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                          "THE GOSPEL OF MARK"

                    Cursing And Cleansing (11:12-19)


1. In our previous study, we saw where Jesus and His disciples arrived
   in Jerusalem...
   a. Together with a large crowd coming to observe the Passover week
   b. With the first day of their visit (Sunday) beginning with the
      triumphal entry and ending with a quick visit to the temple - Mk

2. On the next day (Monday), two things occur which may seem out of
   character for Jesus...
   a. The cursing of the fig tree - Mk 11:12-14
   b. The cleansing of the temple - Mk 11:15-19

[The two may be related, so letís consider them together beginning


      1. Having spent the night in Bethany, Jesus and His disciples make
         their way back toward Jerusalem - Mk 11:11-12
      2. Hungry, Jesus sees a fig tree with leaves from a distance and
         approaches to see if there is anything on it - Mk 11:12-13
      3. There is nothing but leaves, Mark noting that it was not the
         season for figs - Mark 11:13
      4. In response, Jesus says to the tree, "Let no one eat fruit from
         you ever again" - Mk 11:14
      5. Mark commented that it was heard by His disciples - Mk 11:14

      1. In Palestine fig trees produced crops of small edible buds in
         March followed by the appearance of large green leaves in early
         April. - Bible Knowledge Commentary
         a. This early green "fruit" (buds) was common food for local
            peasants - ibid.
         b. An absence of these buds despite the treeís green foliage
            promising their presence indicated it would bear no fruit
            that year - ibid.
         c. Thus this fig tree gave the appearance of offering edible
            food, but did not
      2. The way in which Mark organizes his material in these verses
         (fig tree/cleansing of temple/fig tree) suggests a connection
         between the cleansing of the temple and the cursing of the fig
         tree - ESV Study Bible
      4. The incident of the fig tree both interprets the cleansing of
         the temple and is interpreted by the latter incident - New
         International Biblical Commentary (NIBC)
         a. Jesusí disappointment with the fig tree is like his
            disappointment with Israel and the temple, her chief shrine
            - ibid.
         b. His judgment pronounced upon the tree is like the threat of
            Godís judgment soon to fall upon the city of Jerusalem,
            which Jesusí words and actions in Mk 11:15-19 prefigure
            - ibid.
      5. The cursing of the tree (v. 14) is known as a prophetic
         sign-act, familiar to readers of the OT, an action in which a
         prophet demonstrates symbolically his message (e.g., Isa 20:1-6;
         Jer 13:1-11; 19:1-13; Ezek 4:1-15) - NIBC
      6. The act is not to be taken simply as a rash act of anger, but
         as a solemn prophetic word pronounced for the benefit of the
         disciples (and for the readers) - ibid.

[Seeing that the two events (the cursing of the fig tree and the
cleansing of the temple) appear related, letís now look more closely


      1. Jesus returns to Jerusalem and enters the temple - Mk 11:15-16
         a. Driving out those who bought and sold in the temple
         b. Overturning the tables of the money changers, the seats of
            those who sold doves
         c. Not allowing any to carry wares through the temple
      2. He teaches in the temple - Mk 11:17-18
         a. "Is it not written, ĎMy house shall be called a house of
            prayer for all nationsí ? But you have made it a Ďden of
            thieves.í" - cf. 1Ki 8:41-43; Isa 56:7
         b. The scribes and chief priests heard this and wanted to kill
         c. They feared Him, for all the people were astonished at His
      3. At evening, He left the city, spending the night on Mt. Olivet
         - cf. Lk 21:37

      1. The "temple" was the court of the Gentiles, an outer court
         where non-Jews were permitted
         a. Tables were set up to enable pilgrims to change their
            respective currencies into coins for the annual temple tax,
            as well as to purchase pigeons, lambs, oil, salt, etc., for
            various sin and thanksgiving sacrifices - ESV Study Bible
         b. The business activity turns the house of prayer into a den
            of robbers (Jer 7:11); Gentiles in particular were hindered
            by the temple commerce in the outer court - ibid.
      2. This may have been the second time Jesus cleansed the temple
         a. John records a similar incident at the beginning of Jesusí
            ministry - Jn 2:13-17
         b. Many commentators think it happened only once; but with
            Jesusí zeal for His Fatherís house, there is good reason to
            believe He did it twice
         c. The cleansing of the temple may have been to fulfill
            prophecy - Mal 3:1-3
      3. Was the act of cleansing the temple "out of character" for
         Jesus?  No!
         a. Jesus had been angry before, and would be again soon - cf.
            Mk 3:5; Mt 23:13-36
         b. Jesus was filled with righteous indignation, consistent with
            the qualities of deity - cf. Ro 2:4-6; 2Th 1:7-9
      4. It may helpful to remember...
         a. When it came to personal affront, Jesus bore it meekly - cf.
            Isa 53:7; 1Pe 2:23
         b. But when God or His temple were maligned, especially by
            hardhearted and self-righteous religious leaders, then
            Jesus acted with righteous indignation in defense of Godís
         c. We tend to defend selves rather than God, displaying
            self-righteous indignation


1. The moral and religious depravity of the religious leaders prompted
   Jesusí actions

2. Both the cursing of the fig tree and the cleansing of the temple were
   prophetic sign acts that foretold the impending judgment upon the
   nation of Israel that would occur with the destruction of Jerusalem
   (fulfilled in 70 AD) - cf. Mk 13:1-2
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