Mark 11: 18 – Reaction of Officials and People

The evangelist closes the account of Jesus’ activities in the Temple (Mk 11, 15-17) with a report of the reactions of the religious leaders and those of the crowd (Mk 11, 18). This is followed by a notice about Jesus’ exit from the city in the evening (Mk 11, 19), mark does not clearly specify the object of what the chief priests and the scribes ‘heard.’ Did they hear from somebody a report about Jesus’ act of cleansing the Temple? Or was it Jesus’ teaching that they heard? Most probably it is the latter that Mark has in his mind and he also mentions the astonished reaction of the crowd to Jesus’ teaching. It is then Jesus’ severe accusation against them and his judgement on the Temple (Mk 11, 17) that the chief priests and the scribes heard and which provoked violent reaction in them against Jesus (Mk 11, 18).

There is a two-fold reaction to Jesus’ teaching. The crowd that is neither committed to Jesus nor opposed to him is astonished at his teaching (cf. Mk 1, 22; 6, 2); Jesus’ adversaries on the other hand react violently against him. But Jesus’ popularity with the crowd induces fear of him in his enemies, and this fear is the reason why they did not arrest Jesus immediately but only sought ways how to destroy him. In Mark 11, 18., the intention of Jesus’ adversaries is spoken of in a general sense ‘to destroy’ him. But in Mark 12, 12., and in Mark 14, 1., their intention is progressively clarified. In Mark 12, 12., they wanted to “arrest” Jesus and in Mark 14, 1., their intention was to “arrest and kill” Jesus. In fact, these verses (Mk 11, 18; 12, 12; 14, 1) are similar in many respects. By progressively specifying the plot of Jesus’ enemies in these verses Mark is alerting his reader in advance to the nearness of the passion. The violent reactions of the adversaries to Jesus’ act of cleansing the Temple and his teaching (Mk 11, 18) indicate that Jesus’ Temple ministry will eventually lead to his death.

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