Tim Tebow hosts an international event called Night to Shine on the Friday before Valentine’s day every year. It is a grand prom night for people with special needs, and thousands of volunteers come together to make this night possible. If you’ve never heard of the event before, just check this video out for some inspiration.
Last Friday night, I had the opportunity to be the date of one of the girls with special needs who had been invited to the prom. My date was so excited about the night. She had a gorgeous dress on, and had spent “12 hours in rollers” to achieve beautiful curls for the night. It was her first prom experience, and I was overjoyed that I would get to share this experience with her.
We meet for the first time and say goodbye to her parents for the night. I take her out in the hallway for a corsage. After we got her corsage, we walked outside to limousines and vintage cars that were waiting to drive us around the block to a long red carpet at the entrance of the church.
We wait patiently until we see a black 1929 Chevrolet Coupe.
This was the car my date wanted to ride in. On the way around the block, my date spots the red carpet. There were at least fifty people crowded around the red carpet with pom poms and cheering loudly for the people arriving.
“Oh, I really love when people cheer for me!” my date enthusiastically exclaims.
“Well just get ready,”I say, “because now it’s your turn!”
And with that, an attendant opens the car door, and we step out onto the red carpet. I escort her down the red carpet to the cheers, smiles, and waves of many volunteers whose sole job is to make my date feel totally loved and appreciated. This was all she needed to ensure an awesome evening of eating, dancing, and singing karaoke.
Grand Entrances often precede Big Events.
Jesus makes a grand entrance into the city of Jerusalem for Passover, but it’s not the entrance anyone was expecting. It’s clear that Jesus had planned to enter Jerusalem in a special way because he directs his disciples to go find a donkey for him to ride as he enters.
“Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.” Mark 11:2-3.
We know from other gospels that this isn’t the first time Jesus has entered Jerusalem. He has been here before celebrating other feasts and festivals over the course of his three-year ministry. It is likely that Jesus prearranged getting a donkey from someone for this trip the last time he was in Jerusalem. It seems very likely that he had a conversation with someone in the village prior to this trip.
I can just imagine the scene now.
A year prior, Jesus is walking along in a small town outside of Jerusalem and he passes by a young family working in their field. They have livestock in pens: sheep, chickens, and a few young donkeys. A young man is hard at work, sweat pouring from his brow and he doesn’t notice Jesus patting one of his donkeys.
“Excuse me sir, what’s this fellows name?” Jesus asks, patting the donkey.
The young man looks up irritated to be interrupted from his work but realizes that he is looking at the very famous healer-caster-out-of-demons Rabbi named Jesus. It’s the Rabbi that everyone has been talking about for months.
“K-Kk-Kuni.” the young man stutters out. “The donkey’s name is Kuni, Rabbi.”
“Kuni. I like that name. Do you suppose, in a year’s time, I might could borrow him for a day? You see i’ll be coming back, and will need a donkey for an afternoon. Could you spare him?” Jesus asks.
“Well yes, of course, Rabbi!” The young man exclaims, “you can borrow him anytime!”
And so Jesus works out the time and date with the young man. And of course the young man is incredulous for having spoken to the famous Rabbi over his small, stubborn little donkey named Kuni.
Now, of course the bible doesn’t tell us this happened, and i’m only speculating over how Jesus might have arranged the details of this Donkey-Borrow. Either way, the disciples go and find Jesus a donkey to ride on as he enters Jerusalem just like he asked them to.
Although the bible doesn’t tell us how Jesus borrowing the donkey came to be, the Old Testament scriptures does say something about a man riding into Jerusalem on a donkey.
Who would come to Jerusalem on a donkey?
It would be a King.
And not only would this King come to Jerusalem riding on a donkey, but it would be on the colt of a donkey, or a young donkey, on which no one had ever ridden.
I do not believe that Jesus’ disciples understood what they were doing when they went to find this colt of a donkey, but Jesus himself knew what the scriptures said about this moment. And anyone who knew the scriptures well, (like the pharisees and teachers of the law) would have instantly recalled this particular messianic prophecy when they saw Jesus enter Jerusalem on the back of a young donkey.
Jesus disciples go and find the colt just as he had told them, and they bring the donkey to Jesus. They put their coats on the donkey’s back, and Jesus hops up onto the donkey to ride into the city. The crowds go crazy. They take off their coats and lay them on the ground. There were many people who went before Jesus and many who followed behind. They cut palm branches from the field and wave them and shout.
This crowd is exuberant and thrilled to see Jesus. Jesus has established himself as a Man of great authority and power, and the Israelite people are starting to wonder if this man could be the one who saves them from Roman oppression. Could this Rabbi Jesus, who has cast out demons and raised people from the dead, Could this man really be the son of God?
The day grows late. Jesus visits the temple courts briefly, and then retires for the night in Bethany with his disciples.
The next day is one of the most interesting stories we have of Jesus. He goes back to the temple and observes all the preparations for Passover. There are merchants there selling the lambs that each family would need to celebrate the Passover. There are money changers; men who would convert each person’s money into “temple currency.” You were not permitted to buy anything in the temple unless a special currency was used. These money changers often charged a ridiculous fee to convert people’s money into the temple currency. It was quite profitable to be a money changer at the time. Jesus sees all of this, and he
“began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple.” Mark 11:15-16
All of the market activity in the temple aroused Jesus anger. All of the flurry and humdrum of Passover preparation is suddenly halted and all of the money-making schemes that go along with it.
Jesus declares to all of the people there, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”
This is a quotation from two old testament passages. This quote comes from Jeremiah 7:11 and Isaiah 56:7. In both passages, God is talking to the people of Israel in reference to their temple. God is calling his people to change their ways, seek and administer justice, and follow him wholeheartedly.
Jesus quotes these passages so the crowds won’t miss it. Jesus sees all of the people’s so-called religious activity for what it is: profitable business for some, taking advantage of the poor, and empty, meaningless tradition. Those in the temple were not preparing for Passover to remember all that the Lord had done for them; they were only there because it had always been done.
Jesus condemns this behavior, and does not allow it to continue. At this, of course, the religious leaders of the day (Pharisees, Scribes, and teachers of the Law) become irate. We’ve known now for several chapters that these religious leaders do not approve of Jesus, but now the text tells us that they “were seeking a way to destroy him” (Mark 11:18). The crowds were astonished by all that Jesus was doing and teaching, and I’m sure his disciples were equally astonished.
Jesus was not only overturning the tables of the money changers; he was turning their very world, culture, and religion upside down.
As you read Mark Chapter 11,
Look up the Old Testament Scriptures
Up until now, Mark has only mentioned a scripture from the book of Isaiah in reference to John the Baptist’s ministry. Upon Jesus entry into Jerusalem for this holy week, Mark begins employing many old testament scriptures to explain what Jesus was doing. Mark has made the claim that Jesus is the promised messiah and son of God by showing us all the miraculous things Jesus could do. Jesus has proved his authority and power, but now Mark shows us that Jesus also fulfills all of the messianic prophecies foretold about him in the Old Testament. In this chapter alone, Mark pulls from Zechariah 9:9, Psalm 118:19-29, Malachi 3:1-3, Isaiah 56:7, and Jeremiah 7:11. I would encourage you to take a few moments and read these chapters of scripture to see how Jesus uses them or fulfills them by what he is doing.
Notice the Negative Miracle
There is one miracle in Jesus life that does not serve to help or heal someone, and it occurs right here in chapter 11. Jesus curses a fig tree, and the fig tree will never again bear fruit. Why did Jesus do this now, and what were his disciples supposed to learn from it? Ponder this question in relation to what Jesus does in the temple.
Remember to Look up Bible-y Words
If you are a first-time reader, there are many things in this chapter that need some historical context. (Like Passover.) What is Passover? Why did Israel celebrate it? What was the importance of the temple? Take some time to look up the historical context, and if you have any questions, feel free to contact me with your questions!
And Finally, Mark Chapter 11
Mark 11 English Standard Version (ESV)
The Triumphal Entry
11 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus[a] sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” 4 And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. 5 And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. 7 And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. 8 And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. 9 And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “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!”
11 And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.
Jesus Curses the Fig Tree
12 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry.13 And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.
Jesus Cleanses the Temple
15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” 18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. 19 And when evening came they[b] went out of the city.
The Lesson from the Withered Fig Tree
20 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21 And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” 22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received[c] it, and it will be yours. 25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”[d]
The Authority of Jesus Challenged
27 And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him,28 and they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?” 29 Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. 30 Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.” 31 And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’32 But shall we say, ‘From man’?”—they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. 33 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”