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Barren Fig-Tree. Temple Cleansed.

(Road from Bethany and Jerusalem. Monday, April 4, a.d. 30.)

A Matt. XXI. 18, 19, 12, 13; B Mark XI. 12–18; C Luke XIX. 45–48.

b 12 And a 18 Now b on the morrow [on the Monday following the triumphal entry], a in the morning b when they were come out from Bethany, a as he returned to the city [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 disciples also.] 19 And seeing a fig tree by the way side, b afar off having leaves, a he came to it, b if haply he might find anything thereon: and when he came to it, 581he a found nothing but leaves only; b for it was not the season of figs. [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 Beyrut, 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 leaves come. 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.] 14 And he answered and said { a saith} unto it, Let there be no fruit from thee henceforward for ever. b No man eat fruit of thee henceforward for ever. And his disciples heard it. a And immediately the fig tree withered away. [The disciples did not pause to watch the effect of Christ's words upon the tree. But from the degree to which it had shriveled when they saw it next day it became evident to them that it had begun to wither as soon as Christ had finished uttering its sentence. 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 xiii. 6–9). But we must not too confidently make such an application of the parable since Jesus himself gave 582no hint that he intended us so to apply it.] b 15 And they come to Jerusalem: and he entered into the temple, and began to cast out a all them that sold b and them that bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold the doves [three years before, Jesus had thus cleansed the temple at the first passover of his ministry, for an account of which see pp. 121–125]; 16 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 Matt. xii. 29 and Luke xvii. 31. The LXX. uses it as equivalent to “instruments of war” at Deut. i. 41, and to “vestments” at Deut. xxii. 5.] 17 And he taught, and said { a saith} c 46 Saying unto them, It is written [the prophecy cited is a combination of Isa. lvi. 7 and Jer. vii. 11], { b Is it not written,} c And my house shall be { b shall be called} a house of prayer for all the nations? but ye have made { a ye make} 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.] b 18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, c 47 And he was teaching daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people sought to destroy him: 48 and they could not find what they might do; for the people all hung upon him, listening b for all the people was astonished at his teaching. [Overawed by the magnitude 583of 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.]

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