Read Mark 11
Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King
1 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 2 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. 3 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”
4 They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5 some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. 7 When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,
“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 heaven!”
11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
Jesus Curses a Fig Tree and Clears the Temple Courts
12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 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. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.”And his disciples heard him say it.
15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts 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,16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 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.’”
18 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.
19 When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.
20 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”
22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” 
The Authority of Jesus Questioned
27 They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him. 28 “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?”
29 Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 30 John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!”
31 They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 32 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’ …” (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.)
33 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”
Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”
This passage begins the single most important week in history. All of Jesus’s earthly ministry has been building to the next few days and, on top of that, He’s fully aware of what is about to happen. When Jesus arrives on the scene in Jerusalem, He doesn’t come quietly. First, He rides into town on a young donkey as a large crowd watches. He then curses a fig tree, which was a symbol of the large group of unbelievers in Israel. Next, He clears out the temple courts of the people trying to profit off of the worshippers. And finally, He engages in a theological debate about the authority that He has been given. Through each scene in this chapter, we see Jesus acting with a sense of urgency.
Every action, conversation, and discussion we see from Jesus is well thought out and calculated. He knows what’s coming and He is determined to build the Kingdom of God all throughout Mark 11. So what can we learn from this? The word that marks this chapter is intentionality. Jesus intentionally, throughout each part of this chapter, gives people the opportunity to reject the world and follow Him. We, too, get the same invitation. We have the option to worship all of the things around us, much like the crowd around Jesus chose to do. Status, power, money, our own self-righteousness–it’s all there for us if we want it. Or we can choose a different path. If we do this, it will look different than many of the people around us, but Jesus shows us here that it’s the path that honors God. Which will you choose today?
What was the first thing that stood out to you about the character of Jesus in today’s reading?
The crowds welcomed Jesus initially, only to turn around and kill Him a few days later because He wasn’t what they expected Him to be. Can you think of a time recently that you turned your back on God for not fulfilling expectations? What did that look like for you?
Why did Jesus feel the need to clear out the temple courts? What was the point of Him doing that?
Jesus uses the withered fig tree to teach the disciples a lesson about faith. What’s standing in the way of your faith growing and bearing fruit today?
Did You Know?
Jesus riding into town on a donkey fulfilled a prophecy in Zechariah 9. Donkeys were a sign of peace, so He was sending a message to the crowd. They would have expected their king to ride in like a warrior on a majestic horse, but Jesus did quite the opposite.