And when they draw nigh unto Jerusalem, unto Bethphage1
and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth two of his disciples,
JESUS' TRIUMPHAL ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM. (From Bethany to Jerusalem and back, Sunday, April 2, A.D. 30.) Matthew 21:1-12 Matthew 21:14-17 ; Mark 11:1-11 ; Luke 19:29-44 ; John 12:12-19
- Bethphage. The name is said to mean "house of figs", but the derivation is disputed. Canon Cook and others think that the region onthe eastern slope of Olivet was called Bethphage, and that Bethany waslocated in it. If it was a village, all trace of it has long sincevanished, and it is not worth while to give the guesses and surmises ofcommentators as to its location. But it was evidently near Bethany.
11:2 and saith unto them, Go your way into the village that is over against you1: and straightway as ye enter into it, ye shall find a colt tied2, whereon no man ever yet sat3; loose him, and bring him.
- Go your way into the village that is over against you. Probably Bethphage, for Jesus started from Bethany.
- And straightway as ye enter into it, ye shall find a colt tied. Numerous Scripture references show that the ass was held in highestimation in the East. The sons of the judges used them, and David'smule was used at the coronation of Solomon ( Judges 10:4 ; 1 Kings 1:33 ).
- Whereon no man ever yet sat. It is specifically stated that no man had ever sat upon this colt, for if the colt had been used by men, itwould have been unfit for sacred purposes ( Numbers 19:2 ; Deuteronomy 21:3 ; 1 Samuel 6:7 ).
11:3 And if any one say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye, The Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him back hither2.
- And if any one say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye, The Lord hath need of him. The owner of the ass was no doubt a disciple or well-wisher of Jesus, and therefore readily consented to respond to theMaster's need. Such a well-wisher might readily be found in a multitudeready to lay their garments in the road to honor Christ.
- And straightway he will send him back hither. These words are usually construed to be a promise on the part of Christ that he wouldreturn the colt when through with him. But such a promise seems ratherout of keeping with the dignity of the occasion. We prefer to construethe words as referring to the movements of Christ's two messengers fromthe neighborhood of Bethany to Bethphage and back again, or to abackward movement along the caravan's line of march.
11:4 And they went away, and found a colt tied at the door without in the open street1; and they loose him.
- And they went away, and found a colt tied at the door without in the open street. The streets being narrow, one would very seldom seean ass tied in one.
11:7 And they bring the colt unto Jesus, and cast on him their garments1; and he sat upon him.
- And they bring the colt unto Jesus, and cast on him their garments. The garments were the loose cloaks worn over the tunics or shirts. Thiscloak survives in the abba or hyke of the modern Arab. The unbrokencolt would of course have no saddle, and these loyal disciples lenttheir cloaks to supply the deficiency, and to do Jesus royal honor.
11:8 And many1 spread their garments upon the way2; and others branches, which they had cut from the fields3.
- And many. See Matthew 21:8.
- Spread their garments upon the way. Compare the enthronement of Jehu ( 2 Kings 9:13 ).
- And others branches, which they had cut from the fields. Palm trees were never abundant in Palestine, but there were many aroundJericho, through which city these Galilean pilgrims had so recentlycome. They were date palms, the leaves of which were often ten feet inlength. They are now comparatively rare, but are found in the plains ofPhilistia. The palm branch is emblematic of triumph and victory( Leviticus 23:40 ; Revelation 7:9 ). See also 1 Macc. 13:51 and 2 Macc. 10:7. It hasbeen the custom of all lands to bestrew in some manner the pathway ofthose who are thought worthy of the highest honor. When Lafayettevisited our fathers after the Revolution, the roads over which heapproached our cities were strewn with flowers. Thus over flowersAlexander entered Babylon, and Xerxes crossed the bridge of theHellespont over a myrtle-strewn pathway. Monier tells of a Persianruler who in modern times made his honored progress over a road forthree miles covered with roses. But it is more natural to contrast theentry of Jesus with the Roman triumphs so popular in that day. Thewealth of conquered kingdoms was expended to insure their magnificence.We find none of that tinsel and specious glitter in the triumph ofChrist. No hired multitudes applaud him; no gold-broidered banner wavein his honor. There is nothing here but the lusty, honest shout of thecommon people, and the swaying of the God-made banners of the royalpalms. The rich in purse, the learned in schoolcraft and the high inoffice were, as usual, not there ( 1 Corinthians 1:26 ).
11:9 And they that went before, and they that followed, cried1, Hosanna2; Blessed [is] he that cometh in the name of the Lord3:
- And they that went before, and they that followed, cried. The shouting appears to have been started by those who came out ofJerusalem; it is evident, therefore, that the apostles who wereapproaching the city with Jesus had nothing to do with inciting thispraise.
- Hosanna. This is the Greek form or spelling of two Hebrew words, "Hoshiah-na", which means, "Save now", or, "Save, I pray", "na" beinga particle of entreaty added to imperatives. The two words are takenfrom Psalms 118:25 , which was recognized as the Messianic Psalm. Theshout "Hosanna" was customarily used at the feast of the tabernaclesand the other festivals. It was a shout of exaltation about equivalentto "Salvation".
- Blessed [is] he that cometh in the name of the Lord. See Psalms 118:26 . The Evangelists give us the various cries of the multitude,for they did not all cry one thing ( Mark 11:9 Mark 11:10 ; Matthew 21:9 ; Luke 19:38 ;of the Messiahship of Jesus, but popular cries are soon caught up andare as fickle as the impulses which beget them. But the publicrecognition of the Messiahship of Jesus gave weight to the accusationmade by Simon Peter on the day of Pentecost that they had slain theMessiah ( Acts 2:36 ). Compare Acts 3:14 Acts 3:15 .
11:10 Blessed [is] the kingdom that cometh, [the kingdom] of our father David: Hosanna in the highest1.
- Hosanna in the highest. This phrase is taken to mean in the highest degree or highest strains or in the highest heavens. It is likely theywere calling upon heaven to participate in glorifying and to ratifytheir shouts of salvation.
11:11 And he entered into Jerusalem1, into the temple2; and when he had looked round about upon all things, it being now eventide3, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve4.
- And he entered into Jerusalem. Jesus' route led him down the steep face of Olivet, past Gethsemane, across the stone bridge which spansthe Kedron, and up the slope of Moriah to the eastern gate of the city.
- Into the temple. Here Matthew tells of the cleansing of the Temple ( Matthew 21:12 ), which evidently occurred the next day.
- It being now eventide. A general expression concerning the period both before and after sunset.
- He went out unto Bethany with the twelve. Having inspected the temple as his Father's house, Jesus withdrew from it, for in thepresent state of rancor which fermented within his enemies it was notsafe for him to spend the night within Jerusalem.
11:12 And on the morrow1, when they were come out from Bethany2, he hungered3.
BARREN FIG-TREE. TEMPLE CLEANSED. (Road from Bethany and Jerusalem. Monday, April 4, A.D. 30.) Matthew 21:18 Matthew 21:19 Matthew 21:12 Matthew 21:13 ; Mark 11:12-18 ; Luke 19:45-48
- And on the morrow. On the Monday after the triumphal entry.
- When they were come out from Bethany. Returning to Jerusalem.
- He hungered. Breakfast with the Jews came late in the forenoon, and these closing days of our Lord's ministry were full of activitythat did not have time to tarry at Bethany for it. Our Lord's hungerimplies that of the disciples also.
11:13 And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find anything thereon1: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for it was not the season of figs2.
- And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find anything thereon. Two varieties of figs are common inPalestine. The bicura or boccore, an early fig with large green leavesand with fruit which ripens in May or June, and sometimes earlier nearJerusalem. Thomson found ripe fruit of this variety as early as May inthe mountains of Lebanon, a hundred fifty miles north of Jerusalem, andProfessor Post, of Beirut, states that fig-trees there have fruitformed as early as February, which is fully ripe in April. The secondvariety is the summer fig or kermus. This ripens its main crop inAugust, but its later fruitage often hangs on all winter when theweather is mild, dropping off when the new spring lives come.
- And when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for it was not the season of figs. As the fruit usually appears before the leaves,the leaves were a promise that fruit might be found, and the fruit,though not perfectly ripe, is considered edible when the leaves aredeveloped. Though it was too early for fruit, it was also too early forleaves. The tree evidently had an unusually favorable position. Itseemed to vaunt itself by being in advance of the other trees, and tochallenge the wayfarer to come and refresh himself.
11:14 And he answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit from thee henceforward for ever1. And his disciples heard it2.
- No man eat fruit from thee henceforward for ever. Our Lord here performed a miracle of judgment unlike any other of his wonderfulworks. The reader can hardly fail to note how perfectly this fig-tree,in its separation from the other trees, its showy pretensions, itsbarrenness of results and its judgment typifies the Jewish people. Infact, Christ's treatment of it appears in some respects to be a visibleand practical application of the principles which he had formerly setforth in a parable ( Luke 13:6-9 ). But we must not too confidently makesuch an application of the parable since Jesus himself gave no hintthat he intended to so apply it.
- And his disciples heard it. The disciples did not pause to watch the effect of Christ's words upon the tree ( Matthew 21:19 ). But from thedegree to which it had shriveled when they saw it the next day, itbecame evident to them that it had begun to wither as soon as Christhad finished uttering its sentence.
11:15 And they come to Jerusalem: and he entered into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and them that bought in the temple1, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them that sold the doves;
- And he entered into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and them that bought in the temple. Three years before, Jesus had thuscleansed the temple at the first Passover of his ministry, for anaccount of which see John 2:13-25 .
11:16 and he would not suffer that any man should carry a vessel through the temple1.
- And he would not suffer that any man should carry a vessel through the temple. The temple space being level and roomy tempted the peopleof Jerusalem to use it as a thoroughfare, or short-cut from one part ofthe city to another, but Jesus did not permit them to carry any sack,bag, jug, pail, basket, parcel or such like thing through the sacredenclosure. The Greek word "skeuos" which is here translated "vessel"embraces all kinds of household furniture. It is translated "goods" at Matthew 12:29 ; Luke 17:31 . The Septuagint uses it as equivalent to "weaponsof war" at ( Deuteronomy 1:41 ), and to "garment" at ( Deuteronomy 22:5 ).
11:17 And he taught, and said unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations1? but ye have made it a den of robbers2.
- My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations? The prophecy cited is a combination of Isaiah 56:7 ; Jeremiah 7:11 .
- But ye have made it a den of robbers. The caves in certain sections of Palestine have been immemorially infested with robbers, and Jesus,because of the injustice of extortion practiced by the merchants,likens the polluted temple to such a den. The dickering and chafing andmarket talk were probably not unlike the grumbling and quarreling ofthieves as they divide the booty.
11:18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, for all the multitude was astonished at his teaching.
- The scribes and chief priests . . . feared him. Overawed by the magnitude of the popular demonstration made on Sunday, the Jewishrulers feared to attempt any violent measures in dealing with Jesus.But they neglected no opportunity by appeals to Jesus himself, bytreacherous questions, etc., to divert the popular favor from the Lordthat they might put him to death.
11:19 And every evening he went forth out of the city1.
FINDING THE FIG-TREE WITHERED. (Road from Bethany to Jerusalem, Tuesday, April 4, A.D. 30.) Matthew 21:20-22 ; Mark 11:19-25 ; Luke 21:37 Luke 21:38
- And every evening he went forth out of the city. To the Mount of Olives ( Luke 21:37 ).
11:20 And as they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away from the roots1.
- And as they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away from the roots. It was completely withered--dead root and branch.One coming into Jerusalem from Bethany is apt to come down the steepside of Olivet, and that one returning to Bethany is apt to take theeasier grade, though longer way, around the south end of the mountain.This fig-tree was apparently on the short road, and was sentencedMonday morning. The disciples, returning by the other or longer road toBethany or its vicinity, did not see the tree Monday evening, but theysaw it Tuesday morning, when they again came back by the short road.From these facts argue a method of coming and going, from which it maybe fairly inferred that Jesus, on the day of his triumphal entry,approached Jerusalem by the short road, though Stanley, Edersheim, andmany others, think he came in over the long road.
11:21 And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Rabbi, behold1, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away2.
- And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Rabbi, behold. Peter is surprised both at the suddenness and at the fullness of thejudgment. Since the miracles of Jesus, heretofore, had been only thoseof mercy, Peter boldly invited the Lord to discuss this miracle, hopingfor more light on its meaning.
- The fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away. Jesus had simply condemned it to fruitlessness, but his condemnation involved it in anevil which it justly deserved. The judgment of God reveals; and thatwhich is dead in fact is made dead in appearance also.
211:23 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall say unto this mountain1, Be thou taken up and cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that what he saith cometh to pass; he shall have it.
- Whosoever shall say unto this mountain. Olivet.
- Be thou taken up and cast into the sea and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that what he saith cometh to pass; he shallhave it. The disciples whom Jesus addressed were very soon to enterupon a task which would seem to them as difficult as the removal ofmountains. The license and immorality of paganism, and the bigotry andprejudice of Judaism, would seem insurmountable obstacles in theirpathway to success. They needed to be assured that the power of faithwas superior to all these adverse forces, and that the judgments of Godcould accomplish in a moment changes which apparently could not bewrought out in the tedious course of years. As we today look back uponthis promise of Christ we can see that the mountains then standinghave, indeed, been removed; and that which seemed vigorous andflourishing has been blasted in a day.
11:24 Therefore I say unto you, All things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them1.
- All things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. Jesus here lays down the broad generalrule in the application of which we must be guided by other Scriptures.The rule is, indeed, liberal and gracious, and the limitations are justand reasonable. We must not expect to obtain that which it is unlawfulfor us to desire ( James 4:2 James 4:3 ), or which it is unwise for us to seek( 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 ), nor must we selfishly run counter to the will of God( Luke 22:42 ; 1 John 5:14 1 John 5:15 ), nor must we expect that God shall perform amiracle for us, for miracles have ceased--in short, we must pray to Godin full remembrance of the relationship between us, we must considerthat he is the Ruler and we his subjects, and are not to think for onemoment that by faith we can alter this eternal, unchangeable relation.
11:25 And whensoever ye stand praying1, forgive, if ye have aught against any one; that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
- Whensoever ye stand praying. A customary attitude.
- Praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any one. Forgiveness has already been enjoined. See Matthew 6:12. Here our Lord emphasizes theneed of forgiveness because he had just performed a miracle ofjudgment, and he wished his disciples to understand that they must notexercise their miraculous gifts with a vengeful, unforgiving spirit.They must suffer evil and not retaliate with miracles of judgment.
11:27 And they come again to Jerusalem1: and as he was walking in the temple2, there come to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders3;
IN REPLY TO THE QUESTIONS AS TO HIS AUTHORITY, JESUS GIVES THE THIRD GREAT GROUP OF PARABLES. (In the Court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, A.D. 30.) A. INTRODUCTION Matthew 21:23-27 ; Mark 11:27-33 ; Luke 20:1-8
- And they come again to Jerusalem. Jesus and the disciples.
- And as he was walking in the temple. The large outer court of the temple, known as the court of the Gentiles, was thronged during thefeasts, and was no doubt the part selected by Jesus and his apostleswhen they taught or preached in the temple. We thrice find them on thatside of it where Solomon's porch was located ( John 10:23 ; Acts 3:11 ; Acts 5:23 ).
- There come to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders. The Sanhedrin. See Mark 8:31. This committee ofthat august tribunal came in formal state and with a great show ofauthority, hoping to make it apparent to the people that Jesus was anunauthorized, self-appointed meddler in matters over which they hadexclusive control.
11:28 and they said unto him, By what authority doest thou these things1? or who gave thee this authority to do these things2?
- By what authority doest thou these things? To regulate and control the affairs of the temple belonged unquestionably and exclusively tothe priests and Levites.
- Or who gave thee this authority to do these things? Knowing that Jesus had no authority from any priest or any scribe, they boldlychallenged his right to cleanse the temple or to teach in it, feelingsure that to defend himself he would be forced to publicly declarehimself as the Messiah, and thus to give them the matter for accusationwhich they had long sought ( John 10:24 ).
11:29 And Jesus said unto them, I will ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things.
- I will also ask of you one question. The question which Jesus asked was intimately and inseparably connected with the question which theyhad asked.
11:30 The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or from men? answer me.
- The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or from men? answer me. Jesus, of course, did not derive his authority from John the Baptist,but John had testified plainly to the Messiahship of Jesus, and had inno uncertain terms, designated Jesus as immeasurably greater thanhimself. Now, if the Pharisees admitted that John was a heaven-sentmessenger or witness (of which fact his baptism was propounded as atest, since it was a religious ordinance introduced on his authority),then John had already answered the Sanhedrin that Jesus derived hisauthority from his Messiahship, and hence, all that the Sanhedrin hadto do was to satisfy their minds was simply to "believe" John. But if,on the other hand, the Pharisees rejected John's pretensions and claimsas a heaven-sent messenger in the face of the almost universal popularconviction, then what was there for Jesus to present his claims to soblind, bigoted, and unreasoning a body?
11:31 And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; He will say, Why then did ye not believe him1?
- If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him? When he testified to the Messiahship of Jesus( John 1:7 John 1:15 John 1:34 ; John 3:26-36 ; John 10:40-42 ). The Sanhedrin could not admitthat the messenger was heaven-sent and yet deny his testimony.
11:32 But should we say, From men--they feared the people: for all verily held John to be a prophet1.
- But should we say, From men--they feared the people: for all verily held John to be a prophet. It should be noted in their consultationthere was no effort either to ascertain or to speak the truth. Thequestion as to whether John really was or was not a prophet was in nosense the subject of their investigation. They were merely decidingwhat to say.
11:33 And they answered Jesus and say, We know not1. And Jesus saith unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things2.
- We know not. They were seeking for the most expedient answer, and as neither truthful answer was expedient, they resolved to falsely denyany knowledge of the case. Men of such brazen dishonesty could not bedealt with openly and fairly as could sincere seekers after truth.Their spoken lie was, "We cannot tell", but their inward and trueanswer was, "We will not tell".
- Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things. Jesus answered the suppressed truth saying, "Neither do I tell". How readilythe subtle minds of the Jewish people would justify Jesus in thusdeclining to submit the question of his authority to judges who at thatvery moment publicly confessed their inability to even hazard anopinion, much less render a decision, as to the authority of John theBaptist, who claims were in popular estimation so obvious. It was plainthat however well these men might judge human credentials, the divinetestimonials of a prophet or of the Messiah were above their carnalsphere. Thus Jesus put his enemies to confusion in the first of manconflicts of that perilous Tuesday. But we may well imagine that theywere rendered more bitter by the evidence of a wisdom so much beyondany which they possessed.