Summary: As Jesus entered the Temple for the second time during Passion Week, He immediately met opposition. The chief priests, scribes, and elders had conspired against Him. As we strive to serve the Lord, the enemy will bring opposition against us too.
Challenged at the Temple
Mark 11: 27-33
Our text today continues to follow Jesus through what is commonly referred to as Passion Week. He had triumphantly entered Jerusalem and returned the next day to cleanse the temple. Again, for the third day in a row, Jesus had returned to Jerusalem and entered the temple.
One would expect this to be a place where Jesus felt at home – He was God robed in flesh, the Christ. The temple was set aside to worship the Lord. However, rather than being welcomed and recognized as the Christ, He was despised by the religious leadership. As Jesus entered the temple for the second time, the chief priests and elders were waiting for Him. They wanted to rid Jerusalem, and the world, from the one they considered a blasphemer and imposter.
While this passage focuses on the treatment of Jesus by those who should have loved and worshiped Him, we also find application for our lives as well. Those who are committed to serving the Lord might as well expect opposition. Often this will come from those we least expect, or from those we assume would seek to support our efforts. As we discuss the aspects of this encounter, I want to consider the thought: Challenged at the Temple.
I. A Public Confrontation (27-28) – As Jesus made His way into the temple, He was publicly confronted. Notice:
A. The Hostility (27) – And they come again to Jerusalem: and as he was walking in the temple, there come to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders. As Jesus walked into the temple, He was immediately confronted. We know according to the following chapter that He had come to teach the people. Jesus had come to expound upon the Word of God and was attacked by His adversaries as soon as He stepped into the temple. They did not wait for Him to share His message; they were determined to confront Him immediately. In fact, these men did not want Jesus in the temple teaching. They did not welcome His presence among them.
If you are committed to the Lord and seeking to serve Him in any capacity, don’t be surprised when the enemy attacks. He will even influence those you least expect to confront you or attack your motives. Often these attacks come without warning and happen at the most inopportune times. The devil likes to attack as we are preparing to engage in a ministry effort. These attacks can and do happen within the church. Satan often uses those who are part of the same congregation to launch his attacks on those he perceives as a threat. These attacks can come at any time. I have been confronted and chastised by someone angry just moments before I was expected to take the platform and preach. The enemy has no pity or mercy. If you are serving the Lord, you might as well expect hostility at some point in your life.
B. The Conspiracy (27) – And they come again to Jerusalem: and as he was walking in the temple, there come to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders. This was a concerted effort by many, that had no doubt been pre-planned. The temple leadership apparently had committed to confront Jesus the next He made His way into the temple. They had banned together and were all committed to preventing any further influence by Jesus. Likely these men would not have had the courage to confront the Lord individually, but they found courage in numbers. They wanted it to appear as if everyone agreed with their position.
We have all heard the phrase – misery loves company. The church is no exception and is not immune to this mindset. Those who are disgruntled or angry typically seek others to join them in their efforts. They attempt to convince them their effort is actually a crusade for the benefit of the church. Like these temple leaders, they find strength and courage in numbers. When they find the opportunity to confront the one with whom they are upset, they usually will make a statement like this – “people” are talking, or I have had “several” mention this to me. Often the people are no more than “me, myself, and I,” but they think it adds credibility to their argument. The enemy will provide the means to “rally the troops” when he is determined to undermine a specific person or area of ministry.
C. The Inquiry (28) – And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things? The temple leadership wasted no time in laying out their concerns and the issue they had with Jesus. Bear in mind these refused to embrace Jesus as the Christ. They were literally asking – who do you think you are? Who gave you the right to come in here and make any changes? By what authority are you doing these things? They refused to submit to the leadership and lordship of Christ.