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The LORD JESUS entereth Jerusalem in triumph. The barren Fig Tree. CHRIST's Conversation with the Chief Priests.
A ND when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples, (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. (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. (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. (8) And many spread their garments in the way; and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way. (9) And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: (10) Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in, the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the Highest. (11) And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple; and when be had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve.
Bethphage and Bethany, seem to have been somewhat like suburbs to Jerusalem; two little straggling villages joining to the city, the one ending like streets where the other began. From hence, and through these, the LORD was pleased to make a public entry into Jerusalem. The Prophet Zechariah foretold this; and as no king but Zion's King ever made such an entry, there can be no question concerning the prophecy, and the accomplishment of it. Zechariah 9:9 .
I venture to think, that the disciples never gave a more decided token of their faith; perhaps none equal to it, during our LORD's ministry, than in thus going without hesitation, to take the colt according to his bidding. For, as the act itself was taking what was not their own, one might have expected that the disciples would have said so, when Jesus commanded them. But the manner in which he gave the order: his foretelling where they should find the colt, and the answer they were to give to the owners; the LORD hath need of him; as if intimating the LORD and proprietor of all things. These circumstances over-ruled their minds to an instant obedience. And it is probable, I think, that as the disciples never gave over, even till CHRIST's death, their expectation of a temporal Kingdom, they might have been inclined to hope, that the LORD was now about to assume the government.
It is well worthy the Reader's remark, that the LORD JESUS went not to the Court, but to the Temple, as if to shew, that his kingdom was not of this world. Sweet consideration to the heart of the believer! So the Prophet described him; and so the LORD JESUS fulfilled the prophecy. Malachi 3:1-2 . Nothing can be more decided in confirmation of CHRIST's character, than the over-ruling the minds of those little children to proclaim him for the CHRIST! And what could be more in point, in thus fulfilling that memorable prophecy. Psalms 8:2 . Surely, never did the LORD more signally silence the malice of his enemies, than when out of the mouths of unconscious children the GODHEAD and CHRISTSHIP of the Redeemer was thus acknowledged! If my Poor Man's Commentary should happen to fall into the hands of children; yea, even little children, or should be read in their hearing, I would beg the little ones of CHRIST's fold to notice this account; and I would beg the elders present to notice it to them. JESUS took delight in their testimony then, and so JESUS doth now. What can be more lovely than to hear the glory of the LORD out of the mouth of babes and sucklings. Mark 10:13-16 ; 2 Timothy 3:15 .
(12) And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry: (13) And seeing a fig tree afar off; having leaves, he came, if haply he might find anything thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves: for the time of figs was not yet. (14) And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter forever; and his disciples heard it. (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 money-changers, and the seats of them that sold doves: (16) And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. (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. (18) And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him; for they feared him, because all the people were astonished at his doctrine. (19) And when even was come, he went out of the city. (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. (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. (24) Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. (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. (26) But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
Every incident in this passage is interesting, and I beg the Reader's attention to it. And first, we are told that our LORD was hungry. Reader! never forget it, for it is among the most precious points of our holy faith, that the SON of GOD when he took into union with himself, our nature, took the whole of that nature in all the sinless infirmities of our nature, and was truly and properly Man as well as GOD. For had he not been so, he would not have suited for the purposes of redemption. An angel's nature would not have done; for how would he then have felt as man, and known as man, what his people know and feel? JESUS hungered, wept, groaned, bled, died. And hence in those very feelings, knows the feelings of his people, in all these, and every other case. See Hebrews 2:0 . throughout.
The next thing to be noticed in this sweet passage, is the barren fig tree, and the LORD's condemning it to everlasting barrenness. But from the first view of the subject, we may well suppose that somewhat more than a mere fig tree is meant by it. No doubt the Jewish nation is referred to, which like this fig tree, had great shew of religion, as this tree had leaves; but not an atom of fruit; yea; nationally considered, they rejected the LORD of life and glory. But the similitude reached to every other mere professor of the Gospel; in every age of the Church, void of the fruit of CHRIST's righteousness. And all such, front an awful representation in the present day, deceiving by the appearance of large full leaves of a profession without fruit; and its the end will be found dried up from the roots, with the curse of a broken law falling everlastingly upon then, untaken away by CHRIST. Our LORD's observations to his in upon the occasion, are most sweet and precious. Faith in GOD; that is, in the rich mercies of GOD in CHRIST, and the faithfulness of JEHOVAH's covenant promises in him, will remove all sin, and all difficulties; as it Mount Olivet, which stood far front the sea, was carried at once into it. Indeed, what cannot faith, which is the gift of GOD in CHRIST, accomplish! See Hebrews 11:0 . See Matthew 21:18 , etc. For the observation of CHRIST's driving the buyers and sellers out of the temple, see John 2:14 .
(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 dost thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things? (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. (30) The baptism of John, was it from heaven or of men? answer me. (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. (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.
I am inclined to think, that those sworn enemies to CHRIST, who are said here to have come to JESUS in the temple, demanding his authority, came in a public body, by way of confronting him; and as those who were sent by the Sanhedrim for that purpose, and determined to silence him, and put an end to his preaching. The LORD Jesus had turned out the buyers and sellers from the temple, and had healed the blind and lame which came to him for that purpose into the temple; and was now teaching the people while walking about the temple, as was the custom in those days among a set of philosophers, who walked with the pupils as they taught them. Let the Reader figure to himself the LORD JESUS thus attacked, and observe the wisdom of the LORD in his answer. By directing not only the minds of his enemies to the subject of John's ministry, but also those to whom he was preaching his Gospel, the LORD took the most effectual method to throw to the ground their opposition, and establish his mission. They dared not admit John's ministry to be of divine appointment; for in so doing they would have acknowledged CHRIST, for the whole of John's office pointed to CHRIST. And most probably the congregation to whom Jesus was then preaching, had been among John's disciples; so that to have denied John's mission, would have been dangerous. The wretched state to which they were reduced, therefore, in confessing their ignorance, serves to shew the awful delusion under which those men were. And Reader, when we recollect that this transaction took place only a few days before CHRIST's death, the matter becomes yet more awful concerning them; for though put to silence and unable to answer CHRIST, they departed from him only with more determined hatred to seek his immediate death. Reader! You and I shalt have read this account to very little profit, if it doth not teach us to what a desperate state the heart of man is capable of being hardened; and at the same time the distinguishing mercy of GOD in every instance where grace is given to believe the record GOD hath given of his dear SON! 1 John 5:10-11 .
READER! I would call upon you, as I would call upon myself; and may GOD the HOLY GHOST mercifully call upon both, to behold the LORD JESUS, in the opening of this chapter, as manifesting his double nature in his one glorious person, the GOD-Man Mediator; both in his unequalled humility when entering Jerusalem, in having salvation, and yet lowly and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass. And who less than GOD, could have exercised the knowledge of Omniscience so as to direct his disciples where to find the colt; and the power of inclining the minds of those the disciples were to meet, to fulfil CHRIST's wishes in the loan of the colt? Who less than GOD could have taught the children in the temple of CHRIST's person and character? And what power less than divine, could have constrained those babes to shout Hosannah to the glory of JESUS; when the elders, and many of them very probably the parents of those little ones, were doing all their malice could contrive, to stop their hymns of praise?
Reader! behold the barren fig tree! Observe its fruitless verdure! Figure to yourself the state of a church, a people, a family; yea, an individual, thus! And calculate if you can the awful state of appearing flourishing to the eye of man, while under the blighting curse of GOD. Oh! the tremendous sentence, could it be heard, concerning the unauthorized, uncalled, unsent minister, or graceless people No man eat fruit of thee for ever
LORD JESUS! increase our faith! let mountains of sin and unbelief be removed through faith in thy person, blood, and righteousness! And oh! let the malice of thy foes, and the opposition made by men to thee and thy Gospel, endear both to our heart. And grant such rich supplies of grace in the knowledge of thy person and work, that our faith may never be founded in the wisdom of man, but in the power of GOD.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Mark 11". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany