As Jesus moved south toward Jerusalem, the cross became a more significant topic of discipleship in Mark (Mark 8:31-38; 9:30-32; 10:32-35). In Mark 11, Mark reported on Jesus’ triumphal entry—Jesus had finally arrived at the city of David. But the triumph would not be over Roman opponents. Jesus’ success would be in showing how the Jewish leadership had employed the structures of their religion for their own ends. The battleground would be the temple itself. Jesus cited the Old Testament to portray His supremacy even over Israel’s sacred place of worship in Jerusalem.
(1) In Mark 11:1-11, Jesus fulfilled Old Testament expectations of Israel’s Messiah. All of the Evangelists described the events surrounding Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem (Matt 21:1-9//Mark 11:1-10//Luke 19:28-40//John 12:12-19). Mark recorded that Jesus immediately directed His disciples to bring Him the donkey that was waiting for Him, upon which He rode into the city. Zechariah prophesied that Israel’s victorious king would come riding on a donkey (Zech 9:9). The prophet described both the gentle character and demeanor of Israel’s Messiah and the peace that He would bring upon Judah through military conquest (Zech 9:9-17). Mark saw in Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem a fulfillment especially of the former. In a peaceful manner Jesus was ready to lay down His life. And the crowds praised Jesus, proclaiming Ps 118:26 in Mark 11:9-10, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” After receiving the accolades of the crowd awaiting His presence at the Passover festival, Jesus went into Jerusalem and into the temple complex, looked around at everything, and left (Mark 11:11). He returned the next day and cleansed the temple of its distractions.
(2) In Mark 11:17, Jesus quoted Isa 56:7 and Jer 7:11 as He overturned the tables of the moneychangers in the temple during the Passover. Matthew and Luke also noted that Jesus cleansed the temple just after He entered Jerusalem (Matt 21:12-19//Luke 19:45-48). Jesus quoted Scripture as the coins scattered on the floor. Isaiah prophesied that when the Messiah came, the Gentiles would come and join themselves to Israel to pray and seek God together in the temple. The Lord said that He would accept the offerings the Gentiles presented to Him in the temple “for My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations” (Isa 56:7). In Mark 11:17a Jesus employed Isaiah’s prophecy to establish the activities that were supposed to take place in the temple and then in Mark 11:17b cited Jer 7:11 to condemn the moneychangers for turning the temple into a den of thieves. In Jer 7:1-11, Jeremiah confronted the people of Judah saying that when they ignored the orphan or the poor, they actually stole from them what God would have them give to the needy among them. Therefore, when the people of Judah, robbers, gathered in the temple, God’s house became a den of thieves.