Mark 11:15 – 12:34
Rev. William Brunner Musselman
(From the Gospel Herald, Volume 50, June 14, 1952)
Jesus went with His disciples (vs. 15). He spoke mostly in the presence of His disciples. He was the main Spokesman when He was in touch with other people – with the world. When they came to Jerusalem, Jesus went into the Temple. He generally did that. He did not separate Himself on that line, but came among the Jews. He went to the Temple, but He didn’t agree with their worship; He corrected that. He showed Himself, His actions, His life, His purpose. He began to cast out them that sold and bought in the Temple and overthrew the tables of the money changers and the seats of them that sold doves.
It was the custom that some animals were sold for sacrifices; but it got so far that some did business right in connection with the Temple and this business was part of the Temple work instead of keeping the Temple as God’s House. A lot of them were deriving a financial benefit. In this case Jesus went into the Temple and upset things around there and cleaned up. He certainly meant business “and would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the Temple” (vs. 16). Before, He had been riding on a donkey—a type of reign—and this was a continuation of that type of reign which He shall do and is doing in a sense.
“And He taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My House shall be called of all nations the House of prayer?” (vs. 17). Naturally, these people would not be supposed to be thieves and robbers or anything like that. When we make money on a certain line or any line of our wisdom, there is a tendency to rob people. “Ye have made it a den of thieves.” This He said to the people of God. “All the people was astonished at His doctrine” (vs. 18). I do not think they were any more astonished than if Jesus would come into the churches today.
“Peter calling to remembrance saith unto Him, Master, behold, the fig tree which Thou cursedst is withered away” (vs. 21). Why do you think this was done? We do not always know the mind of the Lord; but right now, after they were making money selling sacrifices, etc., when He cleaned out the Temple, why should this come right now? The fig tree is always a type of the Jewish nation. The Jews were the fruit tree, but had no fruit of the Spirit, like that fig tree had no fruit, and He cursed it. When Peter came around he said, “The fig tree … is withered away,” and Jesus said, “Have faith in God” (vs. 22).
In this line He brings out different illustrations. “Whosoever shall say unto this mountain. Be thou removed” (vs. 23). He says, “This mountain.” He does not say which mountain, but “this mountain” shall be “cast into the sea.” “Whosoever”—and “shall not doubt”—then has it! What you do not doubt – when you have a thing by faith—you have it, you enjoy it. Whatever you have by faith, you have; and anything you have any other way, you haven’t got.
Just a little hint on faith. Jesus “upset” those Jews who were selling the sacrifices. He is recommending the life of faith. “Therefore I say unto you. What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (vs. 24). It is unreasonable! No one who is accustomed to reasoning will believe that another experiences it, either. Faith is unreasonable. It is not based on reason—it is just “believe.”
“And when ye stand praying” (vs. 25). That is just one of the positions. The Jews did not pray so much on the knees. Jesus did not say, “You must kneel down.” I believe every sincere saint will pray to the Lord standing or kneeling—there is no form at all. Just as soon as we get a form everybody else is condemned; there is no Spirit in it. When we are in the Spirit we talk with the Lord in any position. It is talking with the Lord. The Bible does not put down a form – not at all. Anywhere at all, and everywhere; but I rather believe that everyone who is devoted to the Lord and has been devoted for years, gets on his knees sometimes. Jesus says here, “When ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any.” How many, do you think, do a lot of “babbling”; and yet it is “this one” or “that one” who “did” something or “said” something against them which they refuse to forgive.
There are people who have always had something against somebody, and they admit it. They go to church, but they show that they have something against a brother or a sister. They are not ashamed—they make it a business—to show it. Their prayers are not answered. Jesus says this, and He is not a teaser. Fun is sometimes as hateful to God as is sarcasm. But, anyway, “Forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in Heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” The Father loves them as well as you. You say. “Good Lord,” “Dear Lord”; but when you have anything at all in your heart against His creatures He does not hear you at all. You can love Him; yes, but He wants you to love your neighbor as yourself, too. Some people make it their business to remind those that act with perfect love to all, “Have you forgotten?” “Don’t you keep a grudge?” “Why, you act just as though they were good.” If I loved only those who are perfect in my eyes, then I would hate myself more than anyone else.
We stand upon the ground of grace and those who stand upon that ground, how shall they deal with their fellow men? I felt sometimes that no matter what mountains came around I removed them all. I claim to be one of those who remove mountains. Jesus had mountains in His way but He saw through them. Jesus said, “When ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in Heaven may forgive you your trespasses” (vs. 25). “But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in Heaven forgive your trespasses” (vs. 26). Our way to Heaven is paved with forgiven trespasses. He fired it at them and then He went off and came back and by this time they had a committee. The chief priests wanted to know “by what authority?” (vs. 28). He was not ordained! He was not an officer! He was nothing! Only God had appointed Him!
It is a beautiful thing to be around those people who obey the Lord. Those people who must be appointed for everything they do and will not do anything unless they are appointed and do not want anyone else to do anything unless they are appointed, those dear souls are so often “tempted” by those who are not appointed. By the time they are so “tried,” the others get the business done for the Lord. I got some offices fired at me because I was already “doing.” My sympathy is with those who do too much in the eyes of the people. Jesus was never appointed by man. God sent Him and all the while He was upon earth every action was an appointment of God. If you obey the Holy Spirit, you will be questioned, “By what authority?” Jesus, the Son of God, was recognized as the Son of God in Heaven—the All and in All—and yet He had to give an account of Himself time and again to these Pharisees: “By what authority?” You cannot wait for recognition by man. “And who gave thee this authority to do these things?” There is no one of authority, in the minds of all, to do everything right, upon the earth. There will be someone to question.
“The baptism of John, was it from Heaven, or of men? answer Me” (vs. 30). You can see that Jesus was not bound to answer every foolish question. They all believed that John was a prophet. Did they believe John? Did John say something? “And they reasoned”—”reasoned”—”reasoned with themselves” (vs. 31). John had said, “Behold the Lamb of God”? John stayed by Jesus. Is it not easy to understand the Book? They say you must go to college. All you need to have is the Spirit when Jesus talks, if you want to obey. They answered, “We cannot tell.” How many answers one gets like that! Jesus answered, “Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.” Jesus was not a wishy-washy person who answered everything when it was to people who were not worthy of it. You do not need to answer everybody. If you obey the Lord and are in the Spirit, you cannot explain to everybody why you do this and why you do that. You do not need to explain to the devil and to the world. They are in the darkness anyway. Jesus said they had turned the House of God into a den of thieves, and that is why He was not in sympathy. Men and women of God cannot explain and explain so that the devil is satisfied—they have to act for God. People must have the same Spirit that you have to know. Having not the same Spirit, they are not called. You know whether they want to strive. If they do not come down to honesty so you can reach them, you do not need to come down to open-heartedness so they can reach you.
“And He began to speak unto them by parables” (Mark 12:1). This is to the Jews now. A parable says one thing and means another. He went away—so these fellows had rented and digged the vineyard, and they took it. The vines are there—everything is prepared to get the wine out. Everything is complete. He did it all. The man owned it all and when the time came he sent for his share of the product. By that time, they thought it was their’s, because they did a little work. He had no say at all. The one who furnished everything—they gave him nothing! When God sends men, it is God you touch when you touch His servants. The Jews were a people and in their time they were positively God’s chosen people. God brought them out of the wilderness; He showed Himself time and time again and yet how did they treat the men who represented God Himself and came for fruit? How are God’s people treated? The Jews continually owned up that God brought them out—and yet when God sent His servants they were shamefully treated! Might it be possible that right among us, when anyone obeys the Lord and stands out for the Holy Spirit’s operation, we also think he should have nothing to say. and “kill” him? The greatest men of God made the biggest mistakes. David was an exception out of a thousand that he did not kill Nathan, the Prophet. Anyone may be led by the Spirit; anyone may say something. Are we tyrannical? He said, “They will reverence my son” (vs. 6). Jesus said, “They know not what they do”; but God in various ways revealed His Son to those Jews that those Jews were sometime convinced and convicted that He was God’s Son.
If you obey God you are a kind of nuisance when others are stiff; but if you speak with God and walk with God, He will deal with the people. Certainly you will get the victory; certainly you will show your greatness in your simplicity. Certainly God will reveal you. There is as much chance for you as for anyone. I believe you can show Jesus best when you are pressed.
“Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours” (vs. 7). Jesus was hated because He was the Son. They killed Him and ignored Him. They had no mercy and God dealt with them and they are set aside. ”That Jew” is hated everywhere because they killed the Son. And they expected if they would kill the Son that they would get on top. Be sure you will be down yourself if you put another down. Putting the Son down meant putting themselves down. They have suffered beyond telling. They are God’s people, though; He has not thrown them away. God lets His people reap what they sow; He does not protect them that way.
“He will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others” (vs. 9). This is a type. The rejected One will be Head of the Kingdom. If you reject, if you have hindered, if you have some grudges against somebody, that will be your downfall. God lifts up what we put down. God is Head of all and the best thing to do is fall in line with what God loves. “This was the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes” (vs. 11). Our joy should be everybody’s benefit, everybody’s joy. The Jews knew they were guilty. They did not go God’s way; they went “their way” (vs. 12).
“Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” (vs. 14). One was there to catch Him if He answered, ”Yes” and the Herodians were there to watch if He were against paying tax; so they would get Him one way or the other. He must now come out with it; He must take a stand. They marveled at His answer (vs. 17). He got out again. They could do nothing. He did not answer every question their way. You cannot get anything out of the heart but what is in.
“Then come unto Him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection” (vs. 18). 1 believe with all my heart that eighty per cent of all the professing Christians are Sadducees. They would not want to go to Heaven without meeting their pets there. If Jesus is not the only One, you have no chance for Heaven. If Jesus is not the best One, then give it up! God is not a God of the dead, but of the living (vs. 27), for all die, but they shall rise again. Believers believe. If you have not more than what you can reason, you have nothing. There is no natural tie connected with the resurrection (vs. 25). Consequently the disciples who were filled with the Holy Ghost had little to say about natural ties. The disciples did not write a letter back every week and beg for one. The Godly tie goes ahead. He got a little understanding but “no man after that durst ask Him any question.” Jesus answered and the man answered and Jesus gave the man credit that he was nigh unto the Kingdom (vs. 34).
Jesus spoke about going to see Lazarus. He said that when you walk, you must walk by day. When you walk by the Heavenly light, you do not walk by reasoning. You know where you are going. When Paul wanted to go to Jerusalem, they reasoned. The people to whom Jesus spoke could not understand the Scriptural talk, so He plainly came out with, “Lazarus is dead” (vs. 14). Jesus had a talk with Martha, and Martha “knew it all” (vs. 24). Jesus just looked at Martha and said Lazarus could be resurrected. Jesus said, “I am the Resurrection, and the Life” (vs. 25). He called for Mary. She was by Him, quiet. She also referred to Lazarus’ death. What Jesus said to Martha, “I am the Resurrection, and the Life,” is the thing that Jesus claimed throughout. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6). The “way” was to suffer and to die and be buried and afterward the resurrection. He is the Life and even though He had to die He was the Life. He tried to make it plain by an object lesson through Lazarus. It was sufficient to
convince Martha. Mary did not need convincing; it was only a satisfaction. Why does He say, “I am the Resurrection”? Because He was without sin; because before He went into the public ministry He had the special enduement from Heaven. He was Divinely born. He had Divine power. He was related to no one on earth. He lived above—He was in fellowship with the Father. With the whole nation against Him, threatening to kill Him, they could not touch Him, they could not kill Him. They could not find a legal, legitimate way of bringing a charge against Him. Finally, when He gave Himself up, only then could they touch Him. He gave up His life. He had to give it up. He was Superman. He was beyond human. He was God! He is God manifest in the flesh. He preached resurrection and He said, “I am the Resurrection,” and yet they gave Him instructions! Everything that we have worth having is what we have by faith. We have the Life and can be resurrected and live above the world. The reason the martyrs gave up their natural life is because they were living by faith. They lost nothing—they could lose nothing upon earth. They were related to Divine creatures. That is the life to live.