11:1 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 21:1-12,14-17; 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 on
the eastern slope of Olivet was called Bethphage, and that Bethany was
located in it. If it was a village, all trace of it has long since vanished,
and it is not worth while to give the guesses and surmises of commentators
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 high estimation
in the East. The sons of the judges used them, and David's mule was used at
the coronation of Solomon (Judges
10:4; 1 Kings
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, it would
have been unfit for sacred purposes (Numbers
21:3; 1 Samuel
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 the Master's need. Such
a well-wisher might readily be found in a multitude ready 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 would return
the colt when through with him. But such a promise seems rather out of
keeping with the dignity of the occasion. We prefer to construe the words as
referring to the movements of Christ's two messengers from the neighborhood
of Bethany to Bethphage and back again, or to a backward 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 see an 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. This
cloak survives in the abba or hyke of the modern Arab. The unbroken colt
would of course have no saddle, and these loyal disciples lent their 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
Spread their garments upon the way. Compare the enthronement of
Jehu (2 Kings
And others branches, which they had cut from the fields. Palm trees
were never abundant in Palestine, but there were many around Jericho,
through which city these Galilean pilgrims had so recently come. They were
date palms, the leaves of which were often ten feet in length. They are now
comparatively rare, but are found in the plains of Philistia. The palm
branch is emblematic of triumph and victory (Leviticus
7:9). See also 1 Macc. 13:51 and 2 Macc. 10:7. It has been the custom of
all lands to bestrew in some manner the pathway of those who are thought
worthy of the highest honor. When Lafayette visited our fathers after the
Revolution, the roads over which he approached our cities were strewn with
flowers. Thus over flowers Alexander entered Babylon, and Xerxes crossed the
bridge of the Hellespont over a myrtle-strewn pathway. Monier tells of a
Persian ruler who in modern times made his honored progress over a road for
three miles covered with roses. But it is more natural to contrast the entry
of Jesus with the Roman triumphs so popular in that day. The wealth of
conquered kingdoms was expended to insure their magnificence. We find none
of that tinsel and specious glitter in the triumph of Christ. No hired
multitudes applaud him; no gold-broidered banner wave in his honor. There is
nothing here but the lusty, honest shout of the common people, and the
swaying of the God-made banners of the royal palms. The rich in purse, the
learned in schoolcraft and the high in office were, as usual, not there (1 Corinthians
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 of Jerusalem; it
is evident, therefore, that the apostles who were approaching the city with
Jesus had nothing to do with inciting this praise.
Hosanna. This is the Greek form or spelling of two Hebrew words,
"Hoshiah-na", which means, "Save now", or, "Save, I
pray", "na" being a particle of entreaty added to
imperatives. The two words are taken from Psalms
118:25, which was recognized as the Messianic Psalm. The shout
"Hosanna" was customarily used at the feast of the tabernacles and
the other festivals. It was a shout of exaltation about equivalent to
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
19:38; of the Messiahship of Jesus, but popular cries are soon caught up
and are as fickle as the impulses which beget them. But the public
recognition of the Messiahship of Jesus gave weight to the accusation made
by Simon Peter on the day of Pentecost that they had slain the Messiah (Acts
2:36). Compare Acts
11:10 Blessed [is] the kingdom that
cometh, [the kingdom] of our father David: Hosanna in
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 they were
calling upon heaven to participate in glorifying and to ratify their shouts
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 spans the
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
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 the present
state of rancor which fermented within his enemies it was not safe 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
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 activity that did not
have time to tarry at Bethany for it. Our Lord's hunger implies that of the
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 in
Palestine. The bicura or boccore, an early fig with large green leaves and
with fruit which ripens in May or June, and sometimes earlier near
Jerusalem. Thomson found ripe fruit of this variety as early as May in the
mountains of Lebanon, a hundred fifty miles north of Jerusalem, and
Professor Post, of Beirut, states that fig-trees there have fruit formed as
early as February, which is fully ripe in April. The second variety is the
summer fig or kermus. This ripens its main crop in August, but its later
fruitage often hangs on all winter when the weather 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 are developed. Though
it was too early for fruit, it was also too early for leaves. The tree
evidently had an unusually favorable position. It seemed to vaunt itself by
being in advance of the other trees, and to challenge 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 wonderful works. The
reader can hardly fail to note how perfectly this fig-tree, in its
separation from the other trees, its showy pretensions, its barrenness of
results and its judgment typifies the Jewish people. In fact, Christ's
treatment of it appears in some respects to be a visible and practical
application of the principles which he had formerly set forth in a parable (Luke
13:6-9). But we must not too confidently make such an application of the
parable since Jesus himself gave no hint that 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 the degree to which it had shriveled when they saw it
the next day, it became evident to them that it had begun to wither as soon
as Christ had 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 thus
cleansed the temple at the first Passover of his ministry, for an account of
which see John
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 people of
Jerusalem to use it as a thoroughfare, or short-cut from one part of the
city to another, but Jesus did not permit them to carry any sack, bag, jug,
pail, basket, parcel or such like thing through the sacred enclosure. The
Greek word "skeuos" which is here translated "vessel"
embraces all kinds of household furniture. It is translated
"goods" at Matthew
17:31. The Septuagint uses it as equivalent to "weapons of
war" at (Deuteronomy
1:41), and to "garment" at (Deuteronomy
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
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 and market talk
were probably not unlike the grumbling and quarreling of thieves 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 Jewish rulers
feared to attempt any violent measures in dealing with Jesus. But they
neglected no opportunity by appeals to Jesus himself, by treacherous
questions, etc., to divert the popular favor from the Lord that 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
And every evening he went forth out of the city. To the Mount of
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 steep side of
Olivet, and that one returning to Bethany is apt to take the easier grade,
though longer way, around the south end of the mountain. This fig-tree was
apparently on the short road, and was sentenced Monday morning. The
disciples, returning by the other or longer road to Bethany or its vicinity,
did not see the tree Monday evening, but they saw 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 may be fairly inferred that Jesus, on the
day of his triumphal entry, approached Jerusalem by the short road, though
Stanley, Edersheim, and many 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 the
judgment. Since the miracles of Jesus, heretofore, had been only those of
mercy, Peter boldly invited the Lord to discuss this miracle, hoping for
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 an evil
which it justly deserved. The judgment of God reveals; and that which 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 shall have it.
The disciples whom Jesus addressed were very soon to enter upon a task which
would seem to them as difficult as the removal of mountains. The license and
immorality of paganism, and the bigotry and prejudice of Judaism, would seem
insurmountable obstacles in their pathway to success. They needed to be
assured that the power of faith was superior to all these adverse forces,
and that the judgments of God could accomplish in a moment changes which
apparently could not be wrought out in the tedious course of years. As we
today look back upon this promise of Christ we can see that the mountains
then standing have, indeed, been removed; and that which seemed vigorous and
flourishing 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 general
rule in the application of which we must be guided by other Scriptures. The
rule is, indeed, liberal and gracious, and the limitations are just and
reasonable. We must not expect to obtain that which it is unlawful for us to
4:2,3), 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
5:14,15), nor must we expect that God shall perform a miracle for us,
for miracles have ceased--in short, we must pray to God in full remembrance
of the relationship between us, we must consider that he is the Ruler and we
his subjects, and are not to think for one moment 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 the need of forgiveness because he had
just performed a miracle of judgment, and he wished his disciples to
understand that they must not exercise 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.
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 the feasts,
and was no doubt the part selected by Jesus and his apostles when they
taught or preached in the temple. We thrice find them on that side of it
where Solomon's porch was located (John
There come to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders.
The Sanhedrin. See Mark
8:31. This committee of that august tribunal came in formal state and
with a great show of authority, hoping to make it apparent to the people
that Jesus was an unauthorized, self-appointed meddler in matters over which
they had exclusive 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 to the
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 boldly challenged
his right to cleanse the temple or to teach in it, feeling sure that to
defend himself he would be forced to publicly declare himself as the
Messiah, and thus to give them the matter for accusation which they had long
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
I will also ask of you one question. The question which Jesus asked
was intimately and inseparably connected with the question which they had
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 in no
uncertain terms, designated Jesus as immeasurably greater than himself. Now,
if the Pharisees admitted that John was a heaven-sent messenger or witness
(of which fact his baptism was propounded as a test, since it was a
religious ordinance introduced on his authority), then John had already
answered the Sanhedrin that Jesus derived his authority from his
Messiahship, and hence, all that the Sanhedrin had to do was to satisfy
their minds was simply to "believe" John. But if, on the other
hand, the Pharisees rejected John's pretensions and claims as a heaven-sent
messenger in the face of the almost universal popular conviction, then what
was there for Jesus to present his claims to so blind, 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
10:40-42). The Sanhedrin could not admit that 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
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 consultation
there was no effort either to ascertain or to speak the truth. The question
as to whether John really was or was not a prophet was in no sense the
subject of their investigation. They were merely deciding what 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 deny any
knowledge of the case. Men of such brazen dishonesty could not be dealt with
openly and fairly as could sincere seekers after truth. Their spoken lie
was, "We cannot tell", but their inward and true answer 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
readily the subtle minds of the Jewish people would justify Jesus in thus
declining to submit the question of his authority to judges who at that very
moment publicly confessed their inability to even hazard an opinion, much
less render a decision, as to the authority of John the Baptist, who claims
were in popular estimation so obvious. It was plain that however well these
men might judge human credentials, the divine testimonials of a prophet or
of the Messiah were above their carnal sphere. Thus Jesus put his enemies to
confusion in the first of man conflicts of that perilous Tuesday. But we may
well imagine that they were rendered more bitter by the evidence of a wisdom
so much beyond any which they possessed.