Mark 11





1 “And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at

the mount of Olives, He sendeth forth two of His disciples,”  And when they

drew nigh unto Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives.

Matthew (Matthew 21:1) says, "When they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and came

unto Bethphage." Mark mentions the three places together, because Bethphage and

Bethany, being near together, were also both of them close to Jerusalem. The

distance from Jericho to Jerusalem (about seventeen miles) would involve a

journey of about seven hours. The country between Jerusalem and Jericho is hilly,

rugged, and desolate. It is from the height overhanging Bethany that the finest

view of Jerusalem is gained. It appears from John (John 12:1) that our Lord on

the preceding sabbath had supped, and probably passed the night, at Bethany; and

that on the following day (answering to our Palm Sunday) He had come still nearer

to Jerusalem, namely, to Bethphage; and from thence He sent two of His disciples

for the ass and the colt. So His way to Jerusalem was from Bethany by Bethphage,

the Mount of Olives, and the Valley of Jehoshaphat. The Valley of Jehoshaphat,

through which flows the brook Kedron, lies close to Jerusalem. Bethphage literally

means "the house of green figs," as Bethany, lying a short distance west of it,

means "the house of dates." The date palm growing in the neighborhood would

furnish the branches with which the multitude strewed the way on the occasion

of our Lord's triumphal entry. He sendeth two of his disciples. Who were they?

Bede thinks that they were Peter and Philip. Jansonius, with greater probability,

thinks that they were Peter and John, because a little after this Christ sent these

two to prepare for the Passover. But we know nothing certain on this point.


2 “And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as

soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat;

loose him, and bring him.”   Go your way into the village that is over against you.

The village over against them would most likely be Bethphage, towards which they

were then approaching. Straightway as ye enter into it, ye shall find a colt tied,

whereon no man ever yet sat. Mark mentions only the colt. Matthew mentions the ass

and the colt. But Mark singles out the colt as that which our Lord specially needed;

the mother of the animal accompanying it as a sumpter (pack animal). Animals

which had never before been used were alone admissible for sacred purposes.

We read in Numbers (Numbers 19:2) of "the heifer on which never came yoke."

Our Lord here beholds things absent and out of sight, as though they were present.

So that He revealed this to His disciples by the gift of prophecy which His divinity

added to His humanity. Here, therefore, is a manifest proof of His divinity. It was

by the same Divine power that he revealed to Nathanael what had taken place

under the fig tree.  (John 1:48)


3 “And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath

need of him; and straightway he will send him hither.”  The Greek, according

to the best authorities here, is εὐθέως αὐτὸν ἀποστελλει πάλιν ῶδεeutheos auton

apostellei palin ode - literally, straightway he sendeth it back hither again, The verb

here in the present may represent the verb in the future, "he will send it back." But

the word "again" (πάλιν) is not quite so easily explained. There is strong authority

for the insertion of this word, which necessarily changes the meaning of the sentence.

Without the πάλιν, the sentence would actually mean that our Lord, by His Divine

prescience, here tells His disciples that when the colt was demanded by them the

owner would at once permit them to take it. But if the word πάλιν be inserted, it can

only mean that this was a part of the message which our Lord directed His disciples

to deliver as from Himself, "The Lord hath need of him; and he, the Lord, will

forthwith send him back again." The passage is so interpreted by Origen, who

twice introduces the adverb in his commentary on Matthew. The evidence of the

oldest uncials is strongly in favor of this insertion. Our Lord was unwilling that

the disciples should take away the colt if the owner objected, He might have taken

the animals away in his own supreme right, but He chose to accomplish His will by

His providence, powerfully and yet gently; and, if the reading here be allowed, He

further influenced them by the promise that their property should be returned to them.

It was the will and purpose of Christ, who for these three years had gone about on foot,

and traveled over the whole of Palestine in this way, to show Himself at length the

King of Judah, that is, the Messiah and Heir of David; and so He resolves to enter

Jerusalem, the metropolis, the city of the great King, with royal dignity. But He will

not be surrounded with the “pomp and circumstance" of an earthly monarch. He rides

on an ass's colt, that He might show His kingdom to be of another kind, that is,

spiritual and heavenly. And so He assumes a humble equipage, riding upon a colt,

His only housings being the clothes of His disciples. And yet there was dignity as

well as humility in His equipage. The ass of the East was, and is, a superior animal

to that known amongst us. The judges and princes of Israel rode on "white asses,"

and their sons on asses' colts. So our Lord rode upon an ass's colt; and there were

no gleaming swords in his procession, or other signs of strife and bloodshed.

But there were palm branches and garments spread all along His path - the evidences

of devotion to Him. So He came in gentleness, not that He might be feared on account

of His power, but that He might be loved on account of His goodness.


4 “And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place

where two ways met; and they loose him.  5 And certain of them that stood there

said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt?  6 And they said unto them even as

Jesus had commanded: and they let them go.  7 And they brought the colt to Jesus,

and cast their garments on him; and He sat upon him.”  By the door without, in a

place where two ways met (ἐπὶ τοῦ ἀμφόδουepi tou amphodouon the encircling

road;  literally, in the open street).


8 “And many spread their  garments in the way: and others cut down branches

off the trees, and strawed  them in the way.”  Others cut down branches off the

trees, etc. According to the best authorities, the words should be rendered, and

others branches (or, leaves, for strewing), which thy had cut from the fields

(ἄλλοι δὲ στοιβάδας κόψαντες ἐκ τῶν ἀγρῶνalloi de stoibadas kopsantes ek

ton agron). The branches were cut in the fields; and the smaller, leafy portions of

them, suitable for their purpose, were carried out.


9 “And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna;

Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord:”   The word Hosanna literally

means "Oh, save!" It may have been originally the cry of captives or rebels for mercy;

and thus have passed into a general acclamation, expressive of joy and deliverance.


10 “Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of

the Lord: Hosanna  in the highest.”  This verse should be read thus: Blessed be

the kingdom that cometh, the kingdom of our father David - that is, the kingdom

of Messiah, now coming, and about to be established - Hosanna in the highest;

that is, Hosanna in the highest realms of glory and blessedness, where salvation

is perfected.


11 “And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when

He had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, He

went out unto Bethany with the twelve.”   This visit to the temple is not mentioned

by Matthew. It is an important addition to his narrative. The moment of our Lord's

triumphant entry into Jerusalem was not the moment for the display of His indignation

against the profaners of the temple. He was then surrounded by an enthusiastic and

admiring multitude; so He contented Himself on this occasion with looking round

about upon all things (περιβλεψάμενος πάνταperiblepsamenos pantalooking

about all). His keen and searching eye saw at a glance all that was going on, and

penetrated everything. But without any comment or action at that time, He went

out unto Bethany (it was now eventide) with the twelve. No doubt the disciples,

and especially Peter, saw what was involved in this visit of inspection, which

prepared them for what took place on the morrow. (Compare Genesis 18:20-21).




                                    The Triumphant Entry (vs. 1-11)


Christ was a King, but His royalty was misunderstood during His ministry upon earth.

The devil had offered Him the kingdoms of this world, and He had refused them. The

people would have taken Him by force and have made Him a king, but He had hidden

Himself from them. Yet it was right and meet that He should in some way assume a

kingly state and accept royal honors. The triumphal entry interests us, because it

was the acknowledgment and reception of Jesus with the joyful homage due to

Him as King of Israel and King of men.


  • THE OCCASION OF THIS HOMAGE. Our Lord Jesus knew well

            what was to be the issue of this His last visit to the metropolis. He foresaw,

            and He had foretold in the hearing of His disciples, that He was about to be

            put to a violent death. Notwithstanding His clear perception of this His

            approaching sacrifice, He had come cheerfully to the city where He was to

            share the fate of the prophets. It is absurd to draw from this narrative the

            inference that Jesus was now looking for popular and national acceptance;

            He was not so misled. But it is remarkable that He should choose to receive

            the homage of the multitude almost upon the eve of His betrayal and

            condemnation. In His apprehension, the Priesthood and the Kingship of the

            Messiah were most closely connected. And to our minds there is no

            discordance between the sorrows Jesus was about to endure and the

            honors He now consented to accept. The occasion was well chosen, and

            brings before us our Lord’s independence of all human standards and

            preconceptions. Ours was a King whose royalty suffered no tarnishing of

            its splendor when He rode in majesty, although He rode to death.




Ø      It was the scene of His ministry. In and near Jerusalem many of

      Christ’s mighty works had been wrought, many of His discourses

      had been delivered, many of His disciples had been made. It was   

      becoming that for once, in this scene of His labors, His claims

      should be publicly recognized and His honor publicly displayed.


Ø      It was to be the scene of His martyrdom and sacrifice. It has often

      been noted, as a witness to human fickleness, that the same roads

      and public places should within a few days resound with the

      incongruous shouts, “Hosanna!” and “Crucify him!” How true

      was the language of Pilate — they crucified their King! (John 19:15)

      On the one hand, it could not be that a prophet should perish out of           

      Jerusalem (Luke 13:33); on the other hand, it was fitting that the city

      of David should openly welcome and acknowledge David’s Son and         

      David’s Lord, and the establishment of the predicted kingdom.


  • THE OFFERERS OF THE HOMAGE. There were, amongst those

            who welcomed Jesus, His own attendants and disciples, the villagers from

            Bethany, the citizens of Jerusalem, and the Galilean pilgrims who had come

            up to the feast. The multitude was a very varied and representative crowd;

            including Israelites of many classes, and doubtless differing from one

            another in the measure of their knowledge of Jesus and their appreciation

            of His character and His Claims. As is often the case when Christ is extolled

            and praised, some were drawn into the general enthusiasm and rejoicing by

            the force of example and under the inspiration of feeling. The general

            welcome was an anticipation of the honor which shall be rendered to Jesus,

            when “every tongue shall acknowledge him to be Lord, to the glory of

            God the Father.”  (Philippians 2:11)



            simple circumstances of this entry, so natural and almost childlike, are all

            significant of our Savior’s dignity and majesty. Mark mentions only

            the colt. Matthew mentions the ass and the colt. But Mark singles out the

            colt as that which our Lord specially needed; the mother of the animal       

            accompanying it as a sumpter. Animals which had never before been

            used were alone admissible for sacred purposes. We read in Numbers

            (19:2) of “the heifer on which never came yoke.” Our Lord here

            beholds things absent and out of sight, as though they were present. So that

            He revealed this to His disciples by the gift of prophecy which His divinity

            added to His humanity. Here, therefore, is a manifest proof of His divinity.

            It was by the same Divine power that he revealed to Nathanael what had

            taken place under the fig tree.  (John 1:47-48)  In the bringing of the ass’s

            colt for Him to ride, there was a fulfillment of an ancient prediction;

            (Zechariah 9:9) and the act itself, according to the usage of the East, was  

            becoming to royalty. In the spreading of their garments upon the foal’s back,

            the strewing the road with their clothes and with the branches of trees, there

            was a picturesque, if very simple, expression of their admiring reverence and         

            loyalty.  It was the will and purpose of Christ, who for these three years had

            gone about on foot, and traveled over the whole of Palestine in this way, to

            show Himself at length the King of Judah, that is, the Messiah and Heir of

            David; and so He resolves to enter Jerusalem, the metropolis, the city of the

            great King, with royal dignity. But He will not be surrounded with the”

            pomp and circumstance” of an earthly monarch. He rides on an ass’s colt,

            that He might show His kingdom to be of another kind, that is, spiritual and

            heavenly. And so He assumes a humble equipage, riding upon a colt, His

            only housings being the clothes of His disciples. And yet there was dignity

            as well as humility in His equipage. The ass of the East was, and is, a

            superior animal to that known amongst us. The judges and princes of Israel

            rode on “white asses,” (Judges 5:10) and their sons on asses’ colts. (Judges

            10:4)  So our Lord rode upon an ass’s colt; and there were no gleaming swords

            in His procession, or other signs of strife and bloodshed. But there were palm       

            branches and garments spread all along His path — the evidences of devotion to  

            Him. So He came in gentleness, not that He might be feared on account of His     

            power, but that he might be loved on account of his goodness.



            The unpremeditated shouts and exclamations with which Jesus was greeted

            were an expression of fervid, popular sentiment. Yet they were also to

            some extent a confession of Jesus’ Messiah-ship and an acknowledgment

            of His royalty.


Ø      Notice the character in which they hailed him: He came “in the

      Name of the Lord;” He brought in” the kingdom of David.” Drawn

      from Hebrew prophecy, these appellations could not be used without         

      very special significance.


Ø      Notice the joyous language in which they hailed Him. They called

                        Him “Blessed”!  They greeted Him with the cry, “Hosanna in

                        highest!  that is, Hosanna in the highest realms of glory and

                        blessedness, where salvation is perfected.  The word Hosanna

                        means “Oh, save!” It may have been originally the cry of captives or

                        rebels for mercy; and thus have passed into a general acclamation,

                        expressive of joy and deliverance.  It was enthusiastic and lofty

                        language; but meaner terms would have been inappropriate,

                        unworthy, and unjust.



      were conscious of it as they shouted. Their words are a quotation from Psalm



Ø      ‘Hosanna!’ The word was a Hebrew imperative, ‘Save us, we beseech

                        thee,’ and had come into liturgical use from Psalm 118. That psalm

                        belonged specially to the Feast of Tabernacles, and as such was

                        naturally associated with the palm branches; the verses from it now

                        chanted by the people are said to have been those with which the

                        inhabitants of Jerusalem were wont to welcome the pilgrims who

                        came up to keep the feast. The addition of ‘Hosanna to the Son of

                        David’ made it a direct recognition of the claims of Jesus to be the

                        Christ; that of ‘Hosanna in the highest’ (comp. Luke 2:14) claimed

                        heaven as in accord with earth in this recognition.


Ø      ‘Blessed be [‘the King,’ in Luke] He that cometh in the Name

      of the Lord.’ These words, too, received a special, personal

      application. The welcome was now given, not to the crowd of

      pilgrims, but to the King.


Ø      As in Luke, one of the cries was an echo of the angels’ hymn

      at the Nativity, ‘Peace on earth, and glory in the highest’ (Luke



Ø      ‘Blessed be the kingdom of our father David.’ We have to think

      of these shouts as filling the air as he rides slowly on in silence. He

                        will not check them at the bidding of the Pharisees (Luke 19:39).

                        Yet, because of the unpreparedness of the people, the fulfillment was

                        only provisional, not ultimate; typical, not actual. In its spiritual idea,

                        its universal influence - “all the city was moved”,  its spontaneous

                        acclaim, it spoke of that which is to come; in its outwardness, its

                        question, “Who is this?” and answer, “This is Jesus, the Prophet

                        of Nazareth of Galilee(Matthew 21:10-11),  its readiness to pass

                        from praise to execration, it showed how distant the people were

                        from the true realization.


(Compare Luke 19:37-44)And when He was come nigh, even now at the descent of

the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise

God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen;  Saying,

Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and

glory in the highest.  And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said

unto Him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.  And He answered and said unto them, I

tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

And when He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it,  Saying, If

thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong

unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.  For the days shall come

upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee

round, and keep thee in on every side,  And shall lay thee even with the ground,

and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon


(Like Sodom, the Jews, had they only known, were on the verge of an apocalypse,

which only depended upon their spiritual preparedness. (Reader, don’t you sense

the feeling that we too are on the verge of The Apocalypse?  Jesus said, “When

ye see these things come to pass, know ye that it is nigh, even at the doors” [ch.

13:29] – CY – 2010) 



                        THE LESSON OF THE BARREN FIG TREE


12 “And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, He was hungry:”

This was, therefore, the day after Palm Sunday (as we call it) - on the Monday,

the 11th day of the month Nisan, which, according to our computation, would

be March 21. He hungered. This showed His humanity, which He was ever wont

to do when He was about to display His Divine power. The fact that He hungered

would lead us to the conclusion that He had not been spending the night in the

house of Martha and Mary. It is far more likely that He had been in the open air

during the previous night, fasting and praying.


13 “And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, He came, if haply He

might find any thing thereon: and when He came to it, He found nothing but

leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.”  And seeing a fig tree afar off having

leaves, He came, if haply He might find anything thereon. Matthew (Matthew

21:19) says He saw "one fig tree" (μὶαν συκῆνmian sukaen), and therefore more

conspicuous. Fig trees were no doubt plentiful in the neighborhood of Bethphage,

"the house of figs." Dean Stanley ('Sinai and Palestine,' p. 418) says that "Mount

Olivet is still sprinkled with fig trees." This fig tree had leaves, but no fruit; for it

was not the season of figs (ὁ γὰρ καιρὸς οὐκ ῆν σύκωνho gar kairos ouk aen sukon

for it was not season of figs). Other trees would all be bare at this early season, but

the fig trees would be putting forth their broad green leaves. It is possible that this

tree, standing by itself as it would seem, was more forward than the other fig trees

around. It was seen "from afar," and therefore it must have had the full benefit of

the sun. Our Lord says (Luke 21:29), "Behold the fig tree, and all the trees: when

they now shoot forth, ye see it, and know of your own selves that the summer is

now nigh." He puts the fig tree first, as being of its own nature the most forward

to put forth its buds. But then it is peculiar to the fig tree that its fruit begins to

appear before its leaves. It was, therefore, a natural supposition that on this tree,

with its leaves fully developed, there might be found at least some ripened fruit.

Our Lord, therefore, approaches the tree in His hunger, with the expectation of

finding fruit. But as He draws near to it, and realizes the fact that the tree, though

full of leaf, is absolutely fruitless, He forgets His natural hunger in the thought

of the spiritual figure which this tree began to present to His mind. The accident

of His hunger as a man, brought Him into contact with a great parable of spiritual

things, presented to Him as God; and as He approached this fig tree full of leaf,

but destitute of fruit, there stood before him the striking but awful image of the

Jewish nation, having indeed the leaves of a great profession, but yielding no fruit.

The leaves of this fig tree deceived the passer-by, who, from seeing them, would

naturally expect the fruit. And so the fig tree was cursed, not for being barren,

but for being false. When our Lord, being hungry, sought figs on the fig tree,

He signified that He hungered after something which He did not find. The Jews

were this unprofitable fig tree, full of the leaves of profession, but fruitless.

Our Lord never did anything without reason; and, therefore, when He seemed

to do anything without reason, He was setting forth in a figure some great reality.

Nothing but His Divine yearning after the Jewish people, His spiritual hunger for

their salvation, can explain this typical action with regard to the fig tree, and indeed

the whole mystery of His life and death.   (I recommend Spurgeon Sermon –

Mark 11 - Nothing but Leaves - #1091 – this website – CY – 2019)


14 “And Jesus answered and said unto it,  No man eat fruit of thee hereafter

for ever. And His disciples heard it”  No man eat fruit from thee henceforward

for ever (εἰς τὸν αἰῶναeis ton aionainto the eon). These words, in their

application to the Jewish nation, have a merciful limitation - a limitation which

lies in the original words rendered "for ever," which literally mean for the age.

"No man eat fruit of thee henceforward, for the age;" until the times of the

Gentiles be fulfilled. A day will doubtless come when Israel, which now says,

"I am a dry tree"  (Isaiah 56:3), shall accept the words of its true Lord, "From

me is thy fruit found" (Hosea 14:8), and shall be clothed with the richest fruits

of all trees. (See Trench on the Miracles). Matthew (Matthew 21:19) tells us that

"immediately the fig tree withered away." "Straightway a shivering fear and

trembling passed through its leaves, as though it was at once struck to the heart

by the malediction of its Creator." Our Lord's disciples heard His words; but they

appear not to have noticed the immediate effect of them upon the tree. It was not

until the next day that they observed what had happened. This miracle would

show His disciples how soon He could have withered His enemies, who were

about to crucify Him; but He waited with long-suffering for their salvation,

by repentance and faith in Him.


                                    JESUS CLEANSES THE TEMPLE


15 “And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and

began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the

tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves;”

And they come to Jerusalem: and He entered into the temple. Not the holy place,

nor the holy of holies (into which the high priest might alone enter), but into the

temple court; for into that the people went to pray, and to witness the sacrifices

which were being offered before the holy place; for this court was, so to speak,

the temple of the people. Our Lord was not a Levitical priest, because He was

not sprung of Levi and Aaron. Therefore He could not enter the holy place,

but only the outer court of the temple. And began to cast out (ἐκβάλλεινekballein

to be casting out) - it was a forcible expulsion - them that sold and them that bought

in the temple. There were two occasions on which our Lord thus purged the temple:

one at the beginning of his public ministry, and the other at the end of it, four days

before His death. There was a regular market in the outer court,' the court of the

Gentiles, belonging to the family of the high priest. The booths of this market are

mentioned in the rabbinical writings as the booths of the son of Hanan, or Annas.

But this market is never mentioned in the Old Testament. It seems to have sprung

up after the Captivity. Our Lord adopted these strong measures


(1) because the temple courts were not the proper places for merchandise, and

(2) because these transactions were often dishonest, on account of the avarice

and covetousness of the priests.


The priests, either themselves or by their families, sold oxen and sheep and doves

to those who had need to offer them in the temple. These animals were, of course,

needed for sacrifices; and there was good reason why they should be ready at hand

for those who came up to worship. But the sin of the priests lay in permitting this

buying and selling to go on within the sacred precincts, and in trading dishonestly.

There were other things needed for the sacrifices, such as wine, and salt, and oil.

Then there were also the money-changers (κολλυβιστήςkollubistaes), from

κόλλυβοςkollubos - , a small coin) - those who exchanged large coins for

smaller, or foreign money for the half-shekel. Every Israelite, whether rich or

poor, was required to give the half-shekel, neither less nor more. So when money

had to be exchanged, an allowance or premium was required by the money-changer.

Doves or pigeons were required on various occasions for offerings, chiefly by the

poor, who could not afford more costly offerings. From these also the priests had

their gain. The seats of them that sold the doves. These birds were often sold by

women, who were provided with seats.


16 “And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the

temple.”  And he would not suffer that any man should carry a vessel through

the temple. It was a great temptation to make the temple, at least the great court

of the Gentiles, a thoroughfare. It was so extensive that a long and tedious circuit

would be avoided, in going from one part of the city to another, by passing through

it. To those, for example, who were passing from the sheep market, Bethesda, into

the upper part of the city, the shortest cut was through this court and by Solomon's

Porch. The distance would be greatly increased if they went round it. So the priests

permitted servants and laborers, laden with anything, to take this shorter way

through the great court of the temple. But our Lord hindered them, forbidding

them with the voice of one that had authority, and restraining them with His

hand, and compelling them to go back. He would have the whole of His Father's

House regarded as sacred. (Ezekiel 43:12)


17 “And He taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called

of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.”

My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations (πᾶσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν

pasi tois ethnesinto all the nations). Mark, writing for Gentiles, assures them that

the God of the Jews is the God of all the nations; and that the court of the Gentiles,

which was then so profaned, was a constituent part of His house of prayer. St. Jerome

notes Christ's action in driving out the profaners of the temple as a great proof of His

Divine power, that He alone should have been able to cast out so great a multitude.

He says, "A fiery splendor flashed from his eyes, and the majesty of Deity shone in

His countenance." The words, "My house shall be called the house of prayer," are a

quotation from Isaiah 56:7; and it is a remarkable coincidence that in v. 11 of that

chapter the rulers of the people are described as looking "every one for his gain

from his quarter." A den of thieves (σπήλαιον ληστῶνspaelaion laeston

cave of robbers); this should be rendered, a den of robbers. The Greek word for

"thief" is κλέπτηςkleptaes, not ληστήςlaestaes - robber. The two terms are

carefully distinguished in John (John 10:1), "the same is a thief (κλέπτης) and a

robber (λῃστής)." These priests, wholly intent upon gain, by various fraudulent

acts plundered strangers and the poor, who came purchase offerings for the worship

of God. Observe that the temple is called the house of God, not because He dwells in

it in any corporeal sense, for "He dwelleth not in temples made with hands"

(Acts 7:48; 17:24; I Kings 8:27; II Chronicles 2:6), but because the temple is the

place set apart for the worship of God, in which He specially gives ear to the

prayers of His people, and in which He specially promises His spiritual presence.

Hence we learn what reverence is due to the houses of God; so that, as the master

of a house resents any insult offered to his house as an insult to himself, so Christ

reckons any willful dishonor done to His house as a wrong and insult to Him.


18 “And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might

destroy Him: for they feared Him, because all the people was astonished

at His doctrine.”  And the chief priests and the scribes - this is the right order

of the words - heard it (ἤκουσανaekousan - hear), and sought (ἐζήτουν

ezaetounthey sought; began to seek, or were seeking (imperfect) - how they

might destroy Him (ἀπολέσουσινapolesousinthey shall be destroying).

They were seeking how they might, not only put Him to death, but "utterly

destroy Him," stamp out his name and influence as a great spiritual energy in

the world. This action of His raised them to the highest pitch of fury and

indignation. Their authority and their interests were attacked. But the people

still acknowledged His power; and the scribes and Pharisees feared the people.


19 “And when even was come, He went out of the city.”  And when even was come;

literally, and whenever (ὅτανhotan - when) evening came; that is, every evening.

During these last days before His crucifixion, He remained in Jerusalem during the

day, and went back to Bethany at night. Matthew says (Matthew 21:17), speaking

of one of these days, "And He left them, and went forth out of the city to Bethany,

and lodged there." So true it was that "He came unto his own, and His own received

Him not." (John 1:11)  No one in that city, which He loved so well, offered to receive

Him. The end was drawing near. But the fellowship of Martha and Mary must have

been soothing to Him; and Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem.

(Dear Reader, the 12th verse of John 1 says “But as many

as received Him, to them gave He power, to become the sons of God, even to

them that believe on His name”!  Will you not receive Him today? – CY – 2010)


20 “And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from

the roots.  21 And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto Him, Master,

behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.”  And as they passed

by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away from the roots. They had

returned the evening before, probably after sunset, to Bethany; and so, in the twilight,

had not noticed the withered tree. Matthew gathers the whole account of the fig tree

into one notice. Mark disposes of the facts in their chronological order. It was on the

Monday morning, the day after the triumphant entry, and when they were on their

way to Jerusalem, that our Lord cursed the fig tree. Thence He passed on at once

into Jerusalem, and drove out the profaners of the temple, and taught the people.

In the evening He returned to Bethany; and then on the next morning, as they

were on their way into the city, they saw what had happened to the fig tree.

And then Peter calling to remembrance saith unto Him; Rabbi, behold, the fig tree

which thou cursedst is withered away (ἐξήρανταιexaerantaihas withered),

the same Greek word as in the preceding verse.


22 “And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.  23 For

verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou

removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall

believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have

whatsoever he saith.”   Have faith in God; literally, have the faith of God - full,

perfect, effectual faith in Him; faith like a grain of mustard seed. You may be

staggered and perplexed at what you will see shortly; but "have faith in God."

The Jews may seem for a time to flourish like that green fig tree; but they will

"soon be cut down as the grass, and be withered as the green herb." What seems

difficult to you is easy with God. Trust in the Divine omnipotence. The things

which are impossible with men are possible with him. Our Lord then uses a

metaphor frequently employed to indicate the accomplishment of things so

difficult as to be apparently impossible. He employs a bold and vivid hyperbole;

and, pointing probably to the Mount of Olives overhanging them, and on the

shoulders of which they were then standing, He says, "With this faith you might say

to this mountain, Be thou taken up and cast into the sea, and it shall come to pass."


24 “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray,

believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”  All things whatsoever ye

pray and ask for, believe that ye have received them; and ye shall have them. But you

must "ask in faith, nothing wavering."  (James 1:6)


25 “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your

Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”  And wheresoever

ye stand praying (στήκητε προσευχόμενοιstaekaete proseuchomenoiye may be

standing praying). The ordinary attitude of Eastern nations in prayer is here indicated,

namely, "standing," with the head, doubtless, bowed in reverence. The promise of this

text is that requests offered in prayer by a faithful heart will be granted - granted as

God knows best. The connection of these verses with the former is close. One great

hindrance to the faith without which there can be no spiritual power, is the presence

of angry and uncharitable feelings. These must all be put away if we would hope

for a favorable answer from God.


26 “But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven

forgive your trespasses.”  There appears to be sufficient evidence to justify the

Revisers in their omission of this verse; although its omission or retention does not

affect the general exegesis of the passage.




                        The Fruit of the Fruitless Fig Tree (vs. 12-14, 19-25)


This action of our Lord Jesus is one of the very few He is recorded to have performed to

which exception has been taken. It has been objected that the “cursing” of the fig tree

was a vindictive act, and unlike and unworthy of the gracious and beneficent Redeemer.

In answer to this objection, a distinction must be drawn between a vindictive and a

judicial proceeding; the latter having no element of personal irritation or ill feeling.

It must not be forgotten that the Lord Jesus was and is the Judge, and this symbolical

action was a picture of His judicial function in exercise. It has also been objected that

the doom pronounced and carried into effect was unjust, inasmuch as the season for

figs had not yet come, and Jesus looked for what, in the nature of things, it was not

reasonable to expect.  In  answer to this, it must be remembered that trees have no

consciousness, and no capacity for sentient suffering; and that, in the analogous case

of the barren professor of religion, no sentence of condemnation is pronounced except

as the consequence of moral culpability.  This passage has two distinct movements,

each containing its own spiritual lesson impressively conveyed.




Ø      The fruitless fig tree is an emblem of the immoral or useless professor

      of Christianity. Leaves are beautiful in themselves, are indicative of

      life and vital vigor, and seem to promise fruit; yet, in the case of such

      trees as that here spoken of, it is the fruit which is the end for which

      the tree is allowed to occupy ground, to absorb nourishment, to

      engage the toil of the husbandman or gardener. It is so in the moral            

      domain. The foliage corresponds to outward position, to visible

      standing, and audible confession. These are excellent and admirable

      where they are not deceptive. But where there is “nothing but leaves”

      to meet the eye of the husbandman, where there is the “name to live”       

      without the life, ( like the church of Sardis – Revelation 3:1) where

      there is the language of belief and of devotion with no corresponding        

      principles and conduct, — all this is disappointing to the Divine     

      Husbandman and Vine-dresser.  (Reader, I recommend – Mark 11 -

      Spurgeon Sermon – Nothing But Leaves – this web site – CY – 2010)


Ø      The withering of the fig tree is symbolical of the moral doom and

                        destruction of the unfruitful professor of religion. The tree may live,

                        although it bear no fruit. But the fruitless Christian carries his own

                        condemnatiou within him. The Lord who came to earth to save,

                        lives in heaven to reign, and finally will return to judge. It would not

                        be just to found an argument upon what is but an illustration

                        Nevertheless, there is very much express teaching from our Lord’s lips

                        as to the doom of the hypocrite. The fruitless scribes and Pharisees

                        incurred His anger and His condemnation; and there is no reason to

                        suppose that those more privileged, and equally false and spiritually

                        worthless, can escape their doom. To be fruitless is to “wither away.”

                        For the barren there is no place in the vineyard of God.



      PRAYER.  It is a lesson we should scarcely have expected to find attached

      to this miracle. The amazement of Peter and the other disciples was excited

      by this exercise of power on the part of the Master. In reply to their expressions

      of wonder, Jesus, who was ever ready to give to the conversation a practical

      and profitable turn, discoursed upon the power of faith and prayer.


Ø      Faith gives efficacy to effort. It removes mountains. But such is not

      the work of the doubter or of the vacillating. All moral miracles and           

      spiritual triumphs are due to the faith which is placed, not in human

      skill or power, but in God Himself.


Ø      Faith gives efficacy to prayer. There are those who are mighty in

      prayer.  This is because they believe in God, to whom “all things

      are possible.”  Hesitating, half-hearted prayer is dishonoring to God.

      We are directed to believe that we have received, at the very moment        

      when we offer our entreaties; which is certainly only possible to

      strong faith. Yet what encouragement is there so to pray!


Ø      The works which may in this manner be accomplished, the blessings

                        which may thus be obtained, are described in remarkable language.

                        Trees may be withered, mountains may be removed, all things may

                        be had, by those who have faith. No wonder that the poet says of faith,

                        it —


                                                “Laughs at impossibilities,

                                                And cries, ‘It shall be done!”


Ø      Yet there is a condition of a moral kind laid down by Christ. A

      sincere and forgiving disposition is indispensable. If we appeal to

      a gracious and benignant Father, if we ask of Him needed forgiveness,

      we must approach Him with a mind unstained by wrath, by malice, by

      any lack of charity.





                                    The Holy House (vs. 15-18)


It is significant that our Lord should have performed the authoritative and symbolical

act of cleansing the temple twice — at the commencement, (John 2:13-17) and here,

again at the close of His ministry, four days before His death.   We learn that no real

reformation had taken place in the religious habits of the chief priests and the people

who frequented the holy place; they continued to practice the abuses which had been

already so justly and so sternly rebuked.  And we learn also that Jesus, although hated

and despised by the rulers, had abated none of His claims to authority and jurisdiction!





Ø      This was the abuse of the temple. The holy house had been erected

      for the manifestation of the Divine glory, the celebration of Divine            

      worship, the realization of Divine communion. No other material

      structure has ever possessed the sanctity which attached to this.

      There were grades of sanctity, culminating in the holy of holies; yet

      all the precincts and courts were consecrated to the God of Israel.

      (“This is the law of the  house; Upon the top of the mountain

      the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy.  Behold

      this is the law of the house.” – Ezekiel 43:12 – I should think that

      the modern church should rethink their turning of vestibules into

      markets – CY – 2010)   To turn such a building to any secular purpose

      was an unjustifiable abuse. 


Ø      The profanation of the temple. Three stages of profanation were

                        referred to: vessels used for common purposes were carried through

                        the courts; money was exchanged — foreign money,

                        with the images, the superscription, the symbols, which denoted

                        heathenism, for the shekels of the sanctuary; and doves and other

                        victims, used for sacrifice and offerings, were openly bought and sold

                        Turning the sacred precincts to purposes of gain was a heinous offense

                        against the majesty of the Lord of the temple. 


Ø      But even this was not the worst, for there is implied the violation of

      the temple. The traffic which took place was distinguished by injustice

                        and fraud: “Ye have made it a den of robbers.” The family of the high

                        priest are known to have made this merchandise a source of unlawful

                        gain. In the exchange of money there was unfairness, in the sale of

                        animals there was extortion. It was bad enough that in the Lord’s

                        house there should be trading, it was far worse that there should be

                        rapacity and fraud.




Ø      This was independent. Jesus took counsel of no one, but acted of His

                        own accord, as One who had no superior to whom to refer. He acted in

                        His own Name and in that of His Father.


Ø      It was peremptory. We feel that it was but seldom that the meek and

                        lowly Jesus acted as on this occasion. There was an unsparing severity

                        in His action and in His language, when rescuing the holy house from

                        the profane intruders. He did well to be angry.


ü      It was impressive. The priests, who profited by the robbery, were

                        enraged; the scribes, who resented the exercise of authority by the

                        Nazarene, were incensed; and the people, who witnessed this

                        remarkable act, were astonished.



            INTERFERENCE. Our Lord not only acted; He taught and explained the

            meaning of His action. We cannot suppose that He was animated by any

            superstitious feelings in so acting, and the record shows us what were His



Ø      He regarded the temple as the house of His Father, God.


Ø      It was in his view the house of prayer, and was to be reserved for

                        communion between human spirits and Him who is the Father of



Ø      And it was intended for the service of all nations, which gave it a

                        peculiar dignity and sacredness in His eyes. These considerations

                        show why a Teacher, whose whole teaching was peculiarly spiritual,                                  

                        should display a zeal for the sanctity of a local and material

                        representation of the Divine presence.




ü      Its immediate effect was to provoke the dread, the malice, and the

      plots of the scribes and priests. The incident occurred but a few days         

      before our Lord’s crucifixion, and it appears to have led to that awful        

      event. In their own interests, the religious leaders of the Jews felt   

      themselves constrained to crush the power of One whose conduct and       

      teaching were so inconsistent with their own. Thus one of the highest        

      exercises of our Lord’s righteous authority was the occasion of His

                        most cruel humiliation and shameful death. 


ü      Its more remote effect has been to enhance the conception entertained

      of Christ’s character and official dignity and power. Humanity is God’s   

      true temple, too long defiled by the occupation of the spiritual foe, and

                        desecrated to the service of sin. Christ is the Divine Purifier, who

                        dispossesses the enemy, and restores the sanctuary to its destined ends,

                        the indwelling, the worship, and the glory of the Eternal!  - “What?

                        Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost

                        which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?         

                        For ye are bought with a price:  therefore glorify God in your

                        body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”  (I Corinthians 6:19-20)





27 “And they come again to Jerusalem: and as He was walking in the

temple, there come to Him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders,

28 And say unto Him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave

thee this authority to do these things?”  By what authority doest then these things?

We learn from v. 18 that the chief priests and scribes had already been seeking how

they might destroy Him, and they wanted to establish some definite charge, whether

of blasphemy or of sedition, against Him. They now approach Him as He walked in

the temple, and demand by what authority He was doing these things, such as

casting out the profaners of the temple, teaching and instructing the people,

accepting their Hosannas, etc. And who gave thee this authority to do these things?

According to the best reading, this sentence should run, or (ἘνEn instead of

καὶ - kai) who gave thee, etc., instead of "and who gave thee," etc. So that the

questions are directed to two things - was His authority inherent? or, was it derived?


29 “And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question,

and answer me, and I will tell you by what  authority I do these things.” I will ask

of you one question (ἐπερωτήσω ὑμᾶς ἕνα λόγονeperotaeso humas hena logon –

shall be inquiring of you one word). The verb justifies the translation, one question,

for "one word." The question which our Lord put to them was one on which hung

the solution of that proposed by the scribes. It is as though he said, "You do not

believe me when I say that I have received power from God. Believe then John

the Baptist, who bare witness of me that I was sent from God to do these things."


30 “The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me.”

By the "baptism of John" our Lord means his testimony concerning Himself,

His doctrine, and all His preaching. It is a synecdoche - the part put for the whole.

The argument is incontrovertible. It is this: "You ask from whence I derive my

authority - from God or from men? I in my turn ask you from whom did John

the Baptist derive his authority to baptize and to teach? from heaven or from men?

If he had it from God, as all will confess, then I too have the same from God; for

John testified of me, saying that he was but a servant, the friend of the Bridegroom;

but that I was the Messiah, the Son of God: and this too when you sent messengers

to him for his special purpose, that you might know from him whether he was the

Messias." (See John 1:20; 10:41.) Answer me. This is characteristic of Mark's style,

and of our Lord's dignified earnestness.


31 “And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say,

From heaven; He will say, Why then did ye not believe him? 

32 But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted

John, that he was a prophet indeed.”  They reasoned with themselves,

(like men anxious and perplexed)  If we shall say, From heaven; He will say,

Why then did ye not believe him? For he told you I was the promised Messias,

and bade you prepare yourselves by repentance to receive my grace and

salvation.  But should we say, From men — they feared the people: for all

verily held John to be a prophet.”   This is a broken sentence, but very expressive. 

The evangelist leaves his reader to supply what they meant. They deemed it prudent

not to finish the sentence; and probably cut it short with some significant gesture.

They did not like to confess that they feared the people; although this was the true

reason why they hesitated to say that John’s baptism was of men. They knew that

all the people held John to be a prophet. They were thus thrown on one or other

horn of a dilemma.


33 “And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell. And Jesus

answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I

do these things.”  We know not. They had seen the life of John. They had

heard His holy and Divine teaching. They were witnesses to His death for

THE TRUTH; and yet they lie.  They might have said,” We think it imprudent

or inexpedient to say;” but for this they had not sufficient moral courage. 

Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.”  You will not answer

my question; neither will I therefore answer yours; because your answer to mine

is the answer to your own. “He thus shows,” says St. Jerome, “that they knew,

but would not answer; and that He knew, but did not speak, because they were

silent as to what they knew.” Our Lord did thus but mete out to them the measure

which they meted to Him.  (An example of God taking man in his own craftiness!

I Corinthians 3:19; Job 5:13 -  CY – 2019)




                                    Authority Vindicated (vs. 27-33)


The conflict between the Divine Prophet and the leaders of the Jewish people was now

at its height. Jesus knew that His hour was at hand, and no longer either concealed

Himself, or restrained His tongue from words of merited indignation, rebuke, and

almost defiance. Thus the enmity of His foes was provoked, and His condemnation

was assured.



            EXERCISED. In three respects this was now made most plain.


Ø      The teaching of Jesus at this time was characterized by the

      assumption of a superiority of knowledge and insight which must

      have been galling to the pride of His questioners, and which they

      may have deemed altogether arrogant.


Ø      His public entry into Jerusalem in a kind of kingly state must have

                        aroused their hostility; for, without courting their favor or support,

                        He took to Himself the homage due to the King of Israel


Ø      His cleansing of the temple was an authoritative act, which was felt

      all the more acutely by His enemies as an attack upon themselves,

      because their own practices were rebuked and their own credit was

      threatened, not to say that the base gains of some of them were

      imperiled. In these respects Christ claimed and exercised a special

      and vast authority.



            IMPUGNED.  It is evident that it was a formal deputation which

            surrounded Him in the temple, and sought to overawe and silence Him by

            the question which they put: “By what authority doest thou these things?

            and who gave it thee?” There was on their part the assumption of their

            own judicial right to inquire, to silence, to condemn. They had acted in a

            very similar manner with respect to John the Baptist. To us this deputation,

            and its inquisitorial proceedings, are interesting, because they conclusively

            establish the fact that the Lord Jesus did claim to act as none other acted,

            and thus aroused the hostility of his unsympathizing and unspiritual foes.



            HIMSELF. The way in which He did this is remarkable.


Ø      Why did not Jesus directly account for His actions to the priests,

      scribes, and elders? Because He had done no wrong; in the acts He

      had publicly performed there was nothing for which they dared

      expressly to impugn Him. Because they themselves had corruptly

      suffered and justified one of the evils which he had redressed. To this

      their conscience testified.  Because, being unable to defend their own        

      position, they could not be allowed to attack His. Because, above all,         

      being what He was, (the Only Begotten Son of God sent to redeem

      the world) He was not accountable, either to them or to others, for His      



Ø      Why did Jesus vindicate Himself by retorting upon His assailants? by

                        reducing them to helpless silence? Because He thus made evident the

                        agreement between John’s ministry and His own. It was well known

                        that John had confessed Jesus to be the One who should come, the

                        Messiah.  (John 1:29-33, 3:26-36)  Jesus appealed to John’s witness,

                        at the same time claiming to have greater witness than that of John

                         (John 5:32-40)   By the “baptism of John” our Lord means his

                        testimony concerning Himself, His doctrine, and all His preaching. It

                        is a synecdoche —  the part put for the whole. The argument is       

                        incontrovertible. It is this: “You ask from whence I derive my

                        authority — from God or from men? I in my turn ask you from whom

                        did John the Baptist derive his authority to baptize and to teach? from

                        heaven or from men? If he had it from God, as all will confess, then I

                        too have the same from God; for John testified of me, saying that he

                        was but a servant, the friend of the Bridegroom; but that I was the

                        Messiah, the Son of God: and this too when you sent messengers

                        to him for his special purpose, that you might know from him whether

                        he was the Messias.”   John said “I am not the Christ” (John 1:20)

                        and the Jews own testimony was “all things that John spake of this

                        man were true.  (John 10:41)  - “Answer me!”  Christ thus exhibited

                        the utter incompetency of His enemies to judge His claims. They were

                        not prepared publicly either to avow or to disavow sympathy with,

                        confidence in, the ministry of the great forerunner. How, then, could

                        any stress be laid upon their judgment with respect to him to whom

                        John had witnessed?


Ø      What was the effect of this method of dealing with His assailants? It

      is evident that the leaders of the Jews were discredited and put to shame.

      It is equally evident that the minds of the people were influenced in           

      Christ’s favor. But, above all, the true, proper, underived, and   

      incomparable authority of Christ shines forth in unrivalled

                        brightness and beauty.


One final note, as Christians we are to “be ready always to give an answer to

every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness

and fear” – (I Peter 3:15)  The life and works of Christ are His justification. They

prove Him “sent from God.” (John 6:29)  The experience of the operation of

Christian doctrine and practice in the ages subsequent to the Cross. (the last

two thousand years) bear Him witness.  The immediate witness of the conscience

 and the heart  (yours and mine – CY – 2010) does the same!  All Divine revelations

have similar evidence, and  stand or fall together. Had they believed John, they

would have believed Jesus.  As they believed neither, it must have been because they

hated the truth. (Let us beware lest this attitude come upon you and me – CY – 2010)

It was for the interests of true religion that this fact should be made evident.  Christ

proceeded to prove the traditional unrighteousness of the Jewish people

and their leaders in a series of  following “parables” or similitudes, which were at

the same time so many appeals to conscience. There is an unbroken connection

between  ch. 11 and  ch.12 .





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The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (vs. 1-11)


“To Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany,” the order of mention being

determined by reckoning from the place whither the movement was being

made. They began, therefore, with Bethany. It was familiar ground,

fragrant with tender associations with both the human and the Divine.


  • PREPARATIONS. The triumph was foreseen by Christ, and he made

arrangements for its being celebrated with becoming order and dignity.


Ø      The unforeseen and unexpected was foreseen and prepared for by

Christ. If Divine advents are delayed, or Divine celebrations fail of their

loftiest end, it is not because of failure or unreadiness in him. He was

willing to have made this triumph a real, permanent, and universal one. He

is ever in advance of the event, whether it be a triumph or a crucifixion.

Above all, he was ready in himself.


Ø      It was to his own disciples he looked for a supply of what was required

for his triumph. He appealed to their recognition of his authority — “ the

Lord.” The claim was allowed by the stranger who owned the colt. It was

freely given when asked. Christians are to make ready for their Lord’s

triumph. They have all that he needs, if it be but freely rendered. He will

throne himself amidst their gifts if they have him enthroned in their hearts.

Nothing but what is freely rendered is acceptable to him or desired by him.

It should be enough for a disciple to know what the Lord will have him do

and of what the Lord has need.


  • THE TRIUMPH. It was a simple procession, gradually increasing in

volume and excitement as it approached the city.


Ø      The movement was natural and spontaneous. No signs of getting it up.

The enthusiasm it expressed already existed. Direction and order were

imparted, but the motive was self-developed.


Ø      It was of a predominantly spiritual character. The attraction did not lie in

the accessories, but in the central Figure. Never had the native glory of the

Messiah been so manifest. The Jews, had they only known, were on the

verge of an apocalypse, which only depended upon their spiritual

preparedness. “Meekness is nobler and mightier than force, goodness than

grandeur” (Godwin).


Ø      It was a manifest fulfillment of prophecy. The people were conscious of

it as they shouted. Their words are a quotation from Psalm 118.


o        “‘Hosanna!’ The word was a Hebrew imperative, ‘Save us, we

beseech thee,’ and had come into liturgical use from Psalm 118.

That psalm belonged specially to the Feast of Tabernacles, and

as such was naturally associated with the palm branches; the

verses from it now chanted by the people are said to have been

those with which the inhabitants of Jerusalem were wont to

welcome the pilgrims who came up to keep the feast. The

addition of ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’ made it a direct recognition

of the claims of Jesus to be the Christ; that of ‘Hosanna in the highest’

(compare Luke 2:14) claimed heaven as in accord with earth in this



o        ‘Blessed be [‘the King,’ in St. Luke] he that cometh in the Name of the

Lord.’ These words, too, received a special, personal application. The

welcome was now given, not to the crowd of pilgrims, but to the King.


o        As in Luke, one of the cries was an echo of the angels’ hymn at the

Nativity, ‘Peace on earth, and glory in the highest’ (Luke 2:14).


o        As in Mark, ‘Blessed be the kingdom of our father David.’ We have

to think of these shouts as filling the air as he rides slowly on in silence.

He will not check them at the bidding of the Pharisees (Luke 19:39), but

his own spirit is filled with quite other thoughts than theirs” (Plumptre).

Yet, because of the unpreparedness of the people, the fulfillment was

only provisional, not ultimate; typical, not actual. In its spiritual idea,

its universal influence (“all the city was moved”), its spontaneous

acclaim, it spoke of that which is to come; in its outwardness, its

question, “Who is this?” and answer, “This is Jesus, the Prophet

of Nazareth of Galilee,” its readiness to pass from praise to

execration, it showed how distant the people were from the true





Ø       Seen in the destination to which he came. He entered the temple.” He

is Priest as well as King. “Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of

Zion” (Psalm 2:6). It is from the holy place that his rule extends; and

there it begins, and is most intensely and specially exercised. He is Key to

all the mysteries there; Center of all the symbols and rites. This suggests

that his reign is primarily and essentially a spiritual one. As King of saints

he reigns in the earth.


Ø       Expressed and exercised in a “look.” “He looked round about upon all

things.” “Not simply as one might gaze who had never been there before:

an arbitrary and wanton idea; but as one who had a right to inspect the

condition of the place, and who was determined to assert and exercise that

fight” (Morison). So is he Lord of that temple not made with hands — the

body in which he dwelt, and the spirit in which he offered the eternal

sacrifice; and so will he take account of the secrets of human nature in the

great day, for is he not “the Son of man”?



                                    The Lord hath need of him.”  (v. 3)


How singular the conjunction! Need of a colt! In what sense was such a

creature necessary for the Lord of all? In what sense is anything created

necessary to the Creator? As showing forth his glory, and fulfilling his








PHASE OF THE DIVINE GLORY. What else could so set forth the

meekness, the lowliness, of the Son of man? or the privilege and freedom

the young Church, of which he was the only burden and law? In that colt

the brute world had its most honored representative. So in human poverty,

simplicity, weakness, and ignorance, the glory of God may be shown forth

the more conspicuously.







EFFORT FOR THE GLORY OF GOD. If he had need for a colt, we cannot

say he has no need for us.



Jesus Surveying the Temple (v. 11)


  • A SIGN OF AUTHORITY. Supreme, absolute, spiritual.


  • AN EXERCISE OF JUDGMENT. Inward, unerring, and from the

highest standpoint.



nothing upon which the look can rest with approval and satisfaction. It

goes round, but returns not. It goes through and beyond. The temple in its

condition was symbolical of the people.


  • A TOKEN OF FORBEARING MERCY. Only a look, for the present.

He has it not in his heart to inflict the final stroke at once. He will wait. A

day of grace is still left. Is this our case — as a Church? as individuals?





The Destruction of the Fig Tree  (vs. 12-14, 20 -25)




Ø      Not an outcome of petulance or disappointment. The idea of Christ

being “in a temper” is preposterous! The difficulty as to the phrases, “if

haply he might find anything thereon,” and “he found nothing but leaves;

for it was not the season of figs,” is for the most part factitious and

artificial. Our Lord was not mistaken — first expectant and then

disappointed. “He came to the tree, not for the sake of eating, but for the

sake of performing an adumbrative action (sed aliquid praefigurandi

causa)” (Zuiugli). “His hunger, too, was the occasion that gave shape to

his adumbrative action, when he went to the leafy tree to see if there was

fruit on it” (Morison).


Ø      But neither was it an action symbolizing the penalty of spiritual

barrenness. Its proximity in spirit and time to the cleansing of the temple

inclines the mind to a parabolic meaning in that direction; so also Peter’s

strong word “cursedst,” which seems at first to convey an impression of

moral displeasure. As a merely natural incident, it is hard to reduce the

disproportion it exhibits between the apparently judicial sentence and its

occasion. On the other hand, it is harder still to explain Christ’s total

silence as to the reference to spiritual barrenness and its penalty, if such a

reference had ever been intended. The circumstance that a day intervened

between the sentence of Christ and Peter’s noting the result, would seem

to demand that the Master should have “pointed the moral” in some more

manifest way. Again, what he did teach concerning the occurrence, so far

as it has been preserved, suggests that the action was “adumbrative” in a

simpler and more direct sense, of that, namely, of which he spoke — the

power of God commanded through faith. “The significance of this event is

different from that of the parable given by St. Luke (Luke 13:6), to

show the doom of impenitence. In that, the fig tree was planted in a

vineyard; everything was done for its culture that could be done; and not

till after years of barrenness was it cut down. Here the fig tree was growing

by the road; it belonged to no one, and nothing had been done for its

improvement; and it was destroyed when its uselessness was made

manifest. It was fruitless, because the fruit season had not come, and no

old fruit remained on the branches. It was, therefore, not a fit emblem of

the impenitent Jews. But the destruction of a senseless and worthless thing

made known the power of Christ, as sufficient to destroy, though used only

to restore” (Godwin, ‘Matthew’). As illustrative of Divine power it was

splendidly significant. To wither was within the power of any one, but to

wither by a word was a supernatural act only possible to one in closest

fellowship with God.



in God.”


Ø      Greater results than it are attained by his servants if they will but



o        In doing. The words “shall say unto this mountain,” etc., are figurative.

A magnificent promise! Not only such an act as the withering of the fig

tree, but one comparable to the uprooting of the Mount of Olives on

which it grew (against which, by the way, there could surely be no

judicial resentment” even in the most metaphorical sense). It is spoken

of moral and spiritual difficulties met with in fulfilling the great

commission, or in individual spiritual growth.


o        In receiving. Here the whole doctrine of prayer came up again for

review. The answer was not to be merely looked forward to as

coming, or even imminent, but was to be realized as already

fulfilling itself in present experience. A secret of intense and

successful devotion.


Ø      The ground of all such power is moral and spiritual oneness with God.

The general conditions of prayer being answered, viz. agreeableness to the

Divine will, advantage of the kingdom of God, etc., are all supposed. But,

in addition, the boon of forgiveness is chiefly referred to as of greatest

moment; and, in connection with it, the necessity of a forgiving disposition

in the petitioner, as a condition of his being answered. This is one of the

highest phases of spiritual or moral power, and is only possible through

partaking of the Divine Spirit, in other words, through oneness with God.




Jesus Cleansing the Temple (vs. 11-15)


A second occasion; the first occurring at the beginning of His ministry

(John 2:13-17). A fulfillment of Malachi 3:1-2.



TO DECAY AND ABUSE. Most of the abominations swept away by

Christ had their origin in immemorial custom, and the demands of the

worshippers themselves. Traffic came to assume a religious character, and

gain was excused on account of ceremonial exigencies and conveniences.

This tendency recurs and culminates. How suggestive the contrast — “a

house of prayer,” “a den of thieves”!



AND PURPOSE. The essence of the old worship was simple, personal

devotion, of which rites and sacrifices were only of use as the expression.

Through the intrusion of the business spirit, the latter came to be regarded

as important for their own sake.



PURE WORSHIP. This act of Christ is in perfect accord with his whole

character and life. It but expresses his spirit and influence. Every reform Or

advance of the Church is due to his agency.




SIGNIFICANCE OF SACRED THINGS. The original purpose of the

temple is restated, and he emphasizes the spiritual side of worship. It is to

pray, to commune with our Father, we go up into the temple. Everything

which interferes with or corrupts that simple motive, is an abuse and an

evil. The gospel, in recalling men to a sense of righteousness and the love

of God, creates the prayer-spirit. And the Holy Ghost sustains the

communion thus established. From time to time the Spirit takes of the

things of God and reveals them afresh, making fresh advents to the heart,

and kindling the flame of zeal and love.






WELCOMED. Those who are interested in the status quo will resent

interference with it. Priestly importance and the spirit of selfishness are

potent antagonists to true worship. But the “multitude” has within it ever

some who yearn after better things. The human longing after the Divine is

enshrined in the common heart of man.





The Church — Tdeal and Actual (v. 17)


  • THE CHURCH IN ITS IDEAL. As viewed under this aspect it has:


Ø      A twofold character. (Isaiah 56:7.)


o        A house of prayer. This recognition of a spiritual end to be secured by

the institution of the temple is most remarkable, as having taken place

in an era of ceremonialism. It is not a priestly but a prophetic point of

view, in which details are lost sight of in the inward and eternal. The

temple was to be “called a house of prayer” as indicative not of a

special but rather of an exclusive purpose; any other being a

transgression and an offense. It was to be set apart for the most

sacred occupations of the soul — fellowship and communion

with God. An emphasis was thereby given to the Divine side of

life. Men were to seek the presence of God that they might receive

his grace and truth. A space was marked off from the business and

secularities of life, so that, undisturbed from without, and aided by

all the circumstances of devotion, the higher nature might be called

forth and educated. Instead of worldly cares and competitions

distracting the worshippers, they were to be engrossed for a while

with their Father’s business. How important is this witness of the

Church to the claims of the unseen and eternal! It is the sphere

within which the highest exercise of human faculties may take place,

and the noblest life may be laid hold of.  There may be no immediate

demand for what it provides, yet does it minister to the deepest and

most lasting human needs.


o        The spiritual home of mankind. The defect of Judaism was that it was

too national and exclusive: all that was to cease. From the earliest times

the universality of the Divine grace was declared by the prophets.

Even from within a principle of expansion began to discover itself.

The presence of the “stranger” within the camp led to the recognition

of the “proselytes of the gate,” and by-and-by to the institution of the

court of the Gentiles” in the temple itself. The fundamental doctrine

of Jehovah itself implied such an intention as ultimate if not

immediate, for before him there was no respect of persons, and He

was the Father of all. The promises, too, were all couched in terms

that precluded a merely local or temporary enjoyment of

their blessings. Even as taught in the Old Testament the doctrine of

election is declared to be a temporary provision for the benefit of

others besides the elect. The chief end of the temple, or the Church

which it represented, could not be secured save by the conversion

of the world to the knowledge of Jehovah, and the spiritual coming

of mankind to Zion. It is therefore the great mission of Christianity,

as the spiritual successor of Judaism, to give effect to this. The

Church is a witness to the oneness of the race in its origin and destiny,

and the great foster-mother of mankind. Through her charity, and

not by mechanical necessities or material interests, is the unity

of the world to be realized.


Ø      This twofold intention of the Church is certain to be fulfilled. As we

have seen, it is:


o        the Divine purpose: everything God wills will be; and

o        the genius of Christianity. If Judaism declared a universal brotherhood,

Christianity is that brotherhood. It teaches us to say,” Our Father,” and

realizes itself in the communion of saints. The Church is not an end in

itself, but is for the world. Christianity is nothing if it is not evangelistic

and aggressive.


  • THE CHURCH IN ITS CORRUPTION. In the mean time what God

intended has been frustrated by the worldliness of men. The consequence

has been:


Ø      A complete contradiction to its original purpose. Even in Jeremiah’s

day the epithet, “a den of thieves,” could be applied to it (Jeremiah 7:11);

so soon does spiritual decay run to its term! That which was meant

to be a universal good became a universal curse. The abuse of sacred

things is ever the most mischievous of all abuses. Instead of Divine charity,

human selfishness: the wrangling and violence of robbers where the peace

of God was to be looked for. The contrast is utter, but the transition is easy

and natural. The very extension of Judaism, outstripping as it did the

expansion of affection in its members, sufficed to ensure its corruption.

Worshippers came from distant places to offer sacrifice, and being unable

to bring animals with them for the purpose, they sought for them on the

spot. Gradually, therefore, the courts of the temple were invaded by cattle-

dealers and their herds. Another inconvenience was felt in the difficulty of

exchanging foreign money for the sacred coin which could alone be

accepted in the treasury. Here the money-changer stepped in. The whole

process was gradual and easily explained; but the result was none the less

an evil, which required to be sternly corrected. Nor can Christians plead

innocence of this sin. “The history of Christian Churches,” says Plumptre,

has not been altogether without parallels that may help us to understand

how such a desecration came to be permitted. Those who remember the

state of the great cathedral of London, as painted in the literature of

Elizabeth and James, when mules and horses, laden with market produce,

were led through St. Paul’s as a matter of every-day occurrence, and

bargains were struck there, and burglaries planned, and servants hired, and

profligate assignations made and kept, will feel that even Christian and

Protestant England has hardly the right to cast a stone at the priests and

people of Jerusalem.” It is a great deal, however, when it is recognized that

this is not the purpose for which the sanctuary has been hallowed, and the

lesson of the past is surely that of a constant watchfulness against insidious

abuses, and above all of the need of a deeper and more continuous

consecration of the worshippers themselves.


Ø      Divine anger and rejection. The wrath of the Lord of the temple was

typical for all time. As the temple, so the Church or the soul which defiles

itself will be visited by penal consequences. Sacred names and ceremonies

will not consecrate vile ends. There is nothing more abhorrent to God than

the travesty of religion, the seeking of gain under the mask of Godliness.




Christ’s Authority Challenged and Defended (vs. 27-33)


This was a necessary consequence of his action in the cleansing of the temple. By

so doing he claimed to be the Judge of things religious and sacred, and to direct

the conscience of man.




AUTHORITY. Only direct Divine sanction, or a higher truth vindicating

itself at the bar of reason and conscience, or in the field of experience, can

justify the attitude of Christ and his religion towards the religions and

superstitions of men. Arbitrary assumption will soon belay itself, and the

spiritual nature of man must be satisfied. This question of authority is sure

to be raised sooner or later by the upholders of the systems and beliefs

Christianity impugns. And Christians are counselled to “give a reason of

the hope that is in” them.





Ø      The life and works of Christ are his justification. They prove him “sent

from God.” The evidence upon which our belief in these is based is as

strong, at least, as for any other historic matter.


Ø      The experience of the operation of Christian doctrine and practice in

the ages subsequent to the Cross.


Ø      The immediate witness of the conscience and the heart. With the first

and the third of these the temple authorities were already conversant.






Ø      Christ knew the motives of his inquisitors.


Ø      He placed them in a false position in order to expose these to

themselves and others.


Ø      All Divine revelations have similar evidence, and stand or fall together.

Had they believed John, they would have believed Jesus. As they

believed neither, it must have been because they hated the truth. It was

for the interests of true religion that this fact should be made evident. He

proceeded to prove the traditional unrighteousness of the Jewish people

and their leaders in a series of “parables” or similitudes, which were at

the same time so many appeals to conscience. (It would be well for the

preacher to remark upon the unbroken consecution of ch. 11 and 12 in

the spoken discourse of Christ.)




Jesus the King (vs. 1-3)


On the occasion described in these verses Jesus assumed kingly authority.

Loved as a Friend, revered as a Teacher, and followed as a Worker of

miracles, he now declared his kingliness, and demanded obedience and

homage. Therein he taught us, his subjects, some lessons.



two disciples this command must have appeared strange. After finding the

animal denoted, they were not to ask for it, but to take it; and if their

action was questioned they were merely to say, “The Lord hath need of

him.” If it belonged to a foe, some might arrest or assail them for robbery.

It was not the first occasion, however, on which they simply obeyed. Christ

had a right to their absolute obedience, and their faith was tested by this

demand upon it. Unquestioning obedience to truth and to duty is far too

rare. We want to see the reasons for a command, the probable issues of it,

and when we see neither too often we withhold obedience. Peril from this

is now more frequent, because authority as such is weakened on all sides.

Children in the home, which is the true sphere for the cultivation of

obedience, are too often allowed to question when they ought to be told to

obey. If we are sure of duty as followers of Jesus Christ, we must be

regardless of consequences. He anticipates our difficulties, as he foresaw

the question of the owner of the colt. He asks us to take one step, and to

take it boldly, although we do not see what the next will be, nor whither it

may lead us. If we go on to the Red Sea, it will afford us a path of safety

and cut off our foes from following us. If an angel rouses us from sleep,

and we arise and follow him, the great iron gate we cannot stir will open to

us of its own accord.



REQUIRES, We forget that we are not the absolute owners of anything.

All we have is held in trust; but our seeming possession tests our

disposition, and helps to develop character. If we wish to prove the

honesty of a servant, and let his skill in management grow, we do not give

him a small sum each day, and check and watch him till the evening, and

then expect a strict account. No; we put a large sum at his disposal, and

“after a long time ‘ reckon with him, with the result, that if he has been

faithful he has increased his capital and his fitness. So God puts at our

disposal wealth, talents, etc., in the hope that for our own sake we will use

all loyally for him. Christ Jesus, during his ministry, was as one “having

nothing, and yet possessing all things.” No colt was his, but one was there,

and when its owner heard “The Lord hath need of him,” it was ready for

the Lord’s use. The message sent to that man, when it comes home to our

hearts, should silence all objections to the making of effort or sacrifice. If

we have to give up some luxury so as to help the poor, if we have to

sacrifice leisure that is hardly earned to teach the ignorant, if we have to

part with one who is dear to us, our anger and defiance will be quieted

when we say to ourselves, “The Lord hath need of them.” The owner was

perhaps a secret disciple. The Lord knew him, although the apostles did

not. Now, after loving Jesus quietly, the opportunity for showing his love

was suddenly proffered, and he gladly gave what he could. Christ asks of

us, as he asked of him, what is possible and reasonable; and instead of

waiting to do something great, let us do what we can, and that which is

mean in itself will be hallowed and glorified when used by our Lord.



his kingliness had been concealed except from the nearest and dearest

disciples. On this occasion it was declared. Yet the spiritual nature of that

kingliness was so evident in his dress, in the animal he bestrode, and in his

attendants, that when a few days afterwards he was charged with calling

himself a King, no reference was made to this incident before Herod or

Pilate. Such is the nature of his kingdom still. His sovereignty is not

advanced by material force or by worldly cunning. To him, as a spiritual

Ruler, gifts do not take the place of earnest prayer; nor is attendance on the

means of grace a substitute for fellowship of soul with God. His kingdom

was inaugurated by death; it was founded on a grave; it was built up by the

Spirit, “that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”

Hence he approached Jerusalem, not on the war-horse of the conqueror,

but on an ass, on which rode messengers of peace; as if he were

determined that he would not come in judgment till to the last love had

been tried. Thus he comes to us, in quiet suggestions, in holy desires, in

tears, and prayers; but hereafter he will come in power and great glory,

fulfilling the vision St. John saw of One upon the white horse, going forth

conquering, and to conquer.




Palm Sunday (vs. 8-10)


We sometimes wonder that the greatest Teacher, the divinest Master the

world ever saw, was so little recognized during his ministry. Our surprise

would be lessened if we fairly put ourselves in the position of his

contemporaries. Suppose news came to our metropolis that in a distant

hamlet, among working people, a child had been born, and that rumors of

portents accompanying his birth found favor in that country-side. Suppose

that, as years rolled on, it was reported that this child, now a man, had

done some marvellous works; and that, after several visits to the city, he

came into it accompanied by his followers, chiefly peasants, neither learned

nor wealthy. The probabilities are that although some might know him to

be a great teacher, a man of unquestioned holiness and of astonishing

pretensions, the hum of business would not be hushed for a moment, and

few would turn aside to see his festal procession.




Ø      His welcome would have been more speedy and general had he come

differently. All through his ministry we find evidence of that. There was

eagerness for a Messiah of a certain type. A promise to restore the

theocracy, and overthrow the Roman tyranny, would have been hailed with

a unanimous shout of delight. But our Lord would not be content, and

never is, with a worldly homage, such as a Christian nation, for example,

offers when it calls itself by his Name, and violates his principles. Unless he

rules human hearts, he has no joy and the ruled no bliss. Even an earthly

king desires real loyalty; but he cannot read men’s thoughts nor see how in

heart his flatterers despise him. If he could, how thankfully would he turn

from the adulation of courtiers to the unsophisticated love of his children!

So our Lord turned from priests and Pharisees to the humble peasants of

Galilee and the loving children in Jerusalem. In order to avoid false

homage, Christ came, and still comes, quietly. He comes not with peals of

thunder and visions of angels, nor even as a national leader appealing to

popular passion and armed force; but, in quiet thoughts and in happy

Christian homes, he reveals’ himself to those seeking the truth, or burdened

with sin.


Ø      Even such a welcome as this given on Palm Sunday was unusual. His

motto seemed to be, “He shall not strive, nor cry, nor cause his voice to be

heard in the streets.” Popular applause was suppressed, and even natural

enthusiasm was cooled. If people would take him by force to make him a

king, he departed and did hide himself from them. If the disciples saw a

glimpse of his glory on the Mount of Transfiguration, he said, “See that ye

tell no man.” His miracles were quietly wrought, generally with but few

witnesses, and those blessed were often told not to publish it. But on this

first day of the last week he wished to have an unwonted procession. In the

crowds who had come together for the Passover all the elements of it were

ready, if he only gave a sign of his willingness to receive it. And this he did.

He arranged for it. He sent to the village for the young colt, and when it

was brought he sat upon it, and allowed a simple procession to be formed,

which increased in numbers and enthusiasm as they drew nearer to



Ø      This exceptional scene was wisely ordered.


o        The memory of it would help the disciples in the dark days which ended

that eventful week; for they would reflect that it was not want of power,

but want of will, which did not allow him to rouse the people in his

defense. “The Good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.”


o        Besides, it would give an opportunity to the people to see him as the

King he claimed to be, and it was possible that some who had resisted

other influences might yield to this, and pay him homage now, lie had

come as a babe to Jerusalem, and few had loved him; he had come as

a child, only to be wondered at when he sat among the doctors; he

had come to the feasts, and scarcely any had recognized him. He

had come” unto his own, and his own received him not.” Once

more, in a new way, he would draw near. He would try one more

avenue to the closed heart before uttering the pathetic lament,

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have

gathered thy children… and ye would not!”


o        Further, there was something prophetic and typical in this procession.

The triumphal entry was a symbol of the resurrection on that day week,

and of his later ascension to heaven amidst the hosannas of the angels.

It was a prophecy also of his kingly progress through history, and of

his second coming in glory, when all in heaven and all on earth will

cry, “Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord!”


  • THE CROWN SURROUNDING JESUS. In some of those there we

may see, perhaps, representatives of ourselves.


Ø      Enthusiasts were there. They had seen his miracles, and with loud

hosannas spread their garments in his way. He foresaw with sadness the

change that would come over them. They applauded on Olivet, but they

were absent from Calvary. Beware of spasmodic enthusiasm, and ask for

grace to stand by Christ’s cause in times of trouble as well as in times of



Ø      Foes were there. They kept quiet while the crowd of his followers

surrounded them; but soon they would raise the cry, “Crucify him!

crucify him!” It is possible to “crucify the Son of God afresh, and

put him to an open shame.”  (Hebrews 6:6)


Ø      Disciples were there. The blind who had been restored, demoniacs who

had been delivered, learners who had sat reverently at his feet. In the

procession which still is following the Lord, may we find our place!





                                                Jesus in the Temple (v. 15)


“Jesus went into the temple.” The act was characteristic and suggestive.



AND THAT OF JOHN. From the beginning to the end of his ministry the

Baptist, so far as we know, was a stranger to the temple courts. John was

in the wilderness, and the people from Jerusalem and Judea “went out” to

hear him. Christ was never apart from his people. He was not a voice

crying in the wilderness, but the Good Shepherd, who, instead of expecting

his strayed sheep to seek him, came after them, to seek and to save that

which was lost. In accordance with this, Jesus entered into the temple, or

taught in the synagogues, or went into the homes of the people, to teach

the ignorant and to bless the needy. Here is a distinguishing mark of the

great Redeemer as contrasted with the great reformer; and it is also

distinctive of their work. A reformer points the way of righteousness to

those willing to walk in it. A Redeemer, by the power of his love and life,

touches and turns the hearts of the children of men. John said in effect, “Do

what you can in the way of moral reform.” Christ in effect said, “I have

come to do for you is uplifted to her lofty pedestal; but, conscious of her

beauty and of his failures, the sinner can only say, “It is high, I cannot

attain unto it.” Christ Jesus comes down amongst us from the lofty

heavens, as One meek and lowly, and says, “Behold, I stand at the door,

and knock: if any man will open the door, I will come in to him.”



DISPENSATION. He was often accused of setting himself against the

Law. This act was one of many proofs he gave of the truth of his words, “I

came not to destroy, but to fulfill.” He knew, as others did not, that the

work of the temple was almost done, and that it would shortly perish in the

flames; he knew that, though it had such marvellous material stability, it

was one of “the things that could be shaken,” and would be removed, so

that “the things which could not be shaken might remain.” But so long as

the temple remained as the house of God he honored it, and encouraged his

disciples to do so. He kept its feasts; he taught and healed its worshippers;

he led his followers to join in its praises and prayers and he showed the

people, by this act of cleansing, that they were guilty if they desecrated

God’s appointed house of prayer.



FORBEARANCE AND PATIENCE. As followers of Christ we should

learn to put up with, and to use to the utmost, what we know is imperfect

and transient. If we see an organization which aims at what we approve,

but which in our judgment is imperfect, and resolve to withhold our

sympathy and support till it perfectly accords with our views, we are not

following our Lord in this. If we recognize the faults of our fellow-

Christians, and are so vexed at their folly that we determine to have no

more fellowship or co-operation with them, we are not following our Lord

in this. If we have attempted to reform society or to rescue a sinner, and

have apparently failed, so that we give up all further effort in despair, we

are not following our Lord. For once before, at the beginning of his

ministry, he had cleansed this temple and driven forth the buyers and

sellers, but the evil had reasserted itself, so that it was defiled as much as

formerly. Still patiently and hopefully he cleansed it again, and made the

place ring with his words of truth, and beautified it by his works of mercy.



FALSE AND EVIL. He went to the temple to worship, although in the

crowds he saw there so few that were spiritually in sympathy with him. But

he would not allow any mistake to be made about his association with evil.

He was not like those who are so silent about wrong-doing or false

teaching that all around suppose that they sympathize with it. Such silence

is guilty. If Christ saw evil he looked upon it with pain and shame, and

therefore once more before he left the temple, which was the scene of it, he

made a bold protest and uttered a final rebuke. He associated with the

good, but he cast out the evil.




Christ Cleansing the Temple (vs. 15-17)


The acts of our Lord were not merely intended to accomplish an immediate

result. Had they been, they were sadly ineffectual. If, for example, he had

simply set before himself the design of clearing the temple of intruders, he

could have secured that end more permanently than he did. But he

recognized that the noblest thing is not to cut off a public abuse, but to dry

up the spring whence it flows, which often lies deep in the human heart.

Remedial measures are better than repressive legislation. When our Lord

for a second time cleansed the temple, his main object was not to put down

the abuse immediately by force, but to rebuke the sin, and so to lead the

people to think about it, confess, and forsake it. He wished to establish the

principle that the temple of God should be free from worldliness, a

principle which is capable of world-wide application. As the material

temple rises before our vision through the mists of past years, we hail it as

an image of the invisible temple in which the Eternal God is praised and

served by his people. Two truths appear prominently in this incident.



the sins of other people and of other times, we are:


Ø      Apt to forget how naturally and imperceptibly they obtained place and

power. The Jews easily lapsed into this desecration. The Mosaic code

ordained sacrifices of oxen, goats, and sheep in great numbers. In process

of time the habits of the nation changed, so that it was no longer possible,

as it had been in the pastoral period, to take a victim from a flock or herd

close at hand. Jerusalem was now a large and crowded city. Space was

costly, and a large area seemed to be necessary where worshippers could

obtain victims. In the vast temple area a large space was available. It was

close by the sacrificial altar, and not set apart for the actual worship of the

chosen people. If it were used for stalls and pens, a good rental would be

secured which would pay for the repair and decoration of the building, and

so the glory of the sanctuary would be maintained and devout worshippers

accommodated. So the abuse grew up, amid the protests of the few and the

silence of the many, and all were tolerating an evil which they could not

openly defend. Evils have generally sprung up in the Church insidiously. If

they had come in their hideous maturity they would have been repelled

with horror, but they were welcomed when they came like the tiny child a

legendary saint took on his shoulders, to find him grow so heavy as to

crush him with his weight. Examples of this may be found in ecclesiastical

history: e.g. papal pretensions, simony, erastianism; all of which in their

germ seemed to have about them something reasonable and right.


Ø      The root of the special evil here denounced was covetousness. Probably

that was the besetting sin of the nation in our Lord’s day. Publicans sold

themselves to the tyrants of their country, because wealth was more to

them than patriotism. Priests and Sadducees let out sites to the temple

traders, because they would make gain of godliness, and cared more for the

temple income than for spiritual worship. This spirit pervaded the entire

nation. There was no sign of the splendid generosity of David, and no

need, as in Moses’ days, to restrain the people from giving. The sin

appeared among the apostles. We see it in all its hideousness in Judas

Iscariot, who betrayed his Lord for thirty pieces of silver, and then flung

the money at the feet of the priests as they sat in the temple of God. The

love of money is declared to be “the root of all evil,” and the statement is

in harmony with the words of our Lord about the difficulty a rich man

would find in entering his kingdom. Show how generally such teaching is

forgotten among different classes of our population. See the effects of this

in the floating of unsound speculations in which the fortunes of the unwary

are wrecked; in the unfairness of men to each other in the common

relations of life; in the unjust wars of aggression which the nation has

sometimes waged. The Christian Church is called upon to set an example

of the opposite of all this, in her princely generosity and in her Christ-like



Ø      There are other ways besides covetousness by which desecration may

enter Gods temple. There is unbelief, which silences the voice of prayer in

professed believers; worldliness, which puts material organization in the

place of spiritual power; pride, which prevents hearty fellowship amongst

God’s people; expediency, which usurps the throne of truth; and self-

indulgence, which expels self-devotion. So the temple is defiled; for “know

ye not that ye are the temple of God?” Jesus Christ felt burning indignation

when he saw the sanctuary of his Father transformed into a place of

worldly traffic, and he feels it still as he beholds a Christian community

desecrated by the power of sin.



We too soon get accustomed to evils, and tolerate them, until One mightier

than ourselves alone can expel them. What priests and Levites failed to do,

Jesus did, and none resisted him.


Ø      His coming was an act of sublime condescension. It would have been far

pleasanter to him to go into the fields, where the sower cast his seed; or to

sail over the lake, in which fishermen plied their nets; or to walk over the

hillsides, on which the flowers whispered of his Father’s love. He knew

what the temple was, yet he did not forsake it; but came again and again, in

spite of the unreality and sin that prevailed in it. As willingly he will enter

the heart or the Church, which is unworthy of his presence.

2. His coming was not such as might have been expected. The Jews had

often read the words, “The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to

his temple,” etc., but as they were looking heavenward the prophecy was

fulfilled by the coming of this young Galilean Peasant. As they waited in

vain for a startling advent, so some now wait for a special manifestation of

his presence, and ignore the fact that he is already with them in the holy

thoughts which they refuse to welcome. “Behold, them standeth one

among you, whom ye know not.” It is the realized presence of the living

Christ which will purge the heart or the Church of evil thought and habit,

and transform it into the temple of the Most High. May He, who is the

source of spiritual power and heavenly purity, come amongst us and

abide with us for ever!




The Royal Entry into the Royal City (vs. 1-10)


Simple indeed are the preparations for the entry of Zion’s King into his

own city. “Go your way into the village that is over against you: and

straightway as ye enter into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon no man

ever yet sat; loose him, and bring him.” The long-waiting prophecy is now

to be fulfilled -


“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion;

Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem:

Behold, thy King cometh unto thee:

He is just, and having salvation;

Lowly, and riding upon an ass,

And upon a colt the foal of an ass.”


And the daughter of Zion did rejoice greatly. What a scene of gladness!

What a shout of triumph! They bring the colt covered with their garments,

while the way is prepared by the soft branches of palms scattered and loose

robes cast upon the ground. And the lowly, mighty King enters, and the

cries rend the still air.



Blessed is he that cometh

In the Name of the Lord:

Blessed is the kingdom that cometh,

The kingdom of our father David:

Hosanna in the highest.”


There are times when truth bursts through all that hides it, and declares

itself as the sun through a rent cloud. So is it here. Without restraint the

children of Israel proclaim their King as did Pilate when he wrote, “The

King of the Jews.” True, Pilate did not believe, nor did the shouting crowd

at the gates of the city for long together. The same walls soon heard the

cry, “Crucify him! crucify him!” But for the time the truth prevails. It is

uppermost. As in the Transfiguration, the hidden glory is revealed. Perhaps

unconsciously, these voices bear witness to the truth. It is a scene to carry

in the eye, to be engraven on the heart. Let us learn —



AUTHORITY. It is not stituted or upheld by them; it is not destroyed by

their absence. Christianity is independent of external support.



ASSERT ITSELF. Yea, though it may be rejected, it will leave its

testimony for following ages of faith and unbelief to ponder according to

their respective needs.



COMETH IN THE NAME OF THE LORD. Other kings and other

kingdoms will rise in a temporary prevalence of power, and fall into dark

oblivion and disgrace. But the true will quietly assume its rightful place,

whether men accept or reject, Jesus is a King. “To this end have I been

born.” Jesus is “King of the Jews,” though their priests cry aloud, “We

have no king but Caesar.” Jesus is the King of kings. But the kingdom is

“not of this world,” nor will it pass away as the kingdoms of this world. It

abideth for ever. And happy is the man who is a true and faithful subject

under this heavenly reign.




The Barren Fig Tree (vs. 11-25)


How changed is the scene! The great King entered into the royal city, and

the great High Priest into the holy temple. Then — O significant words! —

“he looked round about upon all things.” Alas, what scenes caught those

calm eyes! in the eventide he left Jerusalem, accompanied only by the

twelve. On the morrow,, returning again to Jerusalem from Bethany, where

he had spent the night, “he hungered.” A mere touch of the pen discloses a

link of connection between him and every one who in hunger seeks and has

not his daily bread. But a “fig tree having leaves” from “afar” attracts his

keen sight, and “he came, if haply he might find anything thereon,” as the

leaves which usually appear after the fruit promised. Alas, his hope is

mocked! “He found nothing but leaves.” Then he, who giveth nature its

greenness, who maketh the fig tree to blossom, and hangeth the fruit on the

vine and the olive, uttered his “curse” in prohibiting it to minister any more

to the wants of man. The morrow finds it “withered away.” There were

watching disciples for whose use this and the other trees grew in the great

garden, and this must be used for their highest good. By it he will impress

upon their hearts a solemn truth. It is a parable enacted. But the parable

goes unexpounded, while a great lesson on faith in God is given. By

common consent, this withered tree conveys a deep teaching on immature

professions. Following so immediately after the jubilant cry of yesterday, it

seems to speak in condemnation of that all too hasty and untrustworthy

demonstration, those shouts of welcome to the King of Jerusalem which

would be so seen exchanged for the cry of repudiation, “We have no king

but Caesar.” The strength of the tree is exhausted in the immature foliage.

This seems to point to the immature haste of profession made by them who

cried “Hosanna!” and who would show how vain the hopes would be that

relied upon that cry, for in a few days it would be exchanged for “Crucify

him!” It was the one visible curse of him who in reality curses everything

that is false and pretentious. Significantly it is related, “and his disciples

heard it.” The morrow declares that the Lord’s word is a word of power,

as the drooping leaves and dried-up branches and trunk, even “from the

roots,” declare. Peter’s exclamation draws forth from the Master a

profound reply, which seems designed to lead the thoughts of the disciples

away from all that is false, unreal, and untrue, on which they may not place

their hope, to him who is worthy of their faith, and who never disappoints

them that trust in him. Henceforth this fig tree stands before us as:


  • A SYMBOL OF INSINCERITY, or of that uncultured strength which is





AND PROMISES. Many are dependent upon, or at least influenced by, the

professions of others. There are weak souls that lean upon stronger ones

for support, who are comforted and strengthened by their fidelity, or led

astray by their dejection.




this case, perhaps, not to commit themselves to the frail, unworthy cry of

an excited multitude, but to have calm faith in God, who can sweep away

the false and delusive, the weak and fruitless fig tree, and with equal ease

the firmly rooted mountain from its place. The “mountain” may have found

its antitype in the firmly fixed power that waged its opposition to the

world’s Redeemer, and would soon hang him on a tree. That which could

not satisfy the hunger, and that which could crush and overwhelm the

King, were equally amenable, as is every mountain and every deceitful

thing to the mighty power of God, invoked by a faith held in a true spirit.




The Cleansing of the Temple (vs. 15-18)


Jesus came to “bear witness unto the truth.” One truth was the sanctity of

that “house of prayer” which was opened for “all the nations.” But have

the rightful guardians of that house preserved for it this sacredness, that the

feet of the wearied and the heart of the sorrowful of all nations might be

allured within its hallowed walls, where in humble penitence and prayer,

and with strong cries to the God of heaven and earth, they might find rest

and peace and shelter? Nay, verily. Cruel covetousness has let out the

sacred enclosure for gainful purposes. The love of money, the root of this

evil, has led men to sell God’s house to purposes of merchandise; and, if

worse could be, to trickery and thieving. Ah, they robbed God of his

rightful honor; and they robbed the poor, and the sorrowful, and the

homeless, and the heart-sick, and the sin-sick, of the one place of refuge

where they might find peace and healing and rest! They turned the “house

of prayer” into “a den of robbers.” In the place where men might seek

heavenly blessing, they filched earthly pelf. Sin is great in proportion to its

nearness to the restraints of righteousness. How great, then, was this!

Their cry was, “This is the place for money-changers and barterers, for

pilferers and thieves.” So great a lie must be contradicted by “the Truth;”

even if he lose his life in doing it. The true fire burns in his breast: he

cannot be silent. The zeal: of the Lord consumes him. He takes advantage

of the popular enthusiasm which now for a time runs in his favor. The

astonished multitude “hung upon him, listening.” And though he needs not

their help, yet he disappoints not their hope. He put forth his own regal

authority, and with his word and holy hands “cast out” the traders,

“overthrew” the tables of “the money-changers,” and refused to allow men

to desecrate the holy pavement by carrying burdens over it. Nor would he

“suffer that any man should carry a vessel through the temple.” It might be

asked — How could he do this single-handed? Apart from that Divine

power which now and again he restrained not, “the chief priests and the

scribes feared him,” and the multitude stood” astonished at his teaching.”

Cowardice and guilt are always staggered at religious enthusiasm. In this

incident we may learn —



DEDICATED TO PURPOSES OF WORSHIP. It is his high testimony to

the efficacy of prayer, that the very place where it is offered is holy ground.

If all places are holy in his view, all are not to be used indiscriminately.

There is an appropriate place for each work. And sacred places are

devoted to sacred acts. This is here declared to be according to Christ’s






this speaks against intruding worldly thoughts into acts of Divine worship,

and worldly motives into holy service! He who “set a bound for the waters

that they may not pass over,” has forbidden the trespass upon the threshold

of his house of anything that is “of the earth, earthy.”


  • With a view to the encouragement of prayer among all the nations,


THIS PURPOSE. It cannot, however, be that only one house should be

opened. It is, therefore, the house in every nation that is so opened is

consecrated and sacred whither the tribes of men may go up to offer

worship and service, to present the sacrifice of song, to seek help and rest

and mercy.


  • But through all the teaching there runs a deeper truth: THE




place, the quiet solitudes of the soul where prayer is to be truly made, may

not be polluted by trickery and deceit. And the very consecration of it as a

temple where God may be approached declares that it need not be a place

of burdens; for he will speak the word of faith and peace, will ease and

comfort the troubled, will give rest to the weary, and solace and salvation

to the tempted and tried. Happy the man whose heart is a pure temple of





The Symbolic Triumph (vs. 1-11)



mandate, as having a pre-emption or right to be served before all others.

The act was the more impressive because standing out in rare contrast to

the ordinary tenor of Christ’s conduct.


  • THE MILD POMP OF HIS ENTRY. He is acknowledged with loyal

shouts as King and Lord. Hosanna is “Save now!” The words of

acclamation are cited from a “Hallelujah” psalm (Psalm 118:25-26),

which both celebrates and foretells deliverance. His kingdom prevails by

truth, meekness, and love. May “his unsuffering kingdom” come!



PROPHECY. He is the predicted King and Savior, the Representative of

God upon earth. Thus in this cheerful, humble scene of instructive, popular

gladness, and rejoicing, we have an emblem of the progress of Christianity

through the world.




God’s House Vindicated (vs. 12-19)



THE NATIONS. It contains the idea of the Divine house, and therefore of

the home for all men.



PLACE. “Peace and purity should be maintained in the service of God.”

The Church should be like the home. The associates of traffic and the

passions it excites should be shut out.


“Let vain and busy thoughts have there no part;

Bring not thy plough, thy plots, thy pleasures thither.

Christ purged his temple; so must thou thy heart.

All worldly thoughts are but thieves met together

To cozen thee. Look to thy actions well;

For churches either are our heaven or hell.”

(George Herbert.)




Religion intensifies all it touches. “We become better or worse in dealing

with sacred things” (Godwin).





The Withered Tree (vs. 20-26)



fig tree is destroyed for the sake of a lesson to the spirit. Much lower life is

destroyed from day to day that the higher may be preserved.



MIRACULOUS POWER. He could destroy; that was evident. But he

came not to destroy, but to save. And while he lavished his power upon the

sick and suffering, to heal, cheer, and deliver, he economized the dread

power of destruction. Compare what is said on this subject in ‘Ecce



  • FAITH THE ONE SECRET OF POWER. Our Lord here employs, as

often, a bold figure of speech. To the undivided thought and will nothing is

ideally impossible. Actually our power is limited, as is our thought. But we

are born for the ideal, and to overcome our limitations. Prayer is essentially

part of faith; it is the exercise of the will, the entire going-forth of the man

in that direction in which he is called endlessly to exert himself.



works by love. How mistaken is it to limit faith to intellectual assent!

Devils believe, but love not, and are weak. Faith and love are other words

for the might of God in the soul. “Oh, my brothers, God exists! Believing

love will relieve us of a load of care!” — will lift mountains’ weight from

the spirit, and make our ideals a present reality. But the unloving,

unforgiving soul remains fettered in itself, unreleased, unfree, and weak.





Critics Criticized (vs. 27-33)



action is wrong; or, if it is right, it is done from a wrong motive, or done by

the wrong person. “Ill will never said well.”



call others to account, and refuse to give account of itself, The arbitrary

temper is directly opposed to the “sweet reasonableness of Christ.”



ANSWERS. The true man thinks of the fact, and tries to get at it and state

it. The other, of how much he can afford to tell; how much ‘twere well to

keep back. “Truth should be the first question with men, not



  • THERE IS A USE IN SILENT C0NTEMPT. Christ, so ready to

discuss with candid inquirers and give instruction, here holds his peace.

Sometimes the rule is, “Answer a fool according to his folly;” sometimes,

“Answer him not according to his folly.” Truth and the good of souls must

be our guide. “Incompetency may be exposed and assumption resisted for

the sake of truth.”



Our Lord’s Public Entry into Jerusalem (vs. 1-11)

           Parallel Passages: Matthew 21:1-11; 14-17; Luke 19:29-44; John 12:12-19.


  • JOURNEY FROM JERICHO. Jerusalem is at an elevation of three

thousand six hundred feet above Jericho in the Jordan valley. The distance

between the two cities is upwards of fifteen miles. Travel-stained and

weary with this uphill journey, gradually ascending all the way, our Lord

stayed over sabbath with the family of Bethany, where he got rested and

refreshed. Bethany, which St. John calls “the town of Mary and her sister

Martha,” is fifteen furlongs, or nearly two miles, from Jerusalem, and gets

its name from the fruit of the palm trees that once flourished, there,

signifying “house of dates.” It is now called Azariyeh, from the name of

Lazarus, and in memory of the miracle wrought in raising him from the

dead. Next day, being the 10th of Nisan, or 1st of April — the day on

which the Paschal lamb was set apart — was the day chosen by him, who is

our true Paschal Lamb, for his public entry into Jerusalem, there to be

sacrificed for us. Of the caravan of pilgrims that accompanied our Lord and

his disciples in the journey from Jericho, some had proceeded onward

direct to the holy city; others had pitched their tents in the wooded vale of

Bethany; and others, again, on the western slopes of Olivet, opposite to

and in full view of the city. Those who bad advanced to Jerusalem had, it is

probable, brought word thither of the approach of the Prophet of Nazareth.


  • PUBLIC PROCESSION. The life and ministry of our Lord were fast

drawing to a close. The time of his departure was at hand. There is no

longer need of enjoining secrecy with regard to his miracles, or of

concealment in respect of his office, lest public excitement might ensue, or

lest his work might be interfered with or interrupted by the opposition of

enemies, before the seed of truth, which he had sown by his discourse’s

and parables, should get time to take root in the public mind. Publicity

rather than secrecy is now needed. The great Passover Lamb is to be

sacrificed, and so the Priest is on his way to the place of sacrifice; the

Prophet is going up to the house of God to renew the work of reformation,

to rectify abuses, to restore, or at least exhibit, the purity befitting the

service of the sanctuary, and to teach daily, as he did, in the temple. Above

all, the King is going up to his capital; the daughter of Zion is to receive

her King with rejoicing. Hitherto he had indeed gone about continually,

doing good, yet with little or no outward show; save by the crowds that

followed for healing or hearing, and on some rare occasions and with some

signal exceptions, he had been little recognized, being rather “despised and

rejected of men.” Now the time has come for him to announce his kingdom

and claim the honor of a King. The public avowal of his dignity, the official

declaration of his Messiahship, and the formal proclamation of his

kingdom, now behoved to be made. He was now going to assert his right

to reign. Now, for the first and only time, he assumes somewhat of royal

state in entering his metropolis. Nor yet was there anything very great or

very garish in this exhibition of royalty; the whole was carried out in lowly

guise. Christ was indeed a King, but King of the realm of truth; and his

entrance into Jerusalem was a royal procession — a right royal one, though

in a spiritual sense. He was King, but not such a King as the multitude, and

even his disciples, expected. He was not a King coming with chariots and

horses, with battle-bow or weapons of war, as earthly rulers and worldly

conquerors; but “just, and bringing salvation.” He was the spiritual King of

an unworldly, but universal and unending kingdom.



which our Lord gives his disciples, probably Peter and John, to go to the

village over against them — perhaps Bethphage, which means “house of

figs” — there are several particulars so precise, minute, and striking, that

they imply superhuman knowledge. How else could he tell them



Ø      that immediately on entering the village they would find an ass and her colt;

Ø      that they were not loose, but tied, and so ready to be employed by their


Ø      that that colt had never been tamed, or broken in, and that no man had

ever sat on its back;

Ø      the exact position in which the colt would be found — not in the

courtyard, but outside; at the door, yet not in the public street, but on

a road that ran round (ἀμφόδουamphodou encircling

road;) the rear of the house or village;

Ø      that in case of any demur on the part of persons standing by, they

should reform them for whose use it was required; and

Ø      that the ready consent of the owner would be obtained — “and

straightway he will send them”? Another reading of this latter clause has

the future, and adds πάλινpalin - , so that the sense is, “He [Christ]

will send it back again.”


  • THE HUMBLE YET HEARTY PAGEANT. All was done as had

been directed. The colt was brought and led quietly along, its mother by its

side, accompanying it. Then the disciples cast their abbas, or outer

garments, on them, and set Jesus upon them — ἐπάνω αὐτῶν  - epano auton

being either on the garments, or on one of the animals. The former view is that

of Theophylact, who refers the pronoun to the garments, saying, “Not the

two beasts of burden, but the garments;” so also Euthymius, Beza, and

many others. Many explain the pronoun of the beasts of burden, but

understand it variously — some supposing our Lord to have mounted them

alternately; others supplying τινός, as Krebs and Kuinoel; and others,

again, having recourse to an enallage of number; while some copyists have

ventured to substitute αὐτοῦ or αὐτῆς. The intention of the disciples was

to do their Master royal honor in the true Eastern style of improvising, and

just as in Old Testament times, a throne had been extemporised for Jehu, as

we read in IIKings 9:13, “Then they hasted, and took every man his

garment, and put it under him [Jehu] on the top of the stairs, and blew with

trumpets, saying, Jehu is king.” Scarcely had the disciples prepared the

housing and got their Master mounted on the colt thus caparisoned, when

the very great multitude, or rather the most part of the multitude, not to be

outdone in devotion and loyalty, strewed some their garments, while others

cut down branches off the trees or out of the fields (ἀγρῶνagronfields),

read by Tischendoff and Tregelles), and spread them in the way. Thus the

streaming multitude from Galilee, from Bethany — some before, some

behind the central figure of the Savior — tapestried the line of march with

their garments, or strewed it with fronds (στοιβάδαςstoibadas -  a rare word,

as if στειβάδαςsteibadas - , from στείβωsteibo -  to tread; and thus, that

which is trodden on, a litter of leaves or bed of small leafy branches, then

the material of such, viz. young branches). It may perhaps be worthy of note,

that in the former case the aorist (ἔστρωσανestrosan - strew) is used to

denote the throwing down of their garments as a thing done readily and at

once; while the cutting of the branches and the spreading of them in the way,

as requiring mere time, are expressed in the imperfect; that is, they kept cutting

them and continued strewing them as they proceeded. Many similar tokens of

honor and respect are on record, and practiced even to the present day. Thus,

when Mordecai issued from the palace of Ahasuerus, the streets (Targum on

Esther) were strewn with myrtle; like honor was shown to Xerxes by his

army before crossing the Hellespont; so also, as we are informed by

Robinson, in his ‘Biblical Researches,’ the Bethlehemites threw their

garments under the feet of the English consul’s horses at Damascus, when

they had come to implore his aid. In the ‘Agamemnon’ of AEschylus, too,

we read that the doomed monarch, when entering the palace on his return

to Mycenae, was, in imitation of the barbaric pomp of Eastern kings,

tempted to walk on costly carpets.



lowliness of the animal was in keeping with the character of the procession.

It was humble, yet right royal. The ass in the East is stately, sprightly,

sleek, and shiny; it is highly esteemed, and employed alike for work and

riding. Persons of rank used it commonly for the latter purpose. Thus we

read of Balsam, of Caleb’s daughter, and of Abigail riding on asses. Moses’

wife rode on an ass, as she went down with her husband from Midian into

Egypt. At a still earlier period it was the same animal that Abraham rode

on that eventual day, when, rising early in the morning, he saddled his ass

and went to offer his son Isaac in sacrifice. It was, moreover, the animal on

which the judges of Israel rode, as we learn from such passages as the

following: — “Speak, ye that ride on white asses, ye that sit in judgment;”

so also Jair the Gileadite, who judged Israel two and twenty years, “had,”

as we read, “thirty sons that rode on thirty ass colts, and they had thirty

cities.” We have evidence of the same in Jacob’s blessing of his sons, when

he says of Issachar that he is “a strong ass, couching down between two

burdens.” Animals unyoked or unused were employed for sacred purposes;

thus, in Numbers 19:2, it is written, “Speak unto the children of Israel,

that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and

upon which never came yoke;” again, in I Samuel 6:7, “Now therefore

make a new cart, and take two milch kine, on which there hath come no

yoke.” Thus it was every way suited to the procession, sacred and solemn,

peaceful and royal, that advanced on this occasion towards Jerusalem. The

horse, on the other hand, would have been unbecoming in such a

procession, since the horse was the emblem of war from an early to a late

period in Hebrew history; thus, in Exodus 15 we read, “Sing ye to the

Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he

thrown into the sea;” and also in Jeremiah 8:6, “Every one turned to his

course, as the horse rusheth into the battle.”


  • THE PROCESSION FROM THE CITY. Another crowd of persons,

passing out of the city gates, crossed the Kedron, and advanced in one long

continuous line up the opposite side of Olivet till it met the procession that

accompanied our Lord. The persons that composed this crowd had been

attracted by the miracle of the raising of Lazarus, and they bore their

willing testimony to that stupendous fact, as St. John informs us (John

12:17), where we read ὁτιhoti - that, instead ὁτεhote - when, “ The people

therefore that was with him bare record that he called Lazarus out of his grave,

and raised him from the dead.” The people from the city bore in their hands

palm branches, the emblems of victory. In the ancient games the crowns

were various — olive, laurel, pine, or parsley; but in every game the victor

bore in his hand the palm branch of victory. Accordingly, with these palm

branches in their hands, they welcomed him as victorious over death and

the Conqueror of the king of terrors. Soon the crowd from Jerusalem and

the multitude from Bethany met and mingled; and now all united formed

one grand triumphal procession, the like of which had never climbed or

crossed that hill. before.


  • THE ENTHUSIASM. The enthusiasm had reached its height.

Hitherto the acknowledgment of the Savior’s kingly power was confined to

actions — those of himself and his disciples; now the multitudinous voices

of the united crowd made the welkin ring with shouts of triumph. The

proclamation, no longer limited to action, now found utterance in words —

words in which the men of Bethany and the people from Jerusalem all took

part, saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” as we have it in the Gospel

by St. Matthew. This term “Hosanna! “was originally a supplication,

signifying “Save now!” and thus some understand it here, “Grant salvation

to the Son of David!” as the Hebrew verb from which it comes is

sometimes followed by a dative. It would in this way be nearly equivalent

to “God save the king!” It may, however, be better understood as a joyful

acclamation of welcome to the Savior-King long promised, but now

present, like the Io triumphe of the Romans or the paean of the Greeks.

“Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord!” Here we have one of

the designations of Messiah, who was spoken of as the Coming One; ages

had passed, but still his arrival was a matter of expectation; centuries had

roiled away, but his advent was still future. And now that he has come, it is

in the name, invested with the authority and bearing the commission, of the

great Jehovah. He came as the Vicegerent of God on earth, and as the

Mediator for man with heaven. On the occasion hero referred to, the

crowd accorded him a most cordial welcome and received him with truly

regal honors. So enthusiastic were they in the reception of their Messiah,

that they did not confine themselves, in expressing their gratulation, to the

well-known words of the familiar psalm; carried away with the outburst of

general joy, they expressed in their own spontaneous utterances their fond

anticipation of his Messianic reign, saying, “Blessed is the kingdom that

cometh, the kingdom of our father David!” for David was the great

theocratic king, and eminently typical of Messiah’s kingly power.

“Hosanna in the highest!” that is, the highest places or the highest strains.

So difficult did they find it to express their exuberant joy, and to vent their

feelings of jubilation, that they appealed to Heaven itself to give its

sanction, and called as it were on the heavenly hosts to join them and take

part in their exultation, heaven and earth being presumed of one accord and

in perfect unison on the subject. Another explanation makes the words

mean “in the highest degree,” in order to convey still greater intensity of

feeling; while a third regards it as an address to the Most High, equivalent

to “O thou that dwellest in the heavens, save, we pray; for all salvation

owns thee as its Source!”



fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy is here noticed by St. Matthew. “Tell

ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and

sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass,” is the prediction in

Zechariah 9:9; or the exact rendering of the last clause may rather be,

“and sitting upon an ass (chamar), even a colt (air), son of she-asses

(athonoth),” the ve being exegetical. The evangelist, in quoting the

prophet’s words, informs us that the purpose of what now transpired was

their fulfillment. The meaning of ἵναhina - here, as in other similar passages, is

either telic, or final, “in order that;” or ecbatic, that is, eventual or

consecutive, “so that.” If the word be taken in the former sense, it marks

the Divine purpose, and with God purpose and result are coincident; if in

the latter sense, it is a consequence, or the evangelist’s reflection on the

circumstance of what had been foretold being duly fulfilled. That ἵνα had

acquired in later Greek a weakened or modified meaning, so as to stand

midway between purpose and result, or even to denote the latter, is pretty

generally admitted.




Ø      A cause of circumspection. This is one practical effect of Christ’s

omniscience. He had perfect knowledge of the state of matters in and

round the village whither he sent his two disciples on the errand we here

read of. He told them beforehand where the animal he wanted would be

found and how it would be found — the how and where; the inquiry that

would be made of them and the answer they were to return, and the

readiness with which the desired permission would be granted them. It is a

natural and indeed necessary inference that he is equally acquainted with

ourselves — our persons, situations, and circumstances. He knows

perfectly the great things and the little things of our histories; our condition

and conduct in matters the most minute, as well as in those we deem of

most importance. From all this we learn the necessity of circumspection.

The old Roman wished his house so constructed that all that transpired

inside might be seen outside — that to the eye of every passer-by the

interior of his dwelling and all that was done in it might be visible. The

Savior’s eye penetrates not our houses merely, but our hearts. All we

think, as well as all we say and all we do, is every moment uncovered to his

inspection and open to his cognizance. How circumspect, then, we should

be! Who would not shrink from having exposed to the view of neighbor or

friend or kinsman every thought that lies deep down in the recesses of his

heart? Who would care to have every word he utters in the secret chamber

made known to his fellow-man? And who would feel quite at ease if he

knew that the eyes of some great man or nobleman or prince rested on all

his actions throughout an entire day? How careful we are to have things

presented in the best possible light, when we expect the presence of some

person of consequence or superior rank for the space of a few hours! Oh,

then, how we should feel chastened and subdued by the thought that One

greater than even the greatest of the kings of the earth knows all we do,

hears all we say, and is cognizant of all we think; and that, not for a few

hours of a single day, but every hour of every day! Surely this reflection, if

duly realized, would be a powerful help to make us circumspect in thought

and word and work, guarding our hearts, “for out of them are the issues of

life,” “keeping the door of our lips that we offend not with our tongue,”

and using circumspection in all our works and ways.


Ø      A source of consolation. The presence of a friend is often most

encouraging. The consciousness that a friendly eye is upon us in time of

difficulty, or emergency, or at some critical juncture, is a source of

strength, inspiring with courage and stimulating to energy. In sorrow or

suffering, also, a sympathetic eye goes a long way to give relief, or, where

that is out of the question, to sustain us in our sufferings. But to know that

from behind the silent blue of the arching heaven a friendly eye is ever on

us, a friendly heart ever beats in sympathy with us, a friendly hand is ever

stretched forth to wipe away the tear of sorrow, is a source of comfort

unfailing as unspeakable. The little things that vex us, the heavy griefs that

crush us, our afflictions, whether physical, or mental and more inward, are

known alike to that Friend who never changes, and who never fails nor

forsakes us.


A ground of confidence. The fulfillment of God’s Word in the past and

at the present is one of the surest grounds of confidence in time to come.

St. Matthew, writing in the first instance for Hebrew Christians who had

the prophecies in their hand, and were thus in a position to compare

prediction with performance, and having, besides, a special propensity in

that direction, is careful to note the fulfillment of prophecy, and to draw

the attention of his countrymen to the fact. The prediction referred to in

this passage had preceded its fulfillment by five centuries and a half; but it

did not fail. God’s words are “pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of

earth, purified seven times;” not one of them shall ever fail or be falsified.


“How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,

Is laid for your faith in his excellent Word!”


Human inconstancy. A heathen moralizes on the fickleness of popular

favor; it is changeable as the breeze. The psalmist no doubt had experience

of it, when he hastily concluded and hurriedly said that all men are liars; but

though his generalization was, as subsequent experience taught him, too

sweeping, yet he had had sufficient ground for his statement just then.

Hence we have the salutary caution in another psalm, “Trust not in princes,

nor man’s son.” Paul upbraids the Galatians with their changeableness,

when he says, “I bear you record, that, if possible, ye would have plucked

out your own eyes, and have given them to me. Am I therefore become

your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” A great and good man, now

with God, having had a bitter experience on one occasion of the

variableness of human favor, wrote down in his diary the cool but cutting

words, “Is it strange that men and the moon should change?” Yet never

were the fickleness and consequent worthlessness of human popularity so

strikingly exemplified as in the case of the crowd that shouted long and

lustily, Hosanna. Hosanna in the highest! but just four days after, and

before the week was out, cried long and loudly, “Crucify him! crucify

him!” What a lesson is thus taught the follower of Jesus! What a warning

to set little store by human favor and popular applause!




Ø      The sight of the city. Of the three roads that led over the Mount of

Olives — one between the two northern crests, a second right over the

summit, — the third, or southern, then as now the main road, and the one

most frequented from Bethany, was that by which the procession was

approaching the city. At a spot where it winds round the southern ridge of

the hill, the city, by a turn of the road, is at once brought full in view. At

the descent from this shoulder of Olivet, “when he was come near, he

beheld the city,” looking across the Valley of Jehoshaphat. Its temple, its

buildings, its dwellings, rising full before him, were all seen in the clear air

of a Judaean sky; at the same time, its guilty inhabitants and their future

fate were equally open to his eyes.


Ø      Jesus weeps. He paused and pondered. The sight of that splendid capital,

the knowledge of its crimes, the remembrance of God’s mercies, the

thought that it might have been spared if, like Nineveh, it had known the

day of its visitation and the things that belonged to its peace, — all these

considerations awoke the sorrow and called forth the sympathy of the

Savior. “Jesus wept over it,” as Luke informs us. He dropped a tear in

silence (ἐδάκρυσεν edakrusen - weeps) at the grave of Lazarus –

John 11:35, a departed friend; but in view of the doomed city of Jerusalem

He shed a flood of tears, weeping aloud (ἔκλαυσενeklausen

 He laments – Luke 19:41). But while His tears testified his love

and showed His tenderness, His lips pronounced the city’s fearful doom.


Ø      His affecting apostrophe. “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in

this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace!” Jerusalem had its

day, and in vain was that day protracted. “If thou hadst known, even thou,”

O ill-fated city; even thou, with all thy guilt; even thou, who hast so long

abused the forbearance of a long-suffering God; even thou, who hast been

so often reproved, and yet ever hardened thyself against reproof; even

thou, who hast had so many warnings from the prophets of God and

apostolic men; even thou, whose children I would have gathered as a hen

gathereth her chickens under her wings; if thou, oven thou, after so many

days of mercy and of privilege have been misspent, after so many days of

grace have been lost and for ever; if thou, even thou, hadst known, at least

in this thy day, in this thy last day of privilege and of promise, in this thy

last day of heavenly ministration, in this day of merciful visitation still thine,

though the eleventh hour of thy existence and the eve of thy destruction!

Never was apostrophe to place or person so tender, and never was

aposiopesis so terrible; for the sentence is suddenly broken off and left

unfinished; the clause which should state the consequence is omitted. After

this omission the Savior pauses, and then adds, “But now they are hid from

thine eyes.” The sentence might be taken as the expression of a wish: “Oh

that thou hadst known the things that belong to thy peace!” and the sense

would have remained the same and the sentiment equally solemn.


Ø      Application to ourselves. Our Lord’s address on this occasion is as

practical as it is pathetic. Personally applied, what an appeal it makes to

each one of us! Jerusalem had its day, patriarchs and prophets had their

day, evangelists and apostles had their day, ancient Jews and early

Christians had their day, the apostolic and other Church Fathers had their

day, the schoolmen and the reformers had their day, our forefathers and the

men of preceding generations had their day; but “our fathers, where are

they? and the prophets, do they live for ever?” Now, the present is our day.

God says to each of us — This, the present, is thy day! Let conscience reecho

the solemn truth, for the past is gone, and gone for ever; the future is

to come, and may never come to us; the present is all we can call our own.

This, then, is our day; for “now is the accepted time, and now is the day of



Ø      The purpose for which it is vouchsafed. Day is not merely a measure of

time, or portion of duration, or period of light, or a unit of a month or of a

year, or a fragment of existence, made up of so many hours; it is that

season for getting good and doing good which God has given us, and

which he has assigned us for accomplishing the work for which he sent us

into the world. It is thy day, reader; for God has given it to thee for a great

purpose, and that purpose is the securing of thine own eternal well-being

and the welfare of thy fellow-creature, and in both the glory of the great

Creator. It is thy day; for it is thy property as long as Heaven is pleased to

continue the boon. It is thy day; but not thine to waste or misspend; it is

not thine to while away, or trifle away, or sin away, at thy option. It is

thine; for it is a talent lent, a treasure given you by God, and for which

thou shalt have to render an account. It is thy day for imitating the Savior

in working the work of him that sent thee: and “This is the work of God,

that ye believe in him whom he hath sent;” “This is his commandment, that

we should believe on the Name of his Son Jesus Christ;” this is thy day for

attending to the conditions of peace, the things that tend to and make for

peace, such as the righteousness of Christ received by faith, repentance of

sin, and reformation of life. It is thy day for cultivating personal and

practical religion in thine own soul; thy day, moreover, for the discharge of

the duties of relative religion, because, in a certain sense, every man should

be his brother’s keeper, and no man is to live wholly to himself, or to seek

entirely and selfishly, and therefore sinfully, his own things only, but to

look also upon the things of others. It is thy day to do something for God,

something for the Church, something for the world, endeavoring to leave it

better than you found it — something useful in thy day and generation.









The Blighting of the Barren Fig Tree (vs. 12-26)

            Parallel passages: Matthew 21:12-22; Luke 19:45-48




Ø      Miracles of mercy. Mercy has been called God’s darling attribute;

judgment is his strange work. The only-begotten Son, who has declared the

Father unto us, has manifested the selfsame character. His miracles are

miracles of mercy — all save two. Of these two, one was permissive and

punitive, when our Lord allowed the devils to enter into the swine of the

Gadarenes; the other, which is recorded in this passage, is a sort of symbol

such as the old prophets used when they inculcated any solemn utterance,

or wished specially to impress any predicted event. This custom was

common in New as well as in Old Testament times. Thus Jesus washed his

disciples’ feet. Thus also Agabus, when he foretold Paul’s imprisonment at

Jerusalem, symbolized the fact by taking the apostle’s girdle and therewith

binding his own hands and feet, saying, “So shall the Jews at Jerusalem

bind the man that owneth this girdle.” In like manner our Lord, by this

miracle of the blasted fig tree, most symbolically and significantly sets forth

the blight of barrenness which so justly fell upon the Jewish people, and

which is sure to fall upon any people or any person who has only the leaves

of an outside profession, but who wants the fruits of a genuine faith or a

heartfelt piety. To pronounce a curse on a senseless tree might appear

meaningless — it might even seem vindictive. Not so, however, when the

Savior, in order to express the hopes which the appearance of the tree

excited, and the disappointment which its want of fruit occasioned,

devoted that tree by a striking figure to future and for ever fruit-lessness.

He thereby converts that tree into a symbol of the hypocrite or false

professor, be he Gentile or be he Jew; and makes it a danger-signal, at once

to warn us of the danger and ward off the doom.


Ø      Judgment succeeds the abuse of mercy. Another lesson which our Lord

teaches us by this tree is the consequence of abused mercy. When mercy

has been abused, judgment must succeed. The day of grace does not

always last; and when that day has passed, and its privileges have been

misused, the axe is then laid to the root of the tree, that it may be hewn

down and cast into the fire. Such was the case with the body of the Jewish

nation at the very time this miracle was wrought. Their day of grace was

expiring. Their heart had remained untouched by that most pathetic appeal,

“If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which

belong unto thy peace!” Now, however, they were hid from their eyes. A

woe similar to that pronounced on Chorazin and Bethsaida and Capernaum

had gone forth against all that people, notwithstanding the fact that they

had once been the people of God, and notwithstanding the many and great

privileges which they had enjoyed, as well as the loud and leafy professions

they had made.


Ø      The relation of the miracle of the fig tree to the parable of the fig tree.

The fact of this relationship should be kept in view. The miracle narrated in

this passage and the parable recorded by Luke are in a great measure

the converse of each other. The parable of the fig tree long spared through

the intercession of the vine-dresser, and this miracle of the fig tree suddenly

withered to the very roots, are to a large extent the right opposite of each

other. The one represents mercy pleading, the other judgment suddenly and

surely Overtaking the guilty; the one the long-suffering kindness of God,

the other the swift vengeance of Heaven; the one mercy prevailing over

judgment, the other judgment without mercy; the one a tree spared in hope

of fruitfulness, the other a tree suddenly scathed to the very earth because

of its barrenness. There is, however, one point, and only one point, in

common; and that is, the end of continued unfruitfulness is cursing, the end

of barrenness is burning, and the end of all leaf and no fruit is the speedy

execution of the sentence, “Bind them in bundles, and burn them.”


Ø      A comparison and a contrast. In the sixth chapter of the Epistle to the

Hebrews, we find a beautiful comparison and an awful contrast; by the

former the lesson of the parable is enforced, and by the latter the warning

of this miracle receives a solemn sanction. “The earth,” we there read,

which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth

herbs meet for them for whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God:

but that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto

cursing; whose end is to be burned.”




Ø      He hungered. The Savior was on his way from Bethany to Jerusalem. It

was in the morning, and he was hungry. This may appear strange. What

had been the matter with the friendly family of Bethany, under whose roof

our Lord had been so often and so hospitably entertained? Had they

forfeited the high character for hospitality which they had so well earned?

Had they forgotten its rights and become inconsiderate towards their Guest

a Guest whom they so highly honored, and who had such claims upon

them? Had they forgotten his wants, or neglected to supply them? Had

Martha ceased her thrift, and given up her housewifery? Be this as it may,

it could be no intentional neglect, much less a studied slight; it must have

been some strange oversight. Or, as our Lord’s time on earth was soon to

terminate, and as much was to be done that day, perhaps he left Bethany at

an earlier hour than usual; and, doing so, he could not wait till the

customary hour for breakfast, and would not allow the household

arrangements to be broken through for his convenience. Or perhaps he

wished to reach the temple in time for the morning sacrifice at nine

o’clock, before which time a devout Jew seldom broke his fast. Or perhaps

he was so intent on his Father’s business, and so intensely absorbed in his

own great work, and so rapt in contemplation of its grand results, that he

neglected the food provided for him. Or, in the absence of any direct

statement, and where we are left to conjecture, we may suppose that it is

just possible that he had shunned the shelter of any roof, and spent the

previous night in prayer on some lone hillside or other sequestered spot. At

all events, the broad fact stands out that he, by whom all things were made,

became hungry; that he, who had fed thousands in a wilderness with a few

loaves and fishes, would fain have satisfied the cravings of appetite with a

few unripe figs.


Ø      Leafage without fruitage, or all leaf and no fruit. The district through

which our Lord passed on his way, as he went from Bethany to Jerusalem,

was a fig region. A village by the way had its name from this very

circumstance; that village was Bethphage, which, as we have already seen,

means “house of figs.” Journeying through this district, he would, as might

be expected, see many fig trees. His eye, however, rested on one at some

distance. From St. Matthew’s special mention of this one fig tree we

conclude that there must have been something peculiar in its appearance.

Our Lord singled it out from all or any in the district. It was rich in leaves,

and so, full of promise. We must have in recollection the well-known fact

in reference to the fig tree, that it puts forth its fruit before its leaves. The

leaves of the fig tree, when they appeared, warranted the expectation of the

figs. The leaves of this tree, visible to a distance, must have been large and

numerous, and thus they held out the hope of abundant figs. The leafy

honors of the tree bespoke its abundant fruitfulness. On the other hand, we

are informed that “the time of figs was not yet,” by which some


o        understand that the fig harvest had not yet come — the time of

gathering the figs had not yet arrived. According to this understanding, in

which Wakefield, Wetstein, Newcome, Campbell, Bloomfield, and others

coincide, while the leaves indicated the existence of figs on the tree, the

season of the year intimated with equal certainty that they had not been

gathered off the tree; whatever fruit, therefore, the tree had, it retained.

Figs there should have been, and if the tree had been true to its promise,

figs there would have been. Figs there should have been still on the tree,

for they had had time to grow, but not yet time to be gathered. There was

every reason to expect figs on that fig tree, still green they might be, still

immature, and not yet fully ripened. And yet this forwardness of the foliage

implied the forwardness of its fruit. The advanced state of the one naturally

induced the hope of a proportionately advanced state in the other. But not

so. Our Lord approaches this goodly tree, but no fruit is there — not one

fig among all its branches, not one fig among all its leaves. We must notice

another explanation of the supposed difficulty in the words “for the time of

figs was not [yet].” We put aside at once such attempted explanations as

that of Heinsius, who, by accenting and changing the breathing, read οῦ -

instead of οὐ the negative, and rendered accordingly, “for where he was, it

was the season of figs,” that is, fruits ripened in Judaea considerably earlier

than in the less mild climate of Galilee; also the still more forced

interpretation of those who read the clause interrogatively, viz. “for was it

not the time of figs?” and the no less objectionable explanation of καιρὸς  -

kairos - season in the sense of a favorable season, for in that case the

season, not the tree, would have deserved the malediction; or in the

signification of favorable weather, as Olshausen. All these, however

ingenious they may appear, are evasive shifts and no more. But, discounting

them, we find an interpretation other than that first given and simpler, which,


o        understanding the reference to be to a precocious or premature

foliation, takes the words in their plain and natural sense. It was not the

time or season of figs — “denn es war nicht Feigenzet,” as Fritzsche

properly renders it; but this tree antedated the season by putting forth its

leaves prematurely. The appearance of the leaves was unseasonably early;

still, as their appearance implied the prior existence of fruit, the passer-by

was thus invited to approach the tree, and induced to expect and hope for

fruit. The show of leaves, though not the season of the year, favored this

expectation; accordingly he came, if therefore (ἄραara - consequently),

as it was reasonable to expect from the tree having leaves, he shall find

anything in it (ἐν αὐτῇ - en autaein her) within the compass of this

umbrageous tree, among its leaves and branches. But though He came

 (ἐπ αὐτὴνep hautaenon her) close upon it, right up to it, yet,

notwithstanding his nearness to it, and the narrowness with which he

inspected it, he found nothing but leaves.


o        Symbol of profession without performance. According to either of the

explanations above given, either (1) or (2), especially perhaps the latter,

that large fig tree, with its fine foliage and luxuriant leaves, occupying, as it

did, a prominent position near the wayside, and visible far off by reason of

its grand proportions and magnificent appearance, was nothing better than

a huge practical lie, an embodied falsehood, a palpable untruth. That tree

made a promise, but it broke it; it held out a hope, but it disappointed it; it

professed much, but performed nothing. Never was there a more striking

symbol of any people than that fig tree was of the Jews. They had enjoyed