Tuesday of Holy Week

Rev. Steve Boutell   -  

Mark 11:20-13:37 is a long passage that tells us of everything that happened on Tuesday of Holy Week. For the next two days, we will look at these verses.

Mark 11:20-26 talks about what happened when Jesus and his disciple walked passed the fig tree that Jesus had cursed the day before.

Mark 11:27-33 covers and encounter that Jesus had with the religious authorities of his day and the question of authority in general. This is what we will discuss today.

Mark 12 is a collection of the teachings of Jesus.

Mark 13 is Jesus teaching in the future.

As you Mark 11:27-33 you notice that Jesus is going back into the temple, the site of his table overturning encounter the day before.

An invitation to change the way the temple was run was a direct threat to the religious leaders of the day. The system was set up to benefit those guys the most. When the moneychangers exchanged money for the temple currency for an exorbitant fee, the leadership got a cut. When the people selling doves sold a bird for the worshipers to sacrifice, the leadership got a cut. So if things were going to change, as Jesus demanded, the leadership was going to lose a lot.

So when Jesus walked by into the temple on Tuesday morning, the religious leaders had some questions of Jesus.

 As Jesus was walking through the Temple area, the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders came up to him. They demanded, “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right to do them?”

MARK 11:27-28 (NLT)

They were the authorities around the temple and Jesus had come in and taken over. What authority did he have?

Any careful reading of the gospels teaches you that asking Jesus a question is always an adventure. Jesus never just answers questions directly. He often responds by asking a question.

In the book, “Jesus is the Question,” Martin Copenhaver points out that Jesus asks many more questions than He answers. He asked 307 questions and out of the 183 questions He is asked, He only answers three

I think there are a couple of reasons that Jesus does this.

  1. Sometimes he asks a question because he doesn’t trust the person asking him the question.
  2. Sometimes he asks a question because he wants to get at the motive for the question being asked of him.
  3. All the time, I think he asks a question because there is really more to a situation than the person who asks Jesus realizes. When Jesus asks a question he is giving us the opportunity to get to the answer in smaller, more understandable, bits.

So let’s look at Jesus’ question to his questioners.

Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me.”

MARK 11:29-30 (NRSV)

Jesus question does a few things

  1. It demonstrates Jesus’ lack of trust in the religious leadership.

He knew the way they had treated John the Baptist and he all knew what they were trying to do to them.

Remember after he overturned the tables in the temple saying

‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?  But you have made it a den of robbers.”

MARK 11:17 (NRSV)

we are told…

…when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him…

MARK 11:18 (NRSV)

Jesus asks a question in response to the religious leader’s question of him.

Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me.”

MARK 11:30 (NRSV)

  1. Jesus’ question gets at the motive of religious leadership.

Jesus rightfully discerns that their motive is to hold on to their position.

Listen to the way they argued about how to respond to Jesus’ question.

They argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’  But shall we say, ‘Of human origin’?”—they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet.

MARK 11:31-32 (NRSV)

The leaders were worried about the way that people responded to their answer of the question more than they were worried about answering the question correctly.

So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.”

MARK 11:33A (NRSV)

  1. Ultimately, Jesus teaches a bigger lesson here.

So often answers to the bigger questions of faith will not make sense to us until we are ready to commit to following Jesus wholeheartedly.

Jesus responds to the leaders…

And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

MARK 11:33B (NRSV)

Jesus asked beautiful, life-altering questions. Questions that changed the lives around him and they have the power to change our lives today.

Jesus’ questions very rarely require a simple yes/no answer.

When we take the time to consider what He is really asking, we are drawn deeper into intimacy with Him.

What would be your response if Jesus were asking you questions?

What is Jesus asking you?

Yesterday, the invitation was to ask yourself important questions during Holy Week.

Today, the invitation is to answer some important questions that is asked of us.

We will see you tomorrow.

Pastor Steve