Adam Clarke Commentary
Christ rides triumphantly into Jerusalem, Mark 11:1-11. The barren fig tree cursed, Mark 11:12-14. He cleanses the temple, Mark 11:15-17. The scribes and chief priests are enraged, Mark 11:18. Reflections on the withered fig tree, Mark 11:19-23. Directions concerning prayer and forgiveness, Mark 11:24-26. The chief priests, etc., question him by what authority he did his works, Mark 11:27, Mark 11:28. He answers, and confounds them, Mark 11:29-33.
He sendeth - two of his disciples - This was done but a few days before the passover. See our Lord‘s entry into Jerusalem illustrated, on Matthew 21:1-17 (note).
Whereon never man sat - No animal was allowed to be employed in sacred uses, even among the heathen, that had previously been used for any domestic or agricultural purpose; and those which had never been yoked were considered as sacred. See several proofs of this in the note on Numbers 19:2 (note), and add this from Ovid: -
And straightway he will send him hither - From the text, I think it is exceedingly plain, that our Lord did not beg, but borrow, the colt; therefore the latter clause of this verse should be understood as the promise of returning him. Is not the proper translation the following? And if any one say to you, Why do ye this? Say, the Lord hath need of him, and will speedily send him back hither - και ευθεως αυτον αποστελλει ὡδε . Some eminent critics take the same view of the passage.
And they let them go - Having a full assurance that the beast should be safely and speedily restored.
In the name of the Lord - Omitted by BCDLU, some others, and several versions. Griesbach leaves it out.
Hosanna in the highest! - See on Matthew 21:9 (note).
When he had looked round about upon all things - He examined every thing - to see if the matters pertaining to the Divine worship were properly conducted; to see that nothing was wanting - nothing superfluous.
And now the eventide was come - The time in which he usually left Jerusalem, to go to Bethany.
For the time of figs was not yet - Rather, For it was not the season of gathering figs yet. This I am fully persuaded is the true sense of this passage, ου γαρ ην καιρος συκων . For a proof that καιρος here signifies the time of gathering the figs, see the Lxx. in Psalm 1:3. He bringeth forth his fruit, εν καιρω αυτου , in his season; i.e. in the time in which fruit should be ripe, and fit for gathering. See also Mark 12:2: - And at the season, τῳ καιρῳ , the time of gathering the fruits of the vineyard. Matthew 21:34: - When the time of the fruit drew near; ὁ καιρος των καρπων , the time in which the fruits were to be gathered, for it was then that the Lord of the vineyard sent his servants to receive the fruits; i.e. so much of them as the holder of the vineyard was to pay to the owner by way of rent; for in those times rent was paid in kind.
I.That this tree was intended to point out the state of the Jewish people.
1.They made a profession of the true religion.
II.That our Lord‘s conduct towards this tree is to be considered as emblematical of the treatment and final perdition which was to come upon this hypocritical and ungodly nation.
1.It was a proper time for them to have borne fruit: Jesus had been preaching the doctrine of repentance and salvation among them for more than three years; the choicest influences of Heaven had descended upon them; and every thing was done in this vineyard that ought to be done, in order to make it fruitful.
1.The tree is properly the Jewish nation.
His cursing the fig tree was not occasioned by any resentment at being disappointed at not finding fruit on it, but to point out unto his disciples the wrath which was coming upon a people who had now nearly filled up the measure of their iniquity.
And they come - Several MSS. and versions have παλιν , again. This was the next day after our Lord‘s triumphant entry into Jerusalem; for on the evening of that day he went to Bethany, and lodged there, Mark 11:11, and Matthew 21:17, and returned the next morning to Jerusalem.
Should carry any vessel - Among the Jews the word כלי (keli), vessel, had a vast latitude of meaning; it signified arms, Jeremiah 21:4; Ezekiel 9:1; clothes, Deuteronomy 22:5, and instruments of music, Psalm 71:22. It is likely that the evangelist uses the Greek word σκευος in the same sense, and by it points out any of the things which were bought and sold in the temple.
And he taught - them - See on Matthew 21:12 (note).
He went out of the city - To go to Bethany.
Have faith in God - Εχετε πιϚιν θεου is a mere Hebraism: have the faith of God, i.e. have strong faith, or the strongest faith, for thus the Hebrews expressed the superlative degree; so the mountains of God mean exceeding great mountains - the hail of God, exceeding great hail, etc.
When ye stand praying - This expression may mean no more than, When ye are disposed, or have a mind, to pray, i.e. whenever ye perform that duty. And it is thus used and explained in the Koran, Surat. v. ver. 7. See on Matthew 21:20-22 (note). But the Pharisees loved to pray standing, that they might be seen of men.
At the end of this verse, the 7th and 8th verses of Matthew 7. Ask and ye shall receive, etc., are added by M, and sixteen other MSS. The 26th verse is wanting in BLS, seven others, some editions, the Coptic, one Itala, and Theophylact.
See on Matthew 21:23-27 (note).
They feared the people - Or rather, We fear, etc. Instead of εφοβουντο , they feared; the Codex Bezae, seven others, later Syriac, Arabic, Coptic, Ethiopic, Armenian, Vulgate, and all the Itala, read φοβουμεν , or φοβουμεθα . The common reading appearing to me quite improper.
1.Envy, malice, and double dealing have always a difficult part to act, and are ultimately confounded by their own projects and ruined by their own operations. On the other hand, simplicity and sincerity are not obliged to use a mask, but always walk in a plain way.
2.The case of the barren fig-tree which our Lord cursed has been pitifully misunderstood and misapplied. The whole account of this transaction, as stated above, I believe to be correct; it is so much in our Lord‘s usual manner that the propriety of it will scarcely be doubted. He was ever acting the part of the philosopher, moralist, and divine, as well as that of the Savior of sinners. In his hand, every providential occurrence and every object of nature, became a means of instruction: the stones of the desert, the lilies of the field, the fowls of heaven, the beasts of the forest, fruitful and unfruitful trees, with every ordinary occurrence, were so many grand texts, from which he preached the most illuminating and impressive sermons, for the instruction and salvation of his audience. This wisdom and condescension cannot be sufficiently admired. But shall the example of the fruitless fig tree be lost on us as well as on the Jews? God forbid! Let us therefore take heed, lest having been so long unfruitful, God should say, Let no fruit appear on thee hereafter for ever! and in consequence of this, we wither and die away! See Clarke on Mark 11:27 (note).
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