Mark 11

Jesus at Jerusalem—The Break with Judaism[a]

Chapter 11

The Entry into Jerusalem.[b] 1 When they drew near Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent off two of his disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village directly ahead of you, and as soon as you enter it you will find tied there a colt on which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say: ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back immediately.’ ”

4 The two went off and found a colt tied beside a door outside on the street. As they were untying it, 5 some of them said to them, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 They answered as Jesus had instructed them, and they allowed them to take it. 7 Then they brought the colt to Jesus and spread their cloaks on its back. And he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed kept crying out:

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 heavens!”

11 He entered Jerusalem and went into the temple, where he looked around at everything. Then, since the hour was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

12 Jesus Curses a Sterile Fig Tree.[d] On the next day, as they were leaving Bethany, he felt hungry. 13 Noticing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find any fruit on it. When he reached it, he found nothing except leaves, since it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to it, “May no one ever again eat fruit from your branches.” And his disciples heard him say this.

15 Jesus Cleanses the Temple.[e] Then they came to Jerusalem. He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were engaged there in buying and selling. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. 16 Nor would he allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 Then he taught them, saying: “Is it not written:[f]

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

18 When the chief priests and the scribes heard about this, they plotted to do away with him. For they were afraid of him because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. 19 And when evening came, they left the city.

20 The Lesson of the Withered Fig Tree.[g] Early the next morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21 Then Peter, recalling what had happened, said to Jesus: “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered away.”

22 Jesus said to them, “Have faith in God. 23 Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be accomplished for him. 24 So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

25 “And whenever you stand in prayer, forgive whatever grievance you have against anybody, so that your Father in heaven may forgive your wrongs too. [ 26 But if you do not forgive others, then your Father in heaven will not forgive you your transgressions.]”[h]

27 The Authority of Jesus Questioned.[i] They returned once again to Jerusalem. As Jesus was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders approached him 28 and asked, “By what authority are you doing these things? Or who gave you the authority to do them?” 29 Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question. Give me an answer, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. 30 Did John’s baptism originate from heaven or from men? Tell me!”

31 They argued among themselves, “If we say: ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ 32 But how can we say, ‘From men’?”—for they were afraid of the people, who all regarded John as a true prophet.

33 Therefore, they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Then neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.”


  1. Mark 11:1 We are at Jerusalem, where the decisive action takes place. Jesus’ confrontation with the established religion takes on an irremediable character. Mark groups together in three days the events that consummate the break and thus open the way of faith in Christ to the whole world. The time of Israel is ended. The presence of Jesus in the Holy City and in the temple is like a visit from God, a fulfillment, and a judgment.
  2. Mark 11:1 The simplicity of the event and the modest mount ridden by Jesus (see Zec 9:9) suggest that “the coming kingdom” (v. 10) will not bring a political restoration and that the Messiah was not to be a national hero. See also note on Mt 21:1-11.
  3. Mark 11:9 Hosanna: an acclamation meaning “Grant salvation!” The citation is from Ps 118:25.
  4. Mark 11:12 The Prophets used the image of a fig tree with respect to Israel (see Jer 8:13; 29:17; Joel 1:7; Hos 9:10, 16). Jesus’ cursing of the fig tree is regarded as a parable in action representing a judgment on Israel’s barrenness and Jerusalem’s rejection of Jesus’ teaching (see Isa 34:4; Hos 2:14; Lk 13:6-9).
  5. Mark 11:15 During his trial Jesus will be accused of having tried to set up a new temple (Mk 14:58; 15:29).
  6. Mark 11:17 The first part of the citation is from Isa 56:7. Only Mark has reported to us the expression for all the nations. Thus, the gesture of Jesus takes on a Messianic meaning, alluding to the conversion of the Gentiles. Den of thieves: see Jer 7:11.
  7. Mark 11:20 See note on Mt 21:18-22.
  8. Mark 11:26 This verse is found only in some manuscripts; it was probably added from Mt 6:15.
  9. Mark 11:27 The increasing hostility toward Jesus arose from the chief priests, scribes, and elders (v. 27) as well as the Herodians and Pharisees (Mk 12:13) and the Sadducees (Mk 12:18). They rejected the messengers sent by God—John the Baptist and Jesus—and so incurred the judgment alluded to in these verses and confirmed by the parable of the tenants (Mk 12:1-12).

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