Introduction: Think about the times when you were coming up to the
deadline for an unpleasant or very difficult task. How did you react
during those last few “crunch days?” For some people, the pressure
helps them to focus. For others, the pressure interferes with their
focus. Jesus is coming down to the last week of His life here on
earth. This week we look at stories which reveal His focus. Let’s
- Read Mark 10:32. Get this picture in your mind. Jesus is
walking ahead. The disciples and the crowd have this
feeling of astonishment and fear. What do you think caused
this feeling? (It must have been Jesus’ manner, what was
in His face. Compare Isaiah 50:7.)
- Read Mark 10:33-34. Were the disciples and the crowd right
to have a feeling of dread and fear? (Jesus is making His
last journey on earth. He has just about a week until His
- If you knew that you were going to face terrible pain
and death a week from now, how would your face look?
- Why is Jesus telling His disciples this? (He cares
about them. He is(again) warning them of what is
ahead. He is also giving them hope.)
- Read Mark 10:35-37. Is it possible that James and John had
not been listening and just picked up the “Three days
later He will rise” part of what Jesus said?
- What do you think of their request?
- Put your life in this story. Jesus came to serve and
die painfully on our behalf. As His followers, what
kind of requests do we present to Him?
- There is a very popular preacher on television whose
messages I generally enjoy. I have heard him say that
he prays that God will move the traffic out of his
way and God will help him find a parking space – and
God does. On one hand I like to think of God helping
me in the little things of life. On the other hand,
when we consider Jesus’ experience here, this seems
self-centered – like the requests of James and John.
What do you think about praying for minor, perhaps
selfish things like this?
- Read Jesus’ response in Mark 10:38-39. Did these
disciples understand what they were requesting? (Jesus
says they did not.)
- Read Mark 10:41-45. How do the best parking spaces and
cleared traffic fit into this? Or, is Jesus speaking only
of our relationships with others in our church?
- Glorious Entry
- Read Mark 11:1-3. The group is now approaching the place
where Jesus said ( Mark 10:33-34) He was going to die. How
do you think the disciples feel?
- Read Zechariah 9:9. If they knew this prophecy, what would
be going through their minds?
- Remember that Jesus is coming to Jerusalem for Passover.
What did Passover commemorate? (The miraculous deliverance
of the Jews from slavery at the hands of mighty Egypt.
- As the average Jew contemplated Passover, what do you
think was on his mind? (God should do the same for
them now – deliver them from mighty Rome.)
- Read Mark 11:7-10. “Hosanna” means “Save now.” What would
be the “coming kingdom of our father David?” (The
David/Solomon era represented the time when Israel was at
its peak in power and territory. God had said that He
would restore the Kingdom of David. Amos 9:11. This was
part of the popular Messianic hope of the people.)
- Read 2 Kings 9:13. With this insight into history, what is
Jesus doing? (He is approaching Jerusalem as a King.)
- Read John 12:12-13. Notice that Jesus is letting the
people call Him “the King of Israel.”
- Friends, put all the pieces together. At the time of
Passover, a time when thoughts turn to deliverance from
foreign powers, Jesus enters like a king and lets the
people welcome Him as King. Why is He doing this? (The
Bible Exposition Commentary has it right: Jesus is
declaring Himself to be Israel’s King and Messiah.)
- Let’s read John 12:17 – which immediately follows
this triumphal entry. Who is the core of this crowd?
(The Galileans who saw Him raise Lazarus to life.)
- What effect did the resurrection of Lazarus have on
the Jewish leaders? (You will recall that John 11:45-53 recounts that this miracle caused a convening of
the Jewish Sanhedrin where it was decided that they
must kill Jesus. This brings us to the second reason
why Jesus allowed this royal entry. As the Passover
Lamb, He is to die at Passover. This little
demonstration lets the Jewish leaders know that the
time to act to stop Jesus is right now!)
- Read Mark 11:11. Jesus enters in triumph, takes a look
around, and then goes back home to Bethany. Why? (He
probably would have been killed if He stayed overnight in
- Figs and Frauds
- Read Mark 11:12-14. How would you rate Jesus’ ecological
awareness? Is He sufficiently concerned about the plants
and the trees?
- Mark has told us in the past that Jesus knew the
thoughts of others ( Mark 2:8), why does He have to go
up to this tree to see if it has fruit? Why doesn’t
He just automatically know it?
- Perhaps more to the point, the text says that it is
not the season for fruit. Why is Jesus expecting
- Why is He punishing the tree for not having
fruit when it is not supposed to have fruit?
(I’m no expert on figs, but commentaries that I
read said that the appearance of leaves on this
tree meant that “early figs” should be present.
The IVP Commentary reports that “if only leaves
appeared without the early figs, the tree would
bear no figs that year – early or late.”)
- What, then, is the fault of the tree?
(Making the pretense of having figs
without really having any.)
- Read Mark 11:19-20. Why didn’t Jesus just bless this tree
with fruit instead of killing it?
- Read Luke 13:6-9. Jesus often spoke in parables. What do
you think, is the fig tree a parable or is Jesus really
mad about not getting any figs to eat? (The disciples
probably remembered this event-that Jesus had previously
used a fig tree in a parable.)
- How many years had Jesus been in His ministry now?
(Three years – the same as in this parable about the
- Who or what do you think the fig tree represents? (In
between these texts in Mark on the fig tree is the
account of Jesus driving the money changers out of
the temple. ( Mark 11:15-18) Just before the story of
the fig tree we see Jesus considering the temple.
( Mark 11:11) By the position of the fig tree story,
Mark is telling us that the fig tree is a parable of
Jerusalem and the temple. In the three years of
Jesus’ ministry, they have yet to bear the fruit of
recognizing the Messiah within their midst.)
- Read Mark 11:22-24. Immediately after Peter points out the
withered fig tree, Jesus starts talking about the power of
faith-based prayer to move mountains. Do we have the
power to destroy forests (or just trees) by prayer? Do we
have the power to start moving mountains around by prayer?
Could we become an ecologist’s worst nightmare through
- Move your clocks ahead by five years in the lives of
the disciples. What was the biggest problem that they
faced? (The Jewish leadership.)
- If the fig tree represents Jerusalem, the temple, and
the unbelieving Jewish leadership, what do you think
the mountain represents? (The Jewish leadership is
the “mountain” standing in the way of the future
ministry of the disciples. Jesus is not talking about
ecology, He is not talking about fig trees, and He is
not talking about literal mountains. He is teaching
the disciples to rely on faith-based prayer when they
face the obstacles of the unbelieving, persecuting
Jewish leadership. This is one of His final lessons
- Friend, what fig trees and mountains do you have in your
life? Prayer is the answer!
- Next week: Last Days in the Temple.