Skip to Content

The King of Hearts



Why did the religious, political, and cultural leaders want to kill meek and mild Jesus? In this talk, Ben Stuart teaches us through Mark 11 and shows us how Jesus confronted the leadership of His nation, challenged the people of His day on the nature of true religion, and revealed what God still wants from us today.

As we continue through the gospel of Mark, the people who are coming in contact with Jesus are loving Him. No one wants Him to die except the religious elite at this point in the story.

He has ridden into the holy city as King, and now we are going to watch Jesus hold court. This is the culmination of His riding into Jerusalem. We are going to see the Son of David ride into the City of David. The Prince of Peace enters Jerusalem, the city of peace, holds court and picks a fight. He arrives in the city on Monday and will be tried and executed on Friday.


Mark 11:12-14. These verses feel a little confusing. Jesus comes into the city, curses a tree, goes into the Temple, and cleans house. Then the disciples see that the tree is dead 24 hours later. The layout is intentional: tree, Temple, tree, Temple. In the Old Testament, the fig tree is a symbol of Israel. The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Joel, and Micah all use it. He is pronouncing judgment on something that has leaves but no figs. It has the appearance of fruitfulness but no fruit. It is the picture of the leadership of Israel, the externals of religion, but the heart is gone.

Mark 11:15-16. Jesus had inspected the Temple the days before. The outer court was massive and open to every nation. The center was where the Jews sacrificed their animals. It used to be that the Jews would buy an unblemished animal on the Mount of Olives, but then the Temple leadership moved it into the outer court to have the exchange of money happen there and get in on that practice. The Jews would then have to walk through the Gentile court, but the unblemished animal, and then go to the center. The leadership had made the Temple court a circus. More than two million people would come in for the feasts. They had taken what was supposed to be a place where the world could sit in quiet reflection before God and made it bedlam.

Imagine how Jesus felt seeing that. We are a Kingdom of Priests. They had taken an area designated for the Gentiles and turned it into a place for their own purposes. So, He curses the tree. He casts judgment on them and kicks them out.

Mark 11:17. Jesus quotes two different prophets. When He says that the Temple should "be a house of prayer for the nations, but it was made a den of robbers," He is saying again that there are leaves but no fruit, external religion but no heart. They have made it business and opportunism, but it was supposed to be for prayer. Prayer is a humble dependence on God and His power.

The leaders of the Temple aren't happy. They have made the Temple the hub of religion, politics, and money. Jesus just shut down their economy on the biggest day of the year. He shamed the leadership publicly. Malachi 3 spoke of this day. The Messiah would come to burn away the dross and scrub off the dirt. Zechariah 14:21 says there will no longer be a trader in the house of the Lord of Hosts.

Mark 11:18. The leadership wanted Jesus dead right then, but they couldn't because they feared Jesus and the mob who loved Jesus.

Mark 11:19. The leadership leaves the city. Jesus brought judgment, and they will respond.


Mark 11:20. The fig tree has withered. He has brought judgment.

Mark 11:27-28. The leadership responds. They basically ask Jesus, "Who do you think you are?" They start to publicly question Him.

Mark 11:29-30. Jesus questions them back by bringing John the Baptist into it. The book of Mark opens with John the Baptist, and it's evident he did not care for money. He acted and looked like a prophet. Prophets had no lineage; the Lord would just raise them up. You had to listen and assess their words to see if they were truly a prophet.

Jesus challenges them to see what they did with the words of John the Baptist. John told them to repent from their sin, humble themselves, and wait for their King. So, what authority did John have? Was it given by God or by man?

Mark 11:31. The leaders have a problem, so they call a quick meeting. They know that if they say that John was from God, then why didn't they sit and learn from him? Why didn't they listen when He called Jesus the Lamb of God? Why not honor John and acknowledge Jesus?

Mark 11:32. The leadership knows they can't say that John the Baptist was from man because they know all the people believe that he was a prophet. In Luke, it says that they know they'll get stoned.

Mark 11:33. Since they can't commit, the leaders say that they don't know. They have the completely wrong perspective. They realize one answer will lose their influence and the other will cost them power. They never ask what's true. They lack sincerity. Their hardness brings darkness. Jesus won't honor their lack of sincerity in seeking truth.

Mark 12:1. Jesus tells the leadership a parable. The vineyard represents God's people. See Isaiah 5:7. The tenants are those in charge, the leadership.

Mark 12:2. In the Old Testament, the prophets were often called servants of God. So, servants were sent to the leadership to see the fruit produced. It's a valid action, like an owner of a company getting profits.

Mark 12:3. The servant, or prophet, was beaten and sent away by the tenants, the leadership. That is an unbelievable action. What would the owner of the vineyard do? A foreign nation would have come, killed all the men, taken the women and children captive, burned everything down, and put salt in the soil of the ground so nothing could ever grow again as an example to others. So, what would this owner do?

Mark 12:4. The owner sends another servant. The tenants mock him.

Mark 12:5. The owner sends another servant, and this one is killed. There is a pattern of rejection. More and more get rejected and killed. The owner is so patient that you start to question the justice of the owner. Your frustration with God when you read the Old Testament is not how quickly He judges; it's how long He waits.

Mark 12:6. Now, the owner sends his own son.

Mark 12:7. We see the motive now. The tenants will kill the son to gain his inheritance. They are saying, "I don't care what God wants. I want influence, money, and power."

Mark 12:8. They killed him and didn't even give him the dignity of a burial. They threw his body over the wall of the vineyard his father built.

Mark 12:9. The owner will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others.

Mark 12:10-11. Jesus quotes the psalm they were quoting about Him when He rode into the city. It's a well-known Messianic psalm. He's telling them, "I'm the son, and you are about to kill me. I am the stone you are rejecting." But the rejection is a judgment of them. Jesus will become the cornerstone.

God is patient and kind, but if you continually spurn His face, you will face judgment. The good news for us is these are the days of grace. Why does God let injustice prevail? Because He is patient with you and with me.

This is not antisemitic. Jesus is calling out the leadership, not the people.

Mark 12:12. So the leadership needs to regroup to try and pin Jesus and turn the crowd.

Mark 12:13-14. A different set of leaders now came to question Jesus about a tax owed to Rome. Rome set a tax on Judea, and the people saw it as an extreme indignity. So they try to set Jesus up in a lose/lose question. If Jesus says yes to paying the tax, He'll lose favor with the crowd. However, if He says to not pay the tax, then they will tattle to Caesar and get Him killed.

Mark 12:15-17. Jesus sees their hypocrisy. His answer is a use of irony. When He asks for the denarius, and they provide it, He's proving that they are part of the system already. They are using Roman currency. Caesar has the right to ask for a tax for all the services and infrastructure he provides. Jesus says to give him his icon, that which was made in his image. Give God what is made in His image: us. He confronts their heart again. We give God what is His, which is our hearts. Does it ever cross your mind who built you? We understand paying into the system to be able to use it. Who manages the system of you? Your breathing, your moving, your thinking? What are your obligations?

Mark 12:18-24. They send in the Sadducees to try and trap Jesus now. They don't believe in the resurrection, so they try to make it look ridiculous. Jesus says back, "Isn't your wrongness due to the fact that you don't know the Scriptures?" They would have been offended by that because they spent their life studying it.

Mark 12:25-26. Since they so concerned themselves with the Torah, Jesus pulls from it and references where God said "I AM the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." The verbal tense matters. God made promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that hadn't come entirely to fulfillment. It's not that He was the God of them. He IS the God of them, and all that He promised will come to pass. He wins on the tense of a verb. He is the God of the living and the dead.

Mark 12:28. Now a scribe enters. Scribes meticulously copied the law. He asks a good question! What is the greatest commandment?

Mark 12:29-31. Jesus answers to love God with all we have, and when we do, we will love others. You will instinctively do everything God has asked of you.

Mark 12:32-33. The scribe says, "You're right!" Jesus just summarized the entire Bible.

Mark 12:34. Jesus encouraged the scribe that he wasn't far from the Kingdom of God. After that, no one asked any other questions.

Jesus challenges us at the root. Do we love Him? Are we willing to let Him challenge us? Do we search sincerely? He doesn't want performance. He wants love. He wants an internal renovation.

Mark 12:35-37. In the Old Testament, God told David that the Messiah would come from His line. Jesus challenges their boundaries of the assumptions of who the Messiah is. So why did David call Him Lord? So who is the Messiah? He will come from the line of David, but David hits his knee and calls Him master. Who is it that the greatest king would call master?

And Jesus just leaves after quoting Scripture about Himself, but He's in a category all His own. He's not a political revolutionary. He's fighting a bigger battle to save us. He is Lord and master of us.

Mark 12: 38-40. Jesus warns about the people who claim to be leaders, but what they love is respect, honor, fame, and prestige for themselves. They will take advantage of the poor and receive greater condemnation.

Mark 12:41. To show how serious He was, Jesus sat down and watched people bring their offerings.

Mark 12:42-44. Jesus calls his disciples over to commend the widow. He tells them to look around at the outward religion on display, acting like they have everything together and that they are good people. However, they just want to save themselves. Jesus wants a heart that lets go of everything but God. A heart that trusts God because He loves us and has a purpose. Jesus watches her give everything, and He is about to do the same.

He's not asking us to do anything that He did not do. He's not just in the line of David. He's the King of Kings. He's not just a prophet or rabbi. He's our Savior. He's our cornerstone that will never put us to shame. Do you know Him? Do you believe Him when He tells you who He is?


"God is patient and kind, but if you continually spurn His face, you will face judgment. The good news for us is these are the days of grace. Why does God let injustice prevail? Because He is patient with you and with me.

Ben Stuart

Discussion Questions

Share message

Message Topics

Scripture References

  • Zechariah 14:21
  • Isaiah 5:7
  • Malachi 3:1-2
  • Micah 7:1-2
  • Jeremiah 8:10
  • Jeremiah 8:12-13
  • Mark 11-12
Ben Stuart Ben Stuart is the pastor of Passion City Church D.C. Prior to joining Passion City Church, Ben served as the executive director of Breakaway Ministries on the campus of Texas A&M. He also earned a master’s degree in historical theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Donna, live to inspire and equip people to walk with God for a lifetime.