Sunday, March 19, 2006

Matt's Messages - King Jesus

“King Jesus”
March 19, 2006
Mark 11:1-12:12

We are beginning the last major section of the Gospel of Mark–which takes place in and around the holy city of Jerusalem. According to the other gospels, Jesus has been to Jerusalem before, but Mark has not recorded any of those other visits. This is THE visit to Jerusalem as far as Mark is concerned. Jesus has been “on the way” to Jerusalem for several chapters, and now He has arrived.

And He confronts His fate head on.

One third of the entire Gospel of Mark is devoted to this last week of Jesus’ ministry. Many have remarked rightly that “the gospels are ‘passion stories’ with long introductions.” Everything has been leading up to this.

The last 10 chapters have been leading up to the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem and the confrontation He is going to have with the Jewish Religious Leaders.

This confrontation is not an accident. This confrontation is a deliberate choice of Jesus. Jesus has been deliberately heading for Jerusalem. He has deliberately set His face towards His fate.

And now, on what we call “Palm Sunday”, Jesus deliberately makes His entrance in a dramatic fashion.

Now, Jesus is no longer concerned with keeping His identity a secret. No longer is He telling people “shhhh.”

Now, Jesus is staging a dramatic entrance that signals that He is the King. “King Jesus.” Mark chapter 11, verse 1.

But first, let’s pray. [prayer]

Verse 1.

“As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘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.”

King Jesus sends two of His followers on a mission. He has requisitioned a donkey colt. He knows exactly where it will be. We don’t know how. Probably this is meant to show His sovereign knowledge. And He has an answer in case there are any questions about this kingly requisition. V.3

“If anyone asks you, 'Why are you doing this?' tell him, 'The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.'’” The “Lord” needs it. Another nod towards his Kingship. V.4

“They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, [just like He said] some people standing there asked, ‘What are you doing, untying that colt?’ They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go.”

“When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. [The first and only time in the gospels we are shown Jesus riding.] Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, ‘Hosanna!’ [Save!] ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!’ ‘Hosanna in the highest!’”

What is Jesus saying by riding in like this?

According to the other gospels, Zechariah 9:9 predicted this very moment.

“Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

Jesus is presenting Himself to Jerusalem as the Messiah.

This is King Jesus! The King of Israel has come.

And some recognize Him as King–probably not many Jerusalemites, more likely Galileans who were pilgrims coming into the city for the big Passover festival. But some did recognize Him as King Jesus. Jesus Messiah. Jesus the Christ.

And where did King Jesus go when He came into Jerusalem?

He went straight for the temple. V.11

“Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.”


That was anticlimactic, wasn’t it? Here Jesus rides into town fulfilling Old Testament prophecy. He is hailed as the Messiah by some of the common people.

He goes to the temple, looks around, and then goes back to Bethany.

That’s it?!

Sometimes we call this event, “The Triumphal Entry.”

But it sure didn’t end with a triumphant bang!

The key to understanding this, I think, is to think a little about how Jesus looked around at the temple.

Do you think that Jesus looked around like a tourist? Being wowed by Herod’s big architecture? Probably not.

Do you think that Jesus looked around like a spy? Scouting out the territory before starting the invasion? That’s probably a little more like it, but not quite right.

I think that Jesus in v.11 “looked around at everything” like a King! Like the owner of the temple, not just a visitor.

He was surveying what was happening on His property.

The Heavenly King has just marched into town and is now inspecting what should be His earthly headquarters. Which should have been being carefully managed by His dutiful followers.

But the King has found something drastically different. A temple that is all corrupt.

And King Jesus intends to do something about it the next day. V.12

“The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. [Now, don’t think that the subject has changed. Jesus is heading into town on Monday to do something dramatic about the state of the temple that He saw Sunday night. And this part of the story is a symbolic demonstration of what Jesus is planning to do. V.13] Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again.’ And his disciples heard him say it.”

Now, remember, this is not a random story. Jesus is going somewhere with this. And you need to know that the fig tree was a regular symbol in the Old Testament for the people of Israel. Jesus saw that a fig tree was in full leaf (a little ahead of its season), and where there are leaves there should be figs (even if these would have been a little premature and chewy).

But this fig tree was deceptive. It looked healthy and fruitful ahead of its time, but it was really barren. It was really worthless.

It looked lively, but it was actually full of death.

Now, remember where King Jesus is headed. V.15

“On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, ‘Is it not written: ‘'My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it 'a den of robbers.'’ The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.”

Does this temple look like a healthy fig tree in full leaf?

Sure! It’s bustling with people. There are all kinds of people everywhere. The Court of the Gentiles (the outer court) had become something of a sacrificial shopping center and financial exchange. And the merchants of Jerusalem had begun to use it as a short-cut for getting merchandise from one end of town to the other.

This place was hopping. And the Jewish leaders were making a bundle for themselves and for the temple business along the way. It was a “win-win” for everyone.

And it was a total perversion of God’s intent for the temple!

What should have been a house of prayer for all nations (Isa 56:7) had become a den of robbers (Jer 7:11). The court of Gentiles should have been a quiet place of devotion to God for those who are being attracted to God by the covenant community.

Instead, it had become a commercial nightmare that had corrupted God’s holy intention for the temple.

And King Jesus was now here to say so.

He was fulfilling Malachi chapter 3, verses 1-3.

“See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. [John the Baptist] Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the LORD Almighty. But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver.”

He caused quite a stir, didn’t He?

Some scholars estimate that the Court of the Gentiles in Jesus’ time could have accommodated about 75,000 people on a busy day.

Jesus brought all of that to a halt on Monday of Passion Week.

And while He did, He taught the crowds, and they were amazed at His teachings.

And this scared the Jewish Religious Leaders stiff. V.18 again.

“The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.”

They have not recognized and received their King. Instead, they hope to kill Him. V.19 “When evening came, they went out of the city.”

Now, remember the fig tree? That story isn’t over yet. What do you think Mark is saying that Jesus was symbolizing by cursing the fig tree?

He is predicting the judgment due Israel for the sinful mismanagement of her leaders.

V.20 “In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!’”

Just like He said. The fig tree looked healthy like the temple did. But it was deceptive and was barren and unfruitful. And basically dead.

And Jesus brought judgment upon it, as He will upon the temple and the leaders of Israel.

This is the last miracle in the Gospel of Mark except for the Resurrection.

And it is a miracle, not of healing, but of destruction and judgment.

Failure to receive Jesus as rightful King will result in destruction.

Total destruction: “Withered from the roots.”

But that does not have to be our fate. Jesus calls us to believe. V.22

“‘Have faith in God,’ Jesus answered. ‘I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.’”

Jesus answers Peter’s comment about the fig tree with a call to faith: “Have faith in God.”

Don’t trust yourself. Don’t trust the temple thieves. Don’t put your trust where it will be disappointed.

Put your trust in God.


I don’t mean trust in your prayer. I mean while praying TRUST.

King Jesus calls us to believe.

He says something really exaggerated to make His point.

“I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.”

Now, I don’t think that we are to literally command mountains to fly into the sea. I can’t see how that would be praying along the lines of God’s will as we’re told elsewhere to pray.

But Jesus uses the tossing of “this mountain” which might be the towering Mount of Olives as an illustration of how powerful our prayer answering God is.

But He answers prayers of faith not prayers of unbelief.

King Jesus teaches us to trust while praying. V.24

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Now, this can be taken out of its New Testament context and made into a kind of twisting God’s arm to do something for us if we can muster up enough faith.

But that’s presumption and idolatry, not faith.

However, we can’t explain away this passage so that it loses its prophetic force.

Jesus is saying that when we pray in faith, we need to be thankful in advance for God’s powerful, wise, and good answer in His perfect timing.

We need to pray in faith that God is going to answer our prayers.

I just came off of a week long intensive doctoral study of the theology of prayer.

And this was one of the things we talked about.

You can fall into a ditch on either side of this teaching.

One ditch is the ditch of unbelief. “Oh, I don’t think that Jesus really means that we should believe that we have received it.” That’s just presumption.

But it’s what He said. And it’s what John says in 1 John 5.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him.”

We need to be serious about believing when we pray.

Do you pray with faith?

But the opposite ditch is possible, too. That’s the ditch of presumption. Thinking that if we just work up enough faith then God will have to do what we have asked.

But that makes God a “genie in a bottle” and not the Sovereign Lord of the universe (who loves to answer prayer).

So we must learn to pray according “to God’s will” and put our full faith and trust in Him as we do.

Do you pray with faith? What are you praying for right now with faith?

King Jesus teaches us to trust while praying.


While praying. V.25

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Forgiveness is tied to effectiveness in prayer.

Our forgiveness is tied to our being forgiving.

It is tied that way at the end of the “Lord’s Prayer” as well.

“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.' For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:12-15)

Our forgiveness is tied to our being forgiving.

I think that’s because, fundamentally, our forgiveness is supposed to change us and make us forgiving people.

Paul says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

And relationally, we can’t consider ourselves forgiven unless we have been released enough to release others in forgiveness.

My prayer class last week went into this, as well. My professor says this, “We are commanded to forgive. Harboring an unforgiving spirit is sin. And God does not hear those who cherish sin (Ps 66:18). It all goes back to the relationship between prayer and obedience. If we obey, we grow to know the mind of God and we will begin to pray according to his will. Such prayers are answered. But if we do not forgive, we do not obey and we grow distant from God. We will thus have trouble knowing his will and praying according to it” (The God Who Hears by W. Bingham Hunter, pg.148).

Is there someone you are bitter towards?

Someone you haven’t forgiven?

Someone who has sinned against you and you are harboring animosity towards them?

King Jesus expects you to forgive.

That doesn’t always mean that the relationship can go back to being what it was.

It sometimes doesn’t even mean that the relationship can be reconciled, if the other person isn’t repentant.

But it does mean that you can release bitterness in your heart and release the debt that person owes you in your heart. It means that you can forgive them and be ready to reconcile.

And your prayers will be answered.

King Jesus expects us to forgive others. Because He has forgiven us!

And because He is King.

The Jewish Religious Leaders weren’t so sure that He was the King. They were not convinced of His authority. V.27

“They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts [He’s back again, looking for trouble], the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him [These folks make up the Sanhedrin, the guys in charge and they come looking for trouble, too. V.28] ‘By what authority are you doing these things?’ they asked. ‘And who gave you authority to do this?’ [That was quite a demonstration you did yesterday in the temple. Where is your authorization? Remember, the authority of Jesus has been a big issue throughout the Gospel of Mark. And Jesus, as usual, answers a question with a question. V.29] Jesus replied, ‘I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John's baptism–was it from heaven, or from men? Tell me!’”

Jesus is both answering and refusing to answer the question.

If they say John’s baptism was from God, then Jesus’ authority is from God because that’s what God said when John baptized Him. But if they won’t acknowledge that, then they won’t get an answer.

Of course, all they’re concerned about is their power. V.31

“They discussed it among themselves and said, ‘If we say, 'From heaven,' he will ask, 'Then why didn't you believe him?' But if we say, 'From men'....’ (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.) So they answered Jesus, ‘We don't know.’ Jesus said, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.’”

Notice again how the fear of man will control you. Three times in these two chapters the leaders are shown to be scared of the people. Jesus never is.

And then Jesus teaches a parable that explicitly makes the point that this entire passage so far has been making. Chapter 12, verse 1.

“He then began to speak to them in parables: ‘A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. [Can you guess who the man is? Can you guess who the farmers are? V.2] At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed.”

“‘He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, 'They will respect my son.' ‘But the tenants said to one another, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.' So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. ‘What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”

“Haven't you read this scripture: ‘'The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?’ Then they looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away.”

God has a vineyard called “Israel” that was blessed with the Law. And He had put the Jews in charge of Israel like the tenants in Jesus’ story. “One would have expected that [they] would be extremely grateful and loyal to the one who has set them up in this way. But that isn’t the case.” (From “The King Comes Home” by Russell Muilenburg, unpublished sermon)

God sent prophets to call Israel to account. But they were mistreated: Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Amos, John the Baptist.

So, God sent His only Son to the vineyard.

To the holy city.
To the leafy fig tree.
To the busy temple.

But the tenants, Jesus predicts, said, “Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.”

The Cross of Friday is predicted on Tuesday right in the face of the Jewish Leaders.

And the result of the Cross?

‘What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”

Judgement is coming. A storm is brewing.

The temple will be torn down.
The fig tree will be withered from the roots.
Destruction will come for those who do not recognize Jesus as the Rightful King.

And King Jesus will be the capstone.

“The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”


He is King Jesus!

He is the Son of the Vineyard Owner.

He is the Messiah riding on the donkey.

He is the Lord of the Temple.

He is the One with Authority from Heaven.

He is King Jesus.

And we need to recognize that.

If you have not recognized Jesus as your King, you are in danger.

The Jewish Leaders thought they were in charge, but they were only stewards, only managers of Israel. And they had sinfully mismanaged Israel.

And when God sent His Son to collect the rent, they killed Him.

And there was Hell to pay.

If you have not recognized Jesus as your King, you are in danger.

He is inviting you right now to enjoy total amnesty.

He is inviting you right now to lay down your weapons and come out with your hands up before Him.

He is inviting you right now to surrender your life to His Lordship.

He invites you to submit to His Kingship.

King Jesus requires you to submit to His authority.

The most amazing thing in the world is that He laid down His life for you to surrender yours to Him.

The Cross is not just the last straw that brought judgment on those who rejected the Messiah.

The Cross is also the way that Messiah-killing people like you and me can be forgiven and reconciled to the Owner of the Vineyard and included in His people!

King Jesus requires you to submit to His authority.

But you get to do it by grace!

If you have not recognized Jesus as your King, you are in danger.

He is inviting you to surrender yourself today.

If you have recognized Jesus as your King, you need to live like it.

John the Baptist called that “produc[ing] fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8).

We need to live as if Jesus was our King (because He is).

So many Christians by name do not live as Christians by life-style.

There is a lack of Lordship of in their lives.

But King Jesus requires us to submit to His authority.

What He says goes.
What He wants is what we do.
What He puts in His Bible is what we believe.

If Jesus is really is our King, what changes need to be made to the way we live our lives?

Let’s make them.

Because He is King Jesus.