Mark 11: 17 – Understanding the Teaching of Jesus

Perhaps we should go a little deeper into the theology of Mark in connection with Jesus’ teaching in Mark 11, 17. According to Mark, the person of Jesus, his teaching, and the Temple are closely linked together. By quoting Isaiah 56, 7., Jesus refers to the Temple as his house and therefore, with full right he can teach in the Temple. His teaching itself is about the Temple. it is when Jesus teaches about God’s purpose for the Temple that the Jewish leaders plan to destroy him (Mk 11, 18). Jesus’ saying in Mark 11, 17., is not a mere statement of facts contrasting the original purpose of the Temple of God’s plan and its actual state; it also points to God’s judgement and his plan for the future. The desecrated Temple is not a valid place of worship any longer, neither can it play any further role in God’s salvific plan and therefore it will be destroyed. It will be replaced by a new Temple which will truly be a house of prayer for all nations (all people). Although the teaching in Mark 11, 17., does not clearly point to the New Temple, it certainly has a future orientation. For the evangelist, the saying attributed to Jesus in Mark 14, 58: “I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands,” seems to constitute a progression from Mark 11, 17. Ultimately, it is through Jesus’ death that the New Temple becomes a reality. The Gentile Centurion who makes his faith confession at the moment of Jesus’ death (Mk 15, 39) prefigures the Gentiles who will enter into the New Temple which will be ‘a house of prayer for all nations.’

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