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Today's Little Lift

    by Jim Bullington

They Feared Him (Mark 11.18)
Date Posted: October 23, 2020

“So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple. Then He taught, saying to them, 'Is it not written, My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a den of thieves.” And the scribes and chief priests heard it and sought how they might destroy Him; for they feared Him, because all the people were astonished at His teaching. When evening had come, He went out of the city.” (Mark 11.15-19).

Jesus was anything but a wimp. The focus text contains statements that absolutely contradict any conclusion to the contrary. First, consider what He did regarding the abuses that were being carried out in and around the temple. The prophet Isaiah had foretold the time when the temple should have been recognized as a house of prayer for all nations. However, the conduct of the religious leaders connected with the temple had so perverted the intended usage of the structure, Jesus was provoked to say (quoting from Jeremiah) that they had made the temple a “den of thieves.” With this pronouncement, He personally purged the temple of the corruption that was being sanctioned by the chief priests, scribes and others. He was so strict in His intent to stop the capricious use of the temple that He “would not allow anyone to carry wares (vessels) through the temple." This possibly has reference to the fact that the atmosphere on the grounds was so profane that shortcuts were being taken by men who had no intent to worship or serve God; they were just passing through to save a step or two! Jesus put a stop to this profaning of God's house.

Secondly, notice the reaction of the scribes and chief priests. Mark simply states the facts and says, “They feared Him!” These men who were afraid of Him were some of the most powerful men in Jerusalem. They had the ability to gain the ear of the governor and their puppet king; further, they had the ability to bring misery upon anyone who crossed them. Yet, they were afraid of Jesus! What had Jesus done to arouse their angst? He had never abused them in any way, nor had He accused them of anything that could not be proven. That, however, was their problem. They knew that Jesus had the ear of the common people and that He could turn the masses against them should He be permitted to continue to gain the trust of the people. To put it succinctly, they feared Him because He could expose their evil deeds.

Fear is an interesting emotion. It puts men that might otherwise have the advantage in a place of disadvantage. After all, who was this Man? Wasn't He just the son of a carpenter as they had asserted? Was He really someone to be feared inasmuch as He continuously displayed compassion like none other through the miraculous deeds that He was doing? Yet, they feared Him. The Greek word for fear in this text can be anglicized as phobeo, the word from which we get our English word, phobia. Yes, they feared Him, not because He was opposed to the rule of law and justice, but because He embodied all the great principles of law and justice. This reaction reveals the true character of the men in this story. Had they been honorable men, they would have had no reason to fear Him, but could have embraced Him even as the common people did.

It is true that a person's character is often revealed by his friends, but it is equally true that a man's character can be determined by his enemies. When a person fears Jesus, his character shows!


1. In what way had men made the house of prayer a den of thieves?

2. Thought question: What authority did Jesus have to put an end to the mockery that was being made of the temple?

3. Why were the scribes and chief priests fearful of Jesus (what does the text say)?

4. What conclusions can we draw about a man from his choice of friends? How about his enemies?

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Biography Information:
Jim Bullington - A Christian writer whose insight into the scriptures is reflected in practical application lessons in every article. The reader will find that the Bible speaks directly to him/her through these articles. God is always exalted and His word is treated with the utmost respect in this column.
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