11. And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon--surveyed.
all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out into Bethany with the twelve--Thus briefly does our Evangelist dispose of this His first day in Jerusalem, after the triumphal entry. Nor do the Third and Fourth Gospels give us more light. But from Matthew ( Matthew 21:10 Matthew 21:11 Matthew 21:14-16 ) we learn some additional and precious particulars, for which sleep in the city, nor, from the day of His Triumphal Entry, did He pass one night in it, save the last fatal one.
The Barren Fig Tree Cursed ( Mark 11:12-14 ).
12. And on the morrow--The Triumphal Entry being on the first day of the week, this following day was Monday.
when they were come from Bethany--"in the morning" ( Matthew 21:18 ).
he was hungry--How was that? Had he stolen forth from that dear roof at Bethany to the "mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God?" ( Luke 6:12 ); or, "in the morning," as on a former occasion, "risen up a great while before day, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed" ( Mark 1:35 ); not breaking His fast thereafter, but bending His steps straight for the city, that He might "work the works of Him that sent Him while it was day?" ( John 9:4 ). We know not, though one lingers upon and loves to trace out the every movement of that life of wonders. One thing, however we are sure of--it was real bodily hunger which He now sought to allay by the fruit of this fig tree, "if haply He might find any thing thereon"; not a mere scene for the purpose of teaching a lesson, as some early heretics maintained, and some still seem virtually to hold.
13. And seeing a fig tree--(In Matthew 21:19 , it is "one fig tree," but the sense is the same as here, "a certain fig tree," as in Matthew 8:19 , &c.). Bethphage, which adjoined Bethany, derives his name from its being a fig region--"House of figs."
afar off having leaves--and therefore promising fruit, which in the case of figs come before the 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--What the precise import of this explanation is, interpreters are not agreed. Perhaps all that is meant is, that as the proper fig season had not arrived, no fruit would have been expected even of this tree but for the leaves which it had, which were in this case prematurely and unnaturally developed.
14. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever--That word did not make the tree barren, but sealed it up in its own barrenness.
And his disciples heard it--and marked the saying. This is introduced as a connecting link, to explain what was afterwards to be said on the subject, as the narrative has to proceed to the other transactions of this day.
Second Cleansing of the Temple ( Mark 11:15-18 ).
Lessons from the Cursing of the Fig Tree ( Mark 11:20-26 ).
20. And in the morning--of Tuesday, the third day of the week: He had slept, as during all this week, at Bethany.
as they passed by--going into Jerusalem again.
they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots--no partial blight, leaving life in the root; but it was now dead, root and branch. In Matthew 21:19 it is said it withered away as soon as it was cursed. But the full blight had not appeared probably at once; and in the dusk perhaps, as they returned to Bethany, they had not observed it. The precision with which Mark distinguishes the days is not observed by Matthew, intent only on holding up the truths which the incident was designed to teach. In Matthew the whole is represented as taking place at once, just as the two stages of Jairus' daughter--dying and dead--are represented by him as one. The only difference is between a mere summary and a more detailed narrative, each of which only confirms the other.
21. And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him--satisfied that a miracle so very peculiar--a miracle, not of blessing, as all His other miracles, but of cursing--could not have been wrought but with some higher reference, and fully expecting to hear something weighty on the subject.
Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away--so connecting the two things as to show that he traced the death of the tree entirely to the curse of his Lord. Matthew ( Matthew 21:20 ) gives this simply as a general exclamation of surprise by the disciples "how soon" the blight had taken effect.
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 . . . he shall have whatsoever he saith--Here is the lesson now. From the nature of the case supposed--that they might wish a mountain removed and cast into the sea, a thing far removed from anything which they could be thought actually to desire--it is plain that not physical but moral obstacles to the progress of His kingdom were in the Redeemer's view, and that what He designed to teach was the great lesson, that no obstacle should be able to stand before a confiding faith in God.
24. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them--This verse only generalizes the assurance of Mark 11:23 ; which seems to show that it was designed for the special encouragement of evangelistic and missionary efforts, while this is a directory for prevailing prayer in general.
25. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any; that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses, &c.--This is repeated from the Sermon on the Mount to remind them that if this was necessary to the acceptableness of all prayer, much more when great things were to be asked and confidently expected.