It's a busy Friday afternoon, and you're sitting in downtown Indianapolis in the middle of rush hour traffic. The congestion has been building up for an hour. So everything is at a complete standstill.
It's a cacophony of horns blaring, people shouting, cab drivers gesturing. You're hot. You're tired. You just want to get home for the weekend. But nobody knows what to do.
Then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, a young man walks into the middle of the street. He's dressed in regular clothes. He doesn't have a vest or sticks, but he starts directing traffic. And everyone is surprised, but they follow his directing. And within no time, the congestion is cleared up. And traffic is flowing as usual.
But right before he can fade back into the crowd, a police car pulls up. And the traffic cops, who should have been directing, pull him to the side of the road and begin interrogating him. [Fictional story adapted from Tom Wright, Mark for Everyone, 154-55]
This is essentially what is happening in Mk. 11. The Temple leaders hadn't been doing their job. And so this 33-year-old Jesus of Nazareth does it for them-He clears the temple.
In this next section of Mark, the end of chapter 11 through most of chapter 12, we find the religious leaders questioning Jesus' authority. The priests and scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees and lawyers all take their shot at it trying to stump our Lord, with a barrage of well thought-out questions.
Jesus of course will stump them. But He also tells a gruesome story about tenants who want so badly to usurp their landlord's authority that they abuse his messengers and brutally kill his son. In this story we find lessons about God's patient kindness and severe judgment.