Mark- The Gospel of Action - Divine Authority 3: Mark 11:21-33
February 10, 2020, 10:00 AM

Mark: The Gospel of Action

“Divine Authority” – Mark 11:21-33


Jesus is real. His teachings are the truth. He is authentically who He claimed to be.


Last time in this series we looked at the second part of Mark 11. Jesus had just cleared the temple for the second time in His ministry if you remember. They had created a mockery of the temple – it was meant to be a house of prayer and they turned it into a marketplace. Jesus demonstrated His authority prior to His clearing of the temple in a symbolic act of cursing a fig tree that appeared to be ready for fruit yet did not have any. The fig tree dried up as a result and was a picture of where our lives are at as a result of our fallenness – our inequity in our intended purpose. We pick back up now in verse 21 where Jesus disciples discover the tree withered the next day.


Mark 11:20-21 (NIV)
20 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots.
21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!"

Jesus has divine authority. Whatever He wills will be.


God’s will is a non-negotiable. He makes all things work out toward His ultimate goal. He uses our faithfulness and our disobedience. He uses our blessings and our curses to bring about His will.

This goes back to that original premise of Jesus authority. Remember he claimed to be the truth.

John 14:6-7 (NIV)
6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."

Jesus didn’t just claim to be teaching the truth, He said that He is the truth.


You take Buddha out of Buddhism and you still have those philosophical/theological teachings. You take the Prophet Mohamed out of Islam and you still have the Koran, but if you take Jesus out of the New Testament you no longer have Christianity. Jesus was not just a teacher of truths, He claimed to be the Truth – He claimed divine authority. He did not just tell us rules to live by – that is the weakest form of religiosity. He did not just tell us how to live – He claimed that only through Him can we truly live.


Jesus has divine authority and His will is impenetrable, regardless of our choices, but He is also love. This does not make Him unmoved by our condition. Jesus died for that very fact, because we were dead in our sin, withered like that fig tree and yet because of Him and his sacrifice for us on the cross and resurrection from the dead we can have new life.


Repeatedly Jesus disciples had witnessed His authority. They had seen His authority, as He healed the sick, cast out demons, turned water into wine, walked on water and calmed the storms. Yet again here they have born witness to His divinity.


People were moved by Jesus – not just because of His miracles, but because of the way that He said things, repeatedly in the scriptures it says that people were in awe of what He said because He spoke as one with authority.

Wherever Jesus went great crowds followed Him. He was becoming very influential.

The religious establishment at that time did not care too much for Jesus sudden rise to prominence. It appears that they were very much moved by what Jesus had to say as well. The truth has a way of doing that to you. When you hear truth, especially spiritual truth, it has a ring to it. It resonates within you.

God’s divine authority does have a limitation, however. His truth is truth always. His will will be accomplished regardless of what happens and the perceived setbacks to it in this life and in history – but ultimately God is limited in this one area concerning us. It is a limitation by design. You see He created us for relationship – to love – to love Him, to love each other and to love the people of our world. But love is by definition a choice, and God has given us this choice to trust Him – to Love Him – To experience all the life that He has for us. He has placed this one limitation concerning us as individuals. I hope that in this next season of baseball coming up that the San Francisco Giants will start to be contenders and win some games again after a few bad seasons. I don’t know if that is going to happen, but I do know this that at the end of time as we now know it God wins. However, God is limited in your individual life, by your personal choice to trust Him.

You see even in the face of truth you must determine to accept it or deny its power in your life. Truth tends to motivate a response – whether it be surrender, change or repentance.

The Pharisees were face to face with this truth, repeatedly. Here again in this passage we see this. Jesus and His disciples the day after clearing the temple arrive back in Jerusalem from their evening rest a mile or so away in Bethany. Jesus again returns to the temple courts where the day before He had caused such a tremendous stir. Here these religious leaders question Jesus authority.


Mark 11:27-33 (NIV)

27 They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him.
28 "By what authority are you doing these things?" they asked. "And who gave you authority to do this?"
29 Jesus replied, "I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
30 John's baptism--was it from heaven, or from men? Tell me!"
31 They discussed it among themselves and said, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will ask, 'Then why didn't you believe him?'
32 But if we say, 'From men'...." (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.)
33 So they answered Jesus, "We don't know." Jesus said, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things."

The religious leaders were stuck. They had come to a crossroads of sorts. They had to make a decision about this Jesus. “Who does He think He is?” even though He had made that clear, over and over again. The real question they had to ask though was not “Who does He think He is?” but “Who do we think He is?” It is our question too. They asked Jesus to defend Himself, and He turned the question back to them – forcing them to state their belief – their opinion of Him.


They had witnessed His authority and a great deal of people, including many from their own number had been moved by Him, but He also represented a threat to the status quo. You can always tell if God’s hand is in something, because it always upsets the status quo. His teachings – His truth – demanded a break from the old ways of doing things – the patterns with which they were familiar and in which they had control.


Choosing to trust Jesus is a matter of giving up control.

Until someone is ready to give up control no one will convince him/her that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

Ravi Zacharias spoke of the atheist Philosopher Bertrand Russell’s assertion, when asked if he were to encounter the creator on the other side of death what he would say, and I paraphrase his answer here for brevity’s sake, He asserted that – speaking to God - “You didn’t give me enough evidence.”

How much evidence then is enough? We look around and see the wonder of the world around us. We see the complexities of this universe or the complexities of the human body. These things all point to a divine creator – these things must have been put into existence by something. Man has searched throughout the generations and cross-culturally for the answers to who, how and why we were created. After that is the pursuit to be good enough and to be righteous enough or to be at one with yourself and the universe enough to somehow achieve god’s blessing or a state of Nirvana, etc. Of all the major religions and belief systems Christianity is set apart in this one way – Grace. We cannot do it in our own strength of our own volition. We need a savior. Only God our creator can save us. Jesus, God offers us Himself. He came with all His divine authority to make us new. We certainly could not do it in our own strength. When we try to do it this way we end up with a corrupted marketplace instead of a temple. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. He comes to reside in us and work in our lives, but we constantly cheapen our lives and these temples. We end up as a withered fruitless tree, rather than a provider of sustenance. This though comes down to our choices. There is no amount of proof in the end that will steer us if we have decided against the Truth.

But once we give up our control and put our ultimate trust in Jesus the miracle of miracles is that He comes to reside in us – He goes to work redeeming our lives and all of its choices and baggage and then He uses our lives to accomplish His will. Nothing is more fulfilling than that. Not money, success, fame, a house, a car, nothing – because it is what we were created for.

We have His divine authority working in our lives and on our behalf.

This is what Jesus was talking about when He said these things in response to Peter’s discovery of the withered fig tree…

Mark 11:21-33 (NIV)
21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!"
22 "Have faith in God," Jesus answered.
23 "I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.
24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."

Here we see in this passage again the formula for Life – for knowing and living the will of God. It is all about relationship. Jesus begins by saying, “Have faith in God.” Putting faith in someone is an act of intimacy. It is a choice and it is made carefully and with thought. It is made with care. We don’t put our faith in just anyone. He further says that our faith is contingent on our dealing with conflict and restoring and maintaining our relationships with each other. It is through living this way that we inherit a life flanked by the power of God at work. Jesus is not really suggesting that we would throw mountains into the bay – but that as we trust in God and as we surrender daily to His will in prayer the mountains of this life will seem like nothing to the all-encompassing power of a God who loves us and is meeting our every need and is using our lives powerfully.

This is what Life is all about – This is the truth - Jesus is real. His teachings are the truth. He is authentically who He claimed to be.

We now must decide – who Jesus is to us?

By Carl Friedel


02-13-2020 at 6:56 PM
Jo Ann
I choose Truth. I choose Jesus! Amen! I loved this blog!
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