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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Mark 11

 

 

Verses 1-11

3. The Triumphal Entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. Mark 11:1-11.

(Parallels: Matthew 21:1-17; Luke 19:29-46; John 12:12-29.)

1 And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples, 2And 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[FN1] man sat; loose him, and bring him. 3And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straight-way he will send[FN2] him hither 4 And they went their way, and found the colt tied by5 the door without, in a place where two ways met; and they loose him. And certain6 of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt? And they said unto them even[FN3] as Jesus had commanded: and they let them go 7 And they brought[FN4] 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,[FN5] and strewed them in the way 9 And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying,[FN6] 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:[FN7] 11Hosanna in the highest. And Jesus[FN8] entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the even-tide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

See on the parallels in Matthew and Luke.—The Evangelist translates us at once into Palm-Sunday, as to time; and, as to place, into the region between Bethany and the Mount of Olives. The departure from Jericho took place on the Friday before the Passion-Week: it was the custom to spend the night in the district of the Mount of Olives, and to keep the Sabbath there. In Bethany, on the evening of Saturday, the meal took place in the house of Simon the Leper. On Sunday morning the journey from Bethany was continued. Now, in the accounts of the Synoptists, the beginning and the continuation of the festal journey are combined in one, because it is their object to describe the important palm-procession at once as a whole. Luke, indeed, informs us of the delay of the journey on Friday in Jericho, that Isaiah, through the Lord’s entrance into the house of Zacchæus; and he adds the delivery of a parable which is connected with that entrance, and with the expectation of the people that He would at once found the Messianic kingdom in Jerusalem. But it is John alone who tells us that the tarrying in Bethany occupied an interval; and to him also we owe the most particular explanation of the procession, in the passage, Mark 12:12-29. What is peculiar to Mark is this, that he places us by his minute specialities in the very midst of the scene. He writes in the present tense: “They come nigh; He sendeth.” The sending of the two he relates somewhat more circumstantially; while, with Luke, he omits the mention of the older ass, and does not join Matthew and John in their allusion to Zechariah 9:9. He alone marks the fact, that the colt stood tied by the door of a house in a place where two ways met; and he also gives most vividly the particulars connected with the loosing of the ass. Then he again gives his record in the present tense: They bring the foal; they lay their garments thereon. In his description of the strewing of branches and garments in the way, as well as of the Hosanna, he agrees now with Matthew and now with Luke; yet he alone has the στοιβάδες, and the greeting to the kingdom of the Messiah, as well as to the King. Several traits which are found in Matthew,, Luke, and John, he omits. Earnest and powerful is the final narrative. Jesus comes into the city, into the temple; takes all into His eye with silent, searching glance, and returns back to Bethany in the evening with the Twelve. For this distinction between the day of the entrance and the day of the cleansing of the temple, we are indebted to Mark alone.

Mark 11:1. Unto Bethphage and Bethany.—They are approaching Jerusalem; and the approach is so ordered, that they arrive at Bethphage and Bethany. The intermediate stations are measured from Jerusalem, the goal; consequently, Bethphage comes first, and then Bethany, for they proceed from Bethany over Bethphage to the city. But how is it we read towards Bethany, when the departure was from that place? First, we must bear in mind that the Sunday procession from Bethany is blended into unity with the Friday procession from Jericho. Thus the passage means, that Jesus sent His disciples forth at once from Bethany. Moreover, it may be assumed that the Bethany of that time stretched wide into the country around, and that Jesus had found a lodgment in its eastern outskirts. The district of Bethany reached as far as to join the district of Bethphage. But Bethany they had not yet arrived at: the colt was sent for from thence. Concerning Jerusalem, Bethany, Bethphage, see on Matthew. Concerning the Mount of Olives, comp. Winer and the travellers.

Mark 11:2. Whereon never man sat.—So also Luke. This circumstance is wanting in Matthew, but perfectly agrees with his account of the mother-ass. The foal had up to this time run with its mother. Meyer discerns in this notice “an appendage of reflective tradition, based on the sacred characteristic of the animal (for unused animals were put to sacred purposes, Numbers 19:2; Deuteronomy 21:3; 1 Samuel 6:7).”—Matthew did not note the circumstance, because it was self-understood that the foal was not yet used, so long as it was a foal running with the mother. See the notes on Matthew.

Mark 11:3. And if any man say unto you.—That this significant interchange of sayings implies previous acquaintance and private watchwords, is proved by the use of the εἰπεῖν in Mark, and in Luke of the emphatic οὕτως ἐρεῖτε. So is it with the ordering of the Passover-feast by such a particular one: εἱπατε αὐτῷ. Luke has the equivalent ἐρεῖτε, with the addition, λέγει σοι διδάσκαλος.

Mark 11:4. Without, in a place where two ways met.—The ἄμφοδον means primarily a way encompassing a block of houses; then the street, and even a quarter of the town. The animal being fastened to the door points to the open space before the house.

Mark 11:8. Branches.—The word στοιβάδες is an error of the transcriber; the Codd. B. D, and others, read στιβάδες. The στιβάς is a scattering of straw, reed, branches, or twigs. The plural and the cutting down point to branches of trees. According to John 12:13, palm-leaves were strewed (as the symbol of peace).

Mark 11:10. The kingdom of our father David.—That Isaiah, the kingdom of the Messiah as the spiritual restoration of the kingdom of David, which had become, for the Jew, a type of the Messianic kingdom, as David was a type of the Messiah. “The Messiah Himself was also called David, among the Rabbis (Schöttgen, Hor. ii).” (Meyer.)

Mark 11:11. He went out unto Bethany.—Meyer insists on it that there is here a discrepancy with Matthew. It is a discrepancy when the definite is opposed to the definite; but not when the definite is opposed to the indefinite. This well-founded canon of hermeneutics would demolish many of the discrepancies pointed out by school criticism. Matthew and Luke wrote no diaries. There is no difference here, any more than the blending of the parts of the palm-procession into the journey of one day makes the Synoptists and John disagree. Matthew and Luke connect the cleansing of the temple with the import of the palm entry; but this Mark does not. Christ, according to his account, takes a general survey, which in its silent observation betokened the cleansing which would take place on the morrow.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. See on Matthew and Luke.

2. The expectation of the Messiah was the expectation of His kingdom; hence the salutation of the Messiah was the salutation of His kingdom. Christ and His kingdom are not to be separated; but the kingdom of His cross and the kingdom of His glory are to be distinguished, even as the glorified Christ is distinguished from the Christ in the form of a servant. Of this gulf between the kingdom here and the kingdom there, most of the jubilants had no idea; many rose not beyond it, but plunged below.

3. The Mount of Olives a symbol.

4. The palm-procession in Mark is brief, earnest, sublime. A swift progress to the city, and to the temple; ending in a wide and silent inspection of the temple until evening.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

See on Matthew, and the preceding reflections.—Christ’s goal in His royal procession: to the temple.—The significance of Christ’s coming to the temple: 1. The types and promises, Exodus 40:34; 1 Kings 8; 2 Chronicles 5; Isaiah 2; Isaiah 46:20; Ezekiel 43; Haggai 2:3; Haggai 2:9; Zechariah 14:20; Malachi 3:1. 2. The historical visits paid to it: the child Jesus in the temple, the visit when twelve years old, the feasts, Jesus as the public Messiah in the temple, the Pentecost, the burning of the temple in a. d703. The spiritual visitations of the temple.—The history of the temple the history of the world; the history of the temple the history of the kingdom of God.—The palm-entry into the temple, according to its external and its internal form: 1. The great procession to the great cathedral; 2. Christ the judged, and Christ the Judges, conducted by a wretched people to the deserted house of God.—Christ comes to the temple, 1. from Galilee with the ecclesiastical devout, 2. from Jericho with the enthusiasts, 3. from Bethany with His friends and servants, 4. from the Mount of Olives alone with His Holy Spirit.—Christ in the temple as the Jesus of twelve years, and as the openly-proclaimed Messiah.—Christ in the beautiful new-built temple; or, the difference between an æsthetic and a spiritual inspection of the temple.—The fearfully silent glance of Christ in the temple until evening.—The Lord’s visitation of His churches: 1. He knows and sees all; 2. He sees and looks through all; 3. He looks through all, and keeps silence; 4. He keeps silence, thinking upon judgment and mercy.—Christ’s entrance and exit at His temple visitation: 1. The entrance: through the city straight to the temple; 2. the exit: from the temple to Bethany.—The procession of the people with Christ to the temple.

Starke:—Thus Jesus comes as the Lamb of God, and places Himself on the altar of sacrifice. Certainly this was not the act of a mere Prayer of Manasseh, thus joyfully to come, to give Himself up to His enemies, and go to confront His death.—Comp. the foal, 1 Samuel 6:7.—Canstein:—The Lord needs not that we should give Him anything, for all is always His; yet He may require it for certain purposes.—Quesnel:—All things must be cast under the feet of Jesus.—Nova Bibl. Tub.:—Where Jesus Isaiah, there is life, movement, praise, and joy.—How necessary is the visitation of the churches!—Hedinger:—The eye and the heart may well take pleasure, as in nature, so also in art, her copy. (But all in its measure and in its time.)—Gerlach:—(The foal never yet used.) This trait points to the fact that Jesus made His entrance as Priest-King.—Braune:—Believers gladly place their substance at the feet and disposal of Jesus, their Master.—In the way of obedience (which the disciples followed), light always arises upon light.—The Lord now came upon the animal of peace, not as one day upon the great white horse to judgment.—Thus they received with peaceful joy the Prince of peace.—Every festal pilgrim was received with the “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord;” but the greeting befitted Him in a peculiar and, higher sense.

Schleiermacher:—We must confess that, though they may not have been the same men (who first cried Hosannah! then Crucify Him), yet that it was the same people.—The oneness and interdependence of the people makes the difference of the individuals disappear.—We cannot help regarding this gross fickleness and instability as the proper characteristic of the great mass.—(Christ keeping silence in the temple till even-tide.) The boundary between the old and the new covenant came nearer and nearer: the one was to find its end, and the other was to be erected on the ruins of the former.—What thoughts touching the past must have arisen, and how deep must His emotions have been, in the consciousness of what He came to do, when He compared the magnificence and glory of the old covenant with the spiritual life of the new covenant, which, far removed from all outward demonstration, unseen and unpretending, was creating for itself its own form in sweet and gentle silence; when He compared the magnificence and glory of the external temple with the spiritual temple built of living stones, in which His spirit should dwell, and where should be established for ever the worship of His heavenly Father in spirit and in truth!

Brieger:—The devotion of the garments to His service intimates something extraordinary. When Jehu in the camp was to be proclaimed as king, a throne of garments was erected for him. This, with the sound of trumpets, and the cry, “Jehu is king,” made up the homage ( 2 Kings 9:13). Here we have something similar, whereby homage is done to Jesus.—As a light before its final extinction blazes up once more, so Israel before their final fall lifted themselves up to Jehovah once more. But as at Sinai they were put to shame after professing obedience ( Exodus 20:19), through making the golden calf, so here they are put to more wretched shame, by so soon crying, Crucify Him! crucify Him!—Now does the Father set His Son as a King upon His holy hill of Zion, Psalm 2:6.—Christ was a King from this hour. In all the parables from this point, His own Person is the centre. He speaks and acts as a king. (But we must distinguish between the time when the people heralded Him as king, and when God lifted Him up to His throne: between Palm Sunday and the Resurrection and Ascension.)

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Mark 11:2.—Lachmann reads οὐδεὶς οὔπω, after B, Origen, and others. [A. reads οὐδεὶς πώποτε.] Tischendorf and Meyer, after B, C, L, Δ. read λύσατε αὐτὸν καὶ φέρετε.

FN#2 - Mark 11:3.—In several Codd, B, C.*, D, L, Δ., &c, stands πάλιν. Thus the clause is made part of the answer of the disciples: The Lord will use the colt and send it back again.—Probably this was designed to soften the seeming violence of the transaction. [Elzevir and Fritzsche read ἀποστελεῖ.]

FN#3 - Mark 11:6.—Καθὼς εἶπεν corresponding to the preceding εἶπον, according to B, C, L, Δ., Lachmann, Tischendorf, [Meyer].

FN#4 - Mark 11:7.—B, L, Δ., Origen, Tischendorf, Meyer, read φέρουσιν instead of ἤγαγον. Ἐπιβάλλουσιν, emphatic Present, [B, C, D, L, Δ., Vulgate, Griesbach, Fritzsche, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer].

FN#5 - Mark 11:8.—Tischendorf’s reading (recommended by Meyer), ἄλλοι δὲ στιβάδας, κόψαντες ἐκ τῶν ἀγρῶν, is not sufficiently supported. [Ἀγρῶν is found in B, C, L, Δ., Syriac (margin); Fritzsche, Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Meyer regard στιβάδας as the correct form.]

FN#6 - Mark 11:9.—The λέγοντες is wanting in B, C, L, Δ., [Tischendorf; bracketed by Griesbach, Lachmann].

FN#7 - Mark 11:10.—The reading, ἐν ὀνόματι κυρίου, has some important Codd. against it, but A. and others sustain it. It was probably corrected as being difficult: but the difficulty is obviated if we regard the expression “kingdom” (poetically brief, without the Article) as repeated in thought. [Meyer rejects it.]

FN#8 - Mark 11:11.—‘O’ Ἰησοῦς is an explanatory addition. [Rejected by Griesbach, Fritzsche, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer.]


Verses 12-26

4. The Withered Fig-tree, and the House of Prayer made a Den of Thieves. The Cleansing of the Temple.

Mark 11:12-26.

(Parallels: Matthew 21:12-22; Luke 19:45-46.)

12 And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry 13 And seeing a fig-tree afar off,[FN9] 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[FN10] of figs was 14 not yet. And Jesus[FN11] answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it. 15And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and over-threw16 the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them that sold doves; And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple 17 And he taught, saying unto them,[FN12] Is it not written, My house shall be called of [by] 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 was 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,[FN13] they saw the fig-tree dried up 21 from the roots. 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 23 them, Have faith in God. For[FN14] 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,[FN15] believe that ye receive them,[FN16] and ye shall have them. 25And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any; that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.[FN17] 26But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

See on the parallels in Matthew and Luke.—Notwithstanding Mark’s conciseness in his record, we can yet distinguish three days of Jesus’ abode in the temple; that Isaiah, of the Messianic residence there of the King. Sunday was the day of entrance and looking around, Mark 11:1-11. Monday was the day on which the fig-tree was cursed, the temple was cleansed, and those festal works were done by Jesus in the temple which filled up the exasperation of His enemies, Mark 11:12-19. Then Tuesday was the day of His conflict in the temple with all the assaults of His enemies in their several divisions, and of His departure from the temple, Mark 11:20; Mark 13:37. On Wednesday Jesus remained in concealment, as we are positively assured by John ( Mark 12:37); and probably it was then that He completed His discourse of the last things by adding those eschatological parables which Matthew communicates: unless we may assume rather that they were uttered on the night between Tuesday and Wednesday within the circle of His most confidential disciples. The allusions to night might suit such a view, Matthew 24:42-43; Matthew 25:6; Matthew 25:30. The silent Wednesday of His concealment was then devoted to the preparation of His larger body of disciples, and to purposes of retired devotion.

The unity of this section lies in the narrative of the fig-tree cursed. Mark makes it the starting-point of His account of Jesus’ wonderful works in the temple during Monday. The individual particulars of these festal wonders are singled out prominently by Matthew, Matthew 21:12-15. Therefore he brings into this second day the cursing of the fig-tree, with its withering up. Luke also indicates these festal hours, Luke 19:47-48. For the peculiar significance of the facts of the Greeks earnestly desiring to see Jesus, and the discourse which that occasioned, see the Notes on John 12:20-36. But the Evangelist Mark takes the whole day into his view under its severe aspect. Hence he connects all this with the narrative of the fig-tree; and this section embraces the time from Monday morning to Tuesday morning. Thus, according to his account, the cursing of the fig-tree preceded the cleansing of the temple on Monday morning. With Matthew, who likewise has the narrative, it follows it; because Matthew purposed more strongly to stamp the contrast of the two temple-days—the day of peace and the day of contest. Concerning the fig-tree, Mark preliminarily remarks that it had leaves (which from afar might seem to be inviting). But in connection with the circumstance that Jesus found no figs upon it, he has the remarkable clause οὐ γὰρ ἦν, etc, the time was not yet (concerning which, see below). Matthew’s word, “Let no fruit grow henceforth,” he gives concretely: “Let no man eat,” etc. He adds, that the disciples heard it. The cleansing of the temple he relates again with an ἤρξατο: He began. And he adds to the picture, that Jesus would not suffer any vessel to be carried through the temple. The explanatory word of Christ he introduces as instruction (ἐδίδασκε), and in vigorous interrogative form (οὐ γέγραπται). To the “house of prayer” he adds, “for all nations;” which Luke has not, and which reminds us of “every creature,” Luke 16:15. The confusion of the Sanhedrim on this day, and their projects as to the manner in which they should kill Jesus—seeing that they feared the people, who did earnest homage to Jesus—he connects rightly with this day; while Luke records it more indefinitely ( Luke 19:47-48), as also Matthew in somewhat similar manner ( Matthew 21:15-16), and John also in another aspect of it ( John 12:17-19). Then follows, according to Mark, the departure of Jesus from the city. Matthew tells us that the fig-tree had straightway withered. Mark relates that it was early in the morning, as they passed by. Thus the withering had proceeded in the course of a day and night; and that, as he remarks, from the root. Matthew makes the disciples see, wonder, and speak; Mark records more precisely how Peter remembered the circumstance and spoke. The words themselves are more vivid here: Rabbi, behold, etc. Thereupon Jesus utters the word concerning the removing of mountains by faith: more concretely apprehended in Mark; more generally in Matthew. But Mark connects with this promise of Jesus the very important word concerning the hearing of prayer ( Mark 11:24), and the condition of being reconciled with our brother ( Matthew 6:14).

Mark 11:12. And on the morrow.—Therefore, on the Monday morning after the Sunday of the palms.—He was hungry.—Early departure, haste to enter the work of the day, and much else, lay at the foundation of this fact.

Mark 11:13. If haply, εἰ ἄρα: that Isaiah, because it had leaves; since the leaves of the fig-tree appear after the fruit. Matthew 19:19.—The time of figs was not yet.—See the note on Matthew. As the tree had leaves, it promised fruit; for the harvest-time of figs, when it might have been stripped of its fruit, was not yet come. For the various explanations of this, see De Wette and Meyer. As καιρός signifies the full and perfect time, the meaning is clear enough. Between the period of leaf-formation and the time of fig-harvest, one might seek for figs from a tree standing exposed. But not till the καιρός had come could the tree be stripped. Thus the οὐ γὰρ is not an explanation of the circumstance that it had no figs, but of the Lord’s coming and seeking, by which it appeared that the tree had only produced its leaves. The expression, “He found nothing but leaves only,” signifies that He saw with displeasure that, as a worthless tree, it had nothing but leaves upon it. This He might conclude from the fact that the time of harvest had not yet come, and, therefore, that it was not already stripped of its fruit. According to Meyer, the meaning Isaiah, that the tree could not yet have borne fruit. “If it had been the time of figs, He would have found fruit besides the leaves.”[FN18] But then a premature doom would have been pronounced on the tree. The early display of leaves was certainly irregular; but if it had been a certain sign of its dying, the Lord would not have sought fruit upon it. If it could put forth leaves, it must have been able previously to set its fruit.

Mark 11:14. And Jesus said unto it.—Properly, answered and said. Bengel: arbori fructum neganti.

Mark 11:16. Concerning the temple, see on Matthew.—And would not suffer that any man should, ί̔να; the toleration of evil is the procurement of it.—Any vessel.—No man durst carry tools and implements through the sacred precincts of the temple, that Isaiah, through the fore-court. Was it intended to avoid a circuitous route, as in a great city profane passages may be made through holy places? But the temple space was not in the way of such passing. Many, however, might bring their implements of toil with them at their devotions, in order to have them conveniently at hand. The carrying them through, was, therefore, not literally a passing through with them, but rather the having them at hand; and it is opposed to the business of money-changing and selling doves which was carried on within the temple itself. According to Lightfoot and Wetstein, the Rabbins afterwards forbade the same thing.

Mark 11:17. Of all nations.—The prediction of the prophets, that the temple should be a house of prayer for all nations, had a higher meaning (see Isaiah 2and other passages). There must be a distinction, however, between the Israelite bondsmen who brought their offerings ( Leviticus 17:8; Leviticus 22:19; Ezra 2:43; Ezra 7:7), and the later proselytes of the gate; the relative recognition of these latter had given occasion to the symbol of the Court of the Gentiles. Therein lay the germ of the universality of the religion of promise. See on Matthew. That the additional clause occurs only in Mark, is not to be accounted for only on Gentile-Christian grounds; for it is wanting in Luke. It is peculiar to Mark that he everywhere lays stress upon the universality of the Gospel.[FN19]

Mark 11:18. Sought how they might destroy Him.—This was their counsel on Monday: that Jesus should die, had been already previously decided ( John 5:16; John 7:32; John 10:31; John 11:45). They now confusedly took counsel about the how;[FN20] since it seemed almost an impossibility, on account of the people, on this day of His wonderful ascendancy in the temple. Then again on Wednesday: “not on the feast-day,” although Judas had preliminarily dealt with them on the Sunday concerning the matter. The Palm Sunday may have made Judas suspicious again, or brought his promise into doubt. Then he came on Thursday evening, after a new crisis had come (the departure of Jesus from the temple), and his exasperation had become complete.

Mark 11:20. They saw the fig-tree dried up from the roots.—See on Matthew. Meyer naturally finds here another discrepancy with Matthew. Matthew is inexact in his record, only on account of a higher end that he contemplated in his narrative. Nor does Mark say that the withering had just then taken place, or been finished. The tree was now in a marvellous manner dried up; and that, as he adds, from the roots—from its diseased root upwards, throughout.

Mark 11:22. Faith in God.—Trust towards God, πίστις Θεοῦ (Genitive of the object). More general view of faith, with reference to the personal source of miraculous power, the almighty God of the covenant: Mark 9:23. Compare Matthew 17:20; Luke 17:6.

Mark 11:24. That ye receive them.—That Isaiah, in the divine confidence of faith that is already received which in external reality has yet to come: Hebrews 11:1. The prayer of faith is heard: as prayer in the name of Jesus, John 14:13-14; John 16:23-24; John 16:26; or, as the prayer of a holy society, the Church, Matthew 18:19; or, as the prayer of the Holy Ghost, Romans 8:26-28.

Mark 11:25. When ye stand praying.—Comp. Matthew 5:23-24; Matthew 6:14-15. As the word concerning the faith which moves mountains might have originally been uttered in more than one connection, so also that concerning the forgiveness of others, as the condition of all true offering of prayer, and its answer. But in this place, where Jesus connected this strongest assurance of the marvellous power of faith with the cursing of the fig-tree, it seems inevitable that He should declare how such a faith could not be sundered from a placable love; that it should never be used in the service of hate and fanaticism.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1 See on the parallel in Matthew, and also the previous notes.

2. The Song of Solomon -called cursing of the fig-tree is the rather to be regarded as a grand prophetic Acts, because Christ, as Christ, now stood at the climax of the palm festivity, and it was obvious that all Israel might now do Him homage. This symbolical act at such a crisis was a sure sign that He was perfectly conscious of the situation of things; as also was the weeping over the city during the festal procession according to Luke.

3. The cleansing of the temple at the beginning and at the end of Christ’s pilgrimage, the earnest of a manifold cleansing of the Church from Gentile and Jewish perversions.

4. The declaration of the curse in its sacred form, a revelation to explain its real nature, and thereby to remove it; as contrasted with man’s curse of evil wishing.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

See on Matthew.—The fig-tree a figure of Israel, and a warning sign to the Church: 1. As the fruitful fig-tree, which sets forth fruit sooner than leaves. So Israel. It had faith, and the works of faith, before it had the ceremonies of faith. So the early Church2. As the unfruitful fig-tree, which had an adornment of leaves, promising fruit deceitfully. So the Israel of the time of Jesus, and so the external Church of later times and the last.—The cursing of the fig-tree in its relation to the cleansing of the temple: 1. An indication of the morning thoughts of the Lord concerning Israel; 2. a prelude to the coming expurgation of the temple; 3. a prophetic token (for the hopeful disciples, concerning the coming solemn issue of things).—The judgment of Jesus upon the fig-tree, and His judgment upon the temple with its service.—Christ hungering on the morn of His greatest day of honor: or, the great sign of the spiritual purity and freedom of the kingdom of Christ.—The Lord’s hunger on the temple-mountain, and His thirsting on Calvary.—How zeal for the Lord should keep itself pure from hatred against men.—Only in the spirit of reconciliation can the Christian execute the judicial office.—The flames of Christ’s wrath a loving zeal, which is always one with the spirit of reconciliation.—We cannot help others in the way to heaven by the hateful and tormenting fury of fanaticism.

Starke:—Christ knows what the feeling of the hungry is.—If we endure hunger, we should not murmur, remembering Him.—Canstein:—Christ demands nothing of Prayer of Manasseh, if he has not had time; nor does He come to seek till the time is up.—Osiander:—Hypocrites have a semblance of godliness, but no true fruits of faith; and Song of Solomon, if they repent not, they must perish.—Hedinger:—We must rid the Church of every abuse, and spare no man.—Quesnel:—Every believer is a temple of God, and must entertain the same zeal for his own soul’s purity as Jesus displayed for the purity of the visible sanctuary.—Osiander:—The churches which celebrate a false worship of God are dens of thieves; they wrest for themselves the goods of simple people, and slay their souls.—Those who devote themselves to the correction of ecclesiastical abuses have commonly to encounter great opposition, their lives being sometimes laid in wait for.—An evil conscience must always tremble at itself, and is never bold in its work.—Quesnel:—The truth everywhere makes a division among the people; some think to oppress it, while others hear it with wonder and faith.—Gerlach:—If you do not find that your believing prayer is granted, ask yourself what lies within that hinders your being heard.—Braune:—Benevolent and like a Creator were all His miracles.—This is the only one which punishes and hurts, but it is performed on an inanimate object. It was designed to set luminously before us the reality of the divine punishments.—He pronounced here upon the tree that which, in the parable of the barren fig-tree, the vinedresser had spoken of as in store for it.—Enmity to man suffers not the philanthropy of God to reach us.—Faith and reconcilableness go together.—Schleiermacher:—All that pertains to the community of Christian life and fellowship should be so ordered as to be free from all reference to the outward commerce of this world (on the cleansing of the temple)—Gossner:—Words, oral prayers, formularies, external exercises without the spirit, good wishes and mere resolutions, are mere leaves, if the Spirit of God does not invigorate them, and they bear no fruit.

Footnotes:

FN#9 - Mark 11:13.—[Griesbach, Fritzsche, Scholz, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer, after important MSS, read ἀπό before μακρόθεν.]

FN#10 - Mark 11:13.—Lachmann reads καιρός with the Article, following Origen and several Codd.; and thus the true meaning of the passage becomes more definite.

FN#11 - Mark 11:14.—‘O’ Ἰησοῦς, interpolated.

FN#12 - Mark 11:17.—Καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς, according to C, L, Δ., &c. Πεποιήκατε, B, L, Δ., Origen, [Tischendorf, Meyer,] instead of ἐποιήσατε.

FN#13 - Mark 11:20.—The order of B, C, L, Δ., Lachmann, and Tischendorf is παραπορευόμ. πρωἴ.

FN#14 - Mark 11:23.—The γάρ (for) is wanting in B, D, Lachmann, Tischendorf. The additional clause, ἐὰν εἴπη, is wanting in B, C, D, L, Δ., Tischendorf.

FN#15 - Mark 11:24.—Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer, after B, C, L, Δ., read προσεύχεσθε καὶ αἰτεῖσθε: a more comprehensive promise.

FN#16 - Mark 11:24.—Codd. B, C, L, Δ., read ἐλάΒετε, instead of λαμβάνετε: accepted by Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Meyer.

FN#17 - Mark 11:26.—This verse is wanting in B, L, S, Δ., and some others. Tischendorf gives it up. Lachmann and Meyer retain it, after C. and others. But it is an interpolation which some MSS, after Mark 11:26, add from Matthew 7:7-8.

FN#18 - “Ὀυ γὰρ ἦν καιρὸς σύκων gives the reason why Jesus found nothing but leaves. If it had been the season for figs (viz, June, when the early fig, Boccore, ripens), he would have found fruit besides leaves, and would not have been deceived by the unseasonable (abnormal) leafage of the tree.” Meyer, in loc.—Ed.]

FN#19 - On the harmony here, Starke says: This was the third time that He thus cleansed the temple. The first time in John 2; the second time on the day before this, immediately after His entrance, Matthew 21:10; Matthew 21:12.

FN#20 - This would be indicated by the Future, ἀπολέσουσιν, of the Received Text; the Subjunctive, απολέσωσιν, adopted by Lachmann and Tischendorf, would imply that the purpose itself to put Christ to death was now formed.—Ed.]


Verses 27-33

SECOND SECTION

THE DECISIVE CONFLICT OF JESUS WITH HIS ENEMIES IN JERUSALEM, AND HIS WITHDRAWAL TO THE MOUNT OF OLIVES

s Mark 11:27 to Mark 13:37

________

1. The Attack of the Sanhedrim; or the Question concerning Christ’s Authority, and His Counter-question concerning the Baptist’s. Mark 11:27-33.

(Parallels: Matthew 21:23-27; Luke 20:1-8.)

27 And they come again to Jerusalem: and as he was walking in the temple, there28 come to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders, And say[FN21] unto him, By what authority doest thou these things, and who gave thee this authority to do these things? 29And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question, 30 and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. 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[FN22] did ye not believe 32 him? But if[FN23] 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,[FN24] saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

See on the parallels of Matthew and Luke.—According to Mark’s representation, this day of Christ’s conflict falls on Tuesday of the Passion Week. But the conflict is subdivided into three parts: 1. The official demand as to Jesus’ abode and supremacy in the temple, exhibited in the question of the Sanhedrim touching His authority; with its reply, as in our present section2. The ironical acknowledgment, on the side of the inimical party, of Christ’s Messianic dignity, exhibited in a series of tempting questions and answers; with the great counter question, of Jesus3. The Lord’s words to the people, and departure from the temple. Mark’s account has in our text no prominent peculiarities; he agrees rather with Luke than with Matthew. His vivid style of delineation is seen in the trait that Jesus went round about the temple, while according to Matthew, He was in the act of teaching (though these are not inconsistent with each other); as also the second clause of the Sanhedrim’s pondering—“But if we shall say.” The Evangelist’s choice of the expression λέγει αὐτοῖς, Mark 11:33, seems appropriate; while Matthew says ἔφη, and Luke εἶπεν. As the Sanhedrim refused Him a decisive declaration concerning John, who had prophetically authenticated Him as the Messiah, He also refused to them the decisive declaration they sought. This was, however, in itself decisive; but not in the form of an express statement.

Mark 11:27. Doest Thou these things?—See Matthew. This meant, doubtless, the public appearance and work of Jesus in the temple under the Messiah-name which the people gave Him; amongst the rest, certainly, as an individual Acts, the cleansing of the temple also. The law ordained that prophets were to be tried, Deuteronomy 13:1. The most essential requisite was agreement with the faith of the God of Israel; the accidental requirement was the performance of miracles. The latter was not valid without the former; but it was not said that the former without the latter was not valid. (Comp. Deuteronomy 18:20; Ezekiel 13:1). The Sanhedrim could hold themselves justified only in asking for the authority of Jesus. They could not deny that He had approved Himself by miracles. They were disposed, however, to make it a reproach, that He taught other gods, and a new religion. Hence they ask Him: 1. After the divine source of His power, prophetic inspiration; 2. after His theocratic authentication. By the latter the former also was approved, and therefore Jesus appealed to John. John was the most recent monument of the truth and validity of the prophetic order in Israel. And this John had marked Him out as the Messiah. They had been compelled to allow his validity as a prophet, although they did not afterwards acknowledge him. They would entangle Jesus by making Him appeal to His divine dignity; but the word of Jesus entangled them and smote them at the same time. It was a reference to His theocratic legitimation, the bearer of which they durst not openly impeach; and at the same time a remembrancer that they themselves had, since the days of John, been falling deep into apostasy.

Mark 11:31. If we shall say.—The abrupt form is expressive, and more significant than the full unfolding of it in Matthew and Luke, “We fear,” which certainly declares the motive of their silence.

Indeed (of a truth).—According to the reading o̓́ντως ό̓τι, which Tisch. adopts from B. C. L, Meyer translates “They were inwardly sure that John was a prophet.” But A. D. and others form a counterpoise; as well as the consideration that this would attribute to the people altogether, and as a whole, the full and believing acceptance of John.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. See on the parallels.

2. The counter-question of Jesus arose as the simple consequence of the question addressed to Him. That question was addressed to His theocratic authority. This was already involved in the authentication by John. If they acknowledged John, they must acknowledge also his witness to Jesus as the Messiah. If they did not acknowledge him, they were in a theocratic sense rebels; and Christ could, in the consciousness of His real, human-divine authority, transcending all theocratic authorization, refuse to give them an answer.

3. From heaven or of men.—Divine mission or human enthusiasm. The antithesis is here laid down, with reference to the contrast between the divine and the human in the human sphere, and does not prejudice the union of the divine and human in the Christological sphere.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

See Matthew.—Christ in His temple assaulted by the official rulers of the place.—Vainly would hierarchical official authority suppress the divine mission of Jesus.—The misuse of spiritual prerogatives against the rights of the Spirit of Christ a guilt which brings after it the severest punishments: 1. Misuse of dignity calls down the judgment of disgrace; 2. misuse of office calls down displacement and rejection from office.—The Spirit of Christ triumphs over the false spirituality of His enemies: 1. With His counter-question opposing their question; 2. with His counter-declarations against their declarations.—The authority of Christ to take possession of the temple of God, as opposed to the impotence of His foes: 1. The authority: a. His theocratic authority; b. His personal divine-human authority; c. the authority which rose out of His actual Passion-conflict2. The impotence of His foes: a. as rejecters of the God-sent Baptist, forsaken of human justice; b. as rejecters of Christ, forsaken of the Spirit; c. as enemies and murderers of Christ, forsaken of God in His government of the world.—The obedience of Christ as confronting the Jewish priesthood, an emblem of Christian faith confronting churchly office: 1. The Lord regards the office as under the condition of obedience to the revelation of God, because it issues from that Revelation 2. He regards Himself as under the obligation to obey the revelation of God, because He is the consummation of it. Or, 1. In His suffering a question; 2. in His declining to answer; 3. in His willingness to submit to officials, so long as their rejection is not complete.—The heavenly prudence of the Lord in its triumph over the human wisdom of His enemies.—How the spirit of the New Covenant confronts the false representatives of the Old Covenant in God’s temple: 1. With the clear word of knowledge; 2. with the firm word of assurance; 3. with the sharp word of judgment; 4. with the abundant word of life and of freedom.

Starke:—Nova Bibl. Tub.:—Zeal for God’s house and for its purity is sure to awaken enemies.—Conscience bears witness against the worst of men: they are their own accusers, Judges, condemners.—Osiander:—They who will not suffer the Church’s amendment in rule and discipline must fall.—Canstein:—When those in the teaching and ruling office are unfaithful to their calling, and God raises up others extraordinarily, the former take all pains to deny to the latter the power that God Himself has given them.—Hedinger:—The good need prudence in their intercourse with cunning and wicked people, lest their simplicity and openness bring harm to them and their cause.—Quesnel:—Miserable case when the men of light use their knowledge of the truth to oppose that truth.—How many will not in religious matters be sincere, and reveal the truth, lest they be assaulted and tried!—Bibl. Wirt.:—The scorners of the truth, God will in the end count not worthy of the truth they scorn; but, instead of it, will send them strong delusions, that they should believe a lie, 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12.

Braune:—He might have appealed to many prophets (yet not in the same sense as to John). They would then have said: But that was in a former age. He takes the latest example (of a prophetic vocation).

Footnotes:

FN#21 - Mark 11:28.—Tischendorf reads, with B, C, L, Δ., ἔλεγον, and for καὶ (τίς) with B, L, D.

FN#22 - Mark 11:31.—The οὖν is wanting in A, C.*, L, Versions, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer.

FN#23 - Mark 11:32.—The ἐάν is wanting in the best Codd.; omitting it, the sentence takes a very characteristic interrogatory form.

FN#24 - Mark 11:33.—The ἀποκριθείς is wanting in B, C, [L, Tischendorf, Meyer,] and elsewhere varies in its position.

 


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.

Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Mark 11:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/mark-11.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 13th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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