Kingdoms in Conflict
Gospel of Mark: Kingdom Invasion
Week #11: Kingdoms in Conflict
ince the Kingdom of God operates so differently from the values of this world, it is not surprising that there is an inevitable conflict between the two. The leaders of his day were not able to recognize Jesus and his upside-down kingdom, and probably felt threatened by it. This week’s passage begins with a public event layered with Messianic overtones. The stage is set for the conflict between competing kingdoms.
READ Mark 11:1-12:17
- Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem begins a new section in the Gospel of Mark, the beginning of Passion Week. This deliberate Messianic action (see Zechariah 9:9) at the time of the Passover heightens the conflict with the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. Since the religious authorities did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah, how do you think they felt about the crowd’s response to Jesus (Mark 11:8-10)?
- The temple area Jesus enters (Mark 11:15) is the court of the Gentiles, the only place in which Gentiles could worship God and pray. The money changers were there to change money into the required local currency, though perhaps they were taking financial advantage of the people. Why do you think Jesus is so distraught by what is taking place and takes such confrontational action (Mark 11:15-17)?
- How doe the religious leaders respond to this action (Mark 11:18)?
- Why do you think the cleansing of the temple is sandwiched by the cursing of the fig tree (Mark 11:12-14, 20-21)?
- With Jesus’ triumphal entry and cleansing of the temple, the Jewish leaders question Jesus’ authority to do these things (Mark 11:27-33), further heightening the conflict. How would these leaders have interpreted Jesus’ Parable of the Tenants (Mark 12:1-12)?
- In Mark 12:13-17, the Pharisees and Herodians (see Mark 3:6) were not natural allies, but formed an alliance of convenience to confront and trap Jesus whom they saw as a threat to their power. Since paying taxes to Caesar was very unpopular with many Jews (and some refused to pay it), why is their question a trap?
- The denarius mentioned in Mark 12:15 bore the image of the emperor Tiberius and had these words inscribed: “Augustus Tiberius Caesar, Son of the Divine Augustus.” How does this information shed light on the dilemma of an observant Jew about whether or not to pay tribute to Caesar?
- Can the claims of Caesar and his kingdom co-exist with the claims of God and his kingdom? Why or why not?
- Romans 13:1-7 instructs Christians to submit to authorities, while Acts 4:18-20 describes an incident of civil disobedience by Peter and John. Is it possible to reconcile these passages? If so, how?
- How does a Christian simultaneously practice allegiance to God’s kingdom and allegiance to an earthly kingdom?
- Looking at John 17:13-18, how would you summarize the way a Christian should relate to the world?
- Is your allegiance to worldly values conflicting with your allegiance to kingdom values? If so, what is necessary to correct this?
The following questions will be posted on-line for comments:
- What evidence do you see in Mark 11:1-12:17 of growing conflict between Jesus’ authority and the authority of Jewish and Roman leaders?
- What stood out to you about the way Jesus handles these confrontations?
- Which passage stood out to you in a new way, and why?
- What personal application did you get from this lesson?
- Do you have any other comments about this week’s passage and lesson?