and he just walks around looking at the Temple area like some tourist? What did he come to do? Wasn’t he supposed to start…doing something? The other Gospels jump right into the questioning by the religious leaders and throwing out the moneychangers. There is the turning over of the tables and making a whip and cracking it like Indiana Jones. No! None of that! He just walks around, taking it all in. The implication here is that it is late and the people have all retreated to their homes and places of lodging.
ill.: Most people come here to church and there are folks here. It is rare that they come and find this place empty. It is odd, when we’ve been in this place and so much has been going on, and everyone leaves. There is only silence and presence of items demonstrating that people were here and now they’re not. It is quiet; peaceful, yet lonely. No, Jesus isn’t some spectator or tourist. He’s been here before. No, this is a special moment.
ill.: If Jesus had walked the 18 or so miles uphill to Jerusalem from Jericho, the hour would indeed be late. J.T France, as quoted in the Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament of Mark: What happens in the morning will not be a spontaneous act of outrage, but a planned demonstration.
app.: it is quiet, but it is the calm before the storm. I picture the unkept and untidy rooms and halls of a place that had just hours before been packed with people and activity. There is nothing left except the wind that blows gently and turns over some unwanted, discarded trash. Maybe there is a Levite or two finishing up their cleaning and preparation for the morrow. But in this place, there is silence. I assume it is a time of contemplation and thought.
t.s.: This short passage is so like life.
Conclusion: We walk with the Master and he summons us to his service. He knows all about what we’re doing and what he is doing through us – even if we don’t see it. In the midst of our service there is so much uncertainty – so much we know nothing about. And yet, we serve. We give. Unknown to us is the big story – the bigger picture. There are times of work – times of celebration – and times of calm, peaceful existence. And through it all, God is at work. In our story here, God is bringing the work of Salvation to a close. In just a few days Jesus will say: it is finished. He will exhale and surrender his body to death.
Application: I’m not sure where you are at this point in life. For GLYW folks, the day is probably just a moment to breathe. Last night you probably experienced the lull of the crowd dissipating into the night and the remnants of the papers and trash left behind. Maybe you’re in awe of what God has done. Maybe, this morning, there are folks here who are in work mode – you’re deeply involved in a ministry task. Maybe you’re by chance, celebrating success. The crowds have been cheering and life appears to be absolutely wonderful.
Wherever you are, don’t miss what Mark is teaching us. The place you find yourself is but a dot on the line of time. There is a bigger story line unfolding just out of sight. God is at work bringing Glory to Himself.