Ministry of the Word
  MARK's balance notes Fr Jude



Entry into Jerusalem (11: 1-11)


·       Problematic:


1.   Roman authorities and the high priest do not take any action at this "entry" of Jesus with a huge crowd esp. at Passover time.


2.   "Lord" is a resurrection title – Jesus seems to declare himself here (earlier Messianic secret)


3.   "The colt" – how could Jesus know about this? The yoke has not yet been put on the animal and such an animal is slaughtered for sin (some sin).   There is reference to a "red heifer" in Num 19:2 ® "upon which yoke ….." Deut 21:3 ® "never been worked ….. yoke……"


EXPLANATION: Understand the symbolism :


Zechariah 9:9 ® Jesus fulfils this prophecy


·       "leafy branches" = Mk does not specify palms.

                                  (Mt ® "branches from the trees)

                                  (Lk ® Nil.  Jn. Nil)


·       "Hosanna …."     = from Ps 118: 25-26

                               = meaning is "save please"

                               = here it is more a greeting of homage


Cursing of the fig tree (11: 12- 14)


·       In Mk, first the cursing, then the "cleansing" and then the explanation of the cursing.


·       Problematic: only miracle in Jerusalem, destroys property (cfr "pigs" in ch 5), Jesus' behaviour seems irrational and destructive.


·       OT background is a series of passages about plants and their fruits: Is 1:30: "be … withers"



Ezekiel 17:9 – "uproot …. withers…."

Joel 1:12

Amos 2: 9 –


·       Figs in Palestine are not ripe before June


·       A symbolic story focussing on Israel's lack of readiness to accept Jesus or his message of the kingdom.  Hence "may you stand condemned."


·       The fig tree was a common OT image for Israel (Hos 9:10).  Jesus' cursing of the fig tree would symbolically stand for his anger with the Jewish people (lace of belief and their acceptance of him)


·       Story is also linked with the cleansing of the temple.


·       The withered fig-tree is meant to symbolise the fruitless side of Jewish piety in Jesus' time.


Cleansing of the Temple (11: 15-19)


·       The prophecy in Is 56:6-7

"make them (foreigners) joyful in my house of prayers…."  The temple will be opened to foreigners.


·       Jer 7:8 – 11 – "become a den of robbers …" (v-11)


·       The money-changers gave out Jewish coins in exchange for Greek or Roman money


Explanation of the fig tree (11:20-26 )


·       Mark drives home the point of prayer and faith


·       Prayer + forgiveness


5 controversy stories + 1 parable


1.   On whose authority 1:27 - 33

* 2. Parable of the tenants 12:1 – 12

3.   Paying taxes to Caesar 12: 13-17

4.   On the resurrection 12:18-27

5.   The great commandment 12:28-34

6.   On David's Son 12:35-37



1.   On whose authority 11:27-33 (v/s Scribes ch. Priests and elders)


·       The question was designed to trap Jesus into a public claim that his authority was from God thus laying the groundwork for a charge of blasphemy (cfr. 14:64)


·       The prime movers of the plot against Jesus are the Chief Priests, Scribes, Elders.


·       The reference is to Jesus' cleansing of the Temple.


·       The dilemma: If they admitted the divine origin of JB's baptism they would leave to explain why they did no accept is/him.


If they denied the divine origin they would run the risk of opposition from the general public who believed JB to be a prophet from God.




The parable is an allegory:


·       Vineyard = Israel; owner = God

·       Tenants = Israel's leaders, Son = Jesus

·       Servants = prophets, others = Gentiles

·       Punishment = destruction of the leadership seen in the destruction of the Temple


Difference in Mt and Lk

(21:33 – 46)


Mt= many servants

Mk = 1 servant, 1 servant, many

Lk = servants go one by one

(20: 9-19)


Absentee landlords sent servants or rent collectors during the year


·       "Vineyard" = Is 5:1-2

·       hedge was to keep animals out

·       winepress = for pressing the grapes into wine.

·       tower = a place for watchmen/shelter

·       Servants are given worse and worse treatment ® beating, wounding, shameful treatment, death.


·       "stone" which the builders…." = Ps 118: 22-23

·       corner-stone = holds the walls of the building together


Conclusion: The parable comments on the hostility of the Jewish leaders towards Jesus.   The kingdom of God will now be open to non-Jesus (Gentiles).


3.PAYING TAXES TO CAESAR (12: 13-17) v/s Pharisees & Herodious

·       Jesus goes on to challenge his audience to be as exact in serving God as they are in serving Caesar.


·       Payment of tax was in Roman coinage and a reminder to the Jesus of their subjugation.


·       The trap: If Jesus said its OK to pay taxes then he will be discredited among Jewish nationalists for collaboration with Rome.


If he says 'no' then he will be seen as a revolutionary and a danger to Rome.


·       Since the coins in which the tax is to be paid are Roman coins and belong to the Emperor, paying the tax is simply a matter of giving back to the Emperor what already belonged to him.


·       "things of God" = a spiritual challenge to meet one's obligations to God as conscientiously as one meets obligations to the State.


4.   ON THE RESURRECTION (12:18-27) v/s. Sadducees


·       Sadducees did not believe in the Resurrection because of the silence of the Pentatauch on this.


·       They quote Deut 25: 5-10 = marrying the husband's brother if he died


·       Jesus uses this occasion ("trap") to speak about resurrected life.


·       He uses Ex 3:6,15 – 16 = "god of the living."  God's power can overcome death and give life.


·       The angelic character of the resurrected is explained by Jesus.



5.   The Great Commandment (12:28 –34) controversy v/s a scribe


·       Jesus' answer combines 2 OT quotations Deut 6: 4-5 ® "the Shema"  (which a Jew had to say twice a day) & Lev. 19:18 ® "love your neighbour……"


·       The Scribe has a lack of hostility and is complimented by Jesus in the end.  His attitude and sincere desire to learn make the incident into a learning exercise rather than controversy.


·       "holocausts and sacrifices" cfr. Hos 6:6, 1Sam 15:22


6. David's son = 12:35 - 37


·       a complicated argument on Ps 110:1 – Lord … lord.  The title "son of David" does not exhaustively define the Messiah.


·       Jesus is something more.  He is Lord (Kyrios) and much greater than David – he is GOD.


·       Lord (God) said to "my Lord" is someone different from and superior to David i.e. Jesus. Jesus is more than "son of David"


Attack on the Scribes: (12: 28-40)


·       The hypocritical scribes are the opposite of what Jesus wants his disciples to be.


·       Jesus warns the Scribes about their search for honour and prestige (12:38-39) and robbing widows under the pretence of piety .


·       Scribes were the interpreters of the law.


·       They could serve as trustees of a widow's estate


·       A common way of receiving their fee was a share in the estate.  Perhaps they raised their fees in certain situations (against Ex 22:21 )


These lawyers will receive a stiff condemnation at the last judgement which is the highest court of all.


The Widow's Mite: 12:41 – 44.


·       The woman is contrasted v/s the greedy scribes.


·       "2 copper coins" were the smallest coins in circulation at that time.


·       The widow makes a real sacrifice to support the temple whereas the rich simply gave out of their surplus.


·       The end of the story signifies total dependence on God.  The widow is part of the "anawim "



Jesus' final discourse: (13:1-37) Division:


a) destruction of the Temple (13:2)

b) future events (13: 5-13)

c)   the great tribulation (13:14 – 23)

d) the triumph of the Son of Man (13:24-27)

e) exhortation to confidence and vigilance (13:28-37)


a)        In predicting the destruction of the Temple, Jesus stood in the Tradition of the OT prophets.


Mic 3:12 –

Jer 26: 18 –


·        Temple destroyed in AD 70 by the Romans.


b)  Jesus' message is one of patient endurance in the face of cosmic upheavals and persecutions. "wait-and-see the coming of God's kingdom"


·        Early Christians leaders and teachers may have claimed to be reincarnations of Jesus.  They claimed to be Jesus come back from the right hand of God cfr. 13: 21-23


The coming of the KOG will be preceded by wars, uprisings, earthquakes, famines – these are all part of the divine plan.   The example used is of a woman giving birth.


·          From world events the focus shifts to the fate of the disciples – they will suffer persecution.  They will encounter opposition from Jews and Gentiles


·          "brother will betray brother ….." (within the family too)


c)        "desolating sacrilege" = abomination of desolation cfr. Dan 9;27,11:31, 12:11 1Macc 1:54, 59


Antiochus IV Epiphanes erected an altar in the Temple and slaughtered unclean animals on it.  Later, put his own statue (in 168 BC)


·          Later Emperor Caligula will do the same.


v-19 // Dan 12:1 – "time of trouble ….


·          God has established a time schedule for the coming of the kingdom (Dan 12:7)

d)     Cosmic portents/signs are taken from the OT:


Is 13:10, Ezek 32:7, Amos 8:9, Joel 2:10, 31


i.e. all creation will signal his coming.


"clouds"- Dan 7:13 – applied to Jesus


·          The gathering of the elect will take place.



e)     Exhortation:



      2 parables  ............the fig tree


                                    man going on a journey








3 sayings (13:30, 13:31, 13:32)


Catch phrases = these things (29), pass away (30), watch (33), gate (29)


"heaven & earth will pass away" = Os 51:6, 40:8


·          The door-keeper must be ready for the master's return (v-34).  Since the exact time is not known, constant vigilance is required .

  Today, there have been 10 visitors (65 hits) on this page!  
This website was created for free with Would you also like to have your own website?
Sign up for free