Summary: 1) The Faithful Arrival (Mark 11: 1– 7), 2) The Faithless Approval (Mark 11: 8– 10), 3) The Faithful Appraisal (Mark 11:11)
Carved into a towering cliff in central Afghanistan stood two gigantic statues. Hewn out of the living sandstone rock, they were figures of the Buddha, dominating the Bamiyan Valley which they overlook. The statues stood on the ancient Silk Road, the old trade route which stretched through Afghanistan and right across Asia, and as a result they have long been known far and wide. There they have stood for around fifteen hundred years, a lasting monument to the religious devotion of their builders, surviving invasions, suffering mainly from the slow erosion of wind and weather, and a magnet for tourists and travellers. Or at least, that was the situation until March 2001, when the Taliban were in power in Kabul. They decided that these Buddhas were idols and un-Islamic; they simply had to go. So, against the pleas of the entire international community, they demolished the two statues. It proved harder than they expected, taking a month of intensive effort, but at last the two Buddhas were obliterated. While the rest of the world regards the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas as a supreme act of cultural vandalism, the Taliban simply feel that they have made their point. Judgement has been given. The old order is finished; the golden age of hard-line Islamist rule has arrived. In Mark 11:1–25, Jesus is declaring judgement on the old order. As he arrives in Jerusalem in dramatic procession, he is staking his claim to what belongs to him by right. Then, as he marches into the temple and drives out the stallholders and the money-changers, he is publicly declaring that the temple’s days are finished and something new and wonderful has come. This is no empty act of vandalism. Whereas the Taliban were simply striking out at something they disapprove of, making a statement about what they regard as unacceptable, with Jesus Christ it is quite different. When he declares judgement on the old ways, he is actually bringing it about. These are not acts of frustration; they are acts of decision. This is the judgement of the King. This passage begins a new section of Mark’s Gospel… It forms the prelude to the passion narratives in which Jesus inaugurates the new covenant in his blood (Wilmshurst, S. (2011). A Ransom for Many: The Gospel of Mark Simply Explained (pp. 247–248). Darlington, England: EP Books.).
Many people today are open to a Jesus who they think will give them wealth, health, success, happiness, and the other worldly things they want. Like the multitude at the triumphal entry, they will loudly acclaim Jesus as long as they believe He will satisfy their selfish desires. But like a multitude a few days later, they will reject and denounce Him when He does not deliver as expected. When His Word confronts them with their sin and their need of a Savior, they curse Him and turn away
In this final week, starting with the Triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem, which we recall this Palm Sunday, Mark presents who Jesus is coming head to head with our expectations in: 1) The Faithful Arrival (Mark 11: 1– 7), 2) The Faithless Approval (Mark 11: 8– 10), 3) The Faithful Appraisal (Mark 11:11)