Mar 11: "The crowds are gathering in Jerusalem for the time of
Passover. There is a triumphant entry into Jerusalem, as the Lord Jesus
approached for the last time. For a moment the people responded, realising to
some extent the significance of this prophet of Nazareth, until the leaders of
the Ecclesia turned them against him. The record reveals: (1) Triumphal entry
into Jerusalem: vv 1-10. (2) In Jerusalem: v 11. (3) The barren fig tree: vv
12-14. (4) Second cleansing of the temple: vv 15-17. (5) Murderous hatred of the
priests: v 18. (6) Lesson of the withered fig tree: vv 20-26. (7) Jesus'
authority questioned: vv 27-33.
"The solitary fig tree by the wayside, evidently upon an
eminence, for it was seen 'afar off.' It represented the very nation that was
typified by the fig throughout its history. The tree was precocious, having
leaves but no fruit. It should have contained fruit throughout the year. Its
ostentatious show of leaves was like the fig leaf covering of Adam and Eve. It
was a graphic illustration of Israel, and Christ's parables" (GEM).
BETHPHAGE: "House of figs", natural Israel.
BETHANY: "House of dates", spiritual Israel. Upright
palms of the Gentiles. The home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.
AT THE MOUNT OF OLIVES: "On that day his feet will
stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem" (Zec 14:4).
COLT: Colt of an ass, humble -- used by kings rather
than the horse. Peaceful burden-bearer.
WHICH NO ONE HAS EVER RIDDEN: "No man can serve two
masters." Uniqueness, separateness. Cp the tomb of Jesus: "in which no one had
ever been laid" (John 19:41).
TIED AT A DOORWAY: "Door" = Christ in Joh
IN THE STREET: "In a place where two ways met" (AV).
"Met", not "parted": (1) Jews and Gentiles, or (2) Two natures of Jesus, human
This is the story of our lives. We constantly find ourselves
at the point where two ways meet -- and a decision must be made as to which way
we will go.
"An unusual sympathy between rider and mount for an unbroken
colt to walk quietly in the midst of a shouting crowd" (SMk 152). Also, a
suggestion that Jesus was not a very large man?
THREW THEIR CLOAKS OVER IT: Sig Christ the
burden-bearer (Mat 11:28-30).
Let us lay the garments of our glory in the dust at Jesus'
BRANCHES: Palm branches (Joh 12:13).
Psa 118:19-26: a familiar psa sung at Passover and Pentecost,
including: "open the gates... rejected stone... blessed is he that comes... bind
sacrifice to the horns of the altar..." (Quoted by Christ himself as applicable
to the Messiah: Mat 21:42.)
HOSANNA: "Save, pray", from Psa 118:25: "Save, now, we
beseech thee, O Lord."
Generally... "Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem! The LORD has
taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The LORD, the King of
Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm. On that day they will
say to Jerusalem, 'Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The
LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in
you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.'
The sorrows for the appointed feasts I will remove from you; they are a burden
and a reproach to you" (Zep 3:14-18).
"This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!"
HE LOOKED AROUND AT EVERYTHING: The final survey, the
day of visitation.
HE WENT OUT TO BETHANY: The Glory departs: Eze 10:1,19;
11:23; Heb 13:3. Why? Because of the abominations inside. "Outside the camp"
SEASON: "Kairos" = harvest, or reaping, as in Mat
13:30; Gal 6:9. It was not harvest time for figs; but yet some early fruit
should have been there (Xd 121:336; LB 349). First-ripe figs are usually formed
before the leaves. Green figs are edible too. See Luk 13:7. Outward pretense,
show. As in Eden, rep a vain attempt to cover "nakedness".
"In some sheltered spot by the roadside a fig tree attracted
the attention of Jesus, as it must have drawn the wondering eyes of many
travellers on their way to the Passover. At that time of the year fig trees were
normally without either fruit or leaves. The sight suited his purpose well for
it presented him with the opportunity of giving a practical illustration of the
parable of the barren fig tree, and of completing a picture which had been left
in abeyance. The time of figs was not yet; they appeared before the leaves. Here
was a fig tree which made great boast of itself, challenging those who passed by
to behold from the richness of its foliage, the succulence of its fruit. Yet,
accepting the invitation, the hungry wayfarer was doomed to disappointment, for
in spite of its lofty pretensions this tree was no better than the other trees.
Its fault lay not so much in its barrenness as in its empty promises. No more
penetrating picture of Israel can be imaged than that afforded by this sheltered
tree with its abundance of green leaves stirring gently in the morning air. Nor
can we confine the picture to natural Israel. It must ever be a challenge to
Israel after the spirit also. The richness of the promise must be supported by
the abundance of the fruit" (MP 298).
MAY NO ONE EVER EAT FRUIT FROM YOU AGAIN: The cursing
of the priesthood of Israel: Leaves = healing (Rev 22:2), but the priests (and
Israel's other leaders) could not heal (Jer 6:14; 8:11,13,15,22; ct Mat
The purging of the leaven from the house of God (Exo 12:19).
"The action of the Lord in cleansing the temple is often quoted as an example of
righteous indignation. Yet in all the four records (Mat 21, Mar 11, Luk 19, Joh
2) it is nowhere stated that the Lord was angry. Certainly it was not righteous
indignation which drove back those soldiers, ordered to arrest him (Joh 7:46);
nor was it righteous indignation which made armed men retreat and fall to the
ground in Gethsemane (Joh 18:6). Was not the same power at work in the temple
incident? But even if we concede that the Lord might have been expressing
righteous indignation, what right have we unrighteous ones to claim that we can
also show righteous indignation? It is more likely that we are confusing
righteous indignation with wrathful feelings of revenge, personal provocation,
and wounded pride. Certainly the Lord never lost his temper. Every word and
action was under complete control" (Bilton, Xd 114:218).
The tables of moneychangers, overturned by Jesus, while the
coins fall on the floor (Mat 21:12; Luk 19:45; Joh 2:14). Cp this with Judas
throwing the 30 pieces of silver into the temple (Mat 27:5). Imagine the coins
clattering and clanking along the floor, while the priests scurried here and
there to gather up and hide the evidence. In both cases, this was money paid for
// Mat 21:12-16 / Luk 19:45: Here is the second temple
cleansing (cp Psa 69:9). The other sacrifices are driven away; Christ is soon to
become the one true sacrifice... and so "the zeal for your house has consumed
me" (as though he were an offering on the altar).
Traffic in oil and wine. There was also a shortcut through
temple courts for regular commerce.
A symbolic indication that the court of the Gentiles was
henceforth to be holy also (Gal 3:28). This scene took place in the court of the
Gentiles (LTJM 114). By using this area for moneychangers, the leaders had
forgotten their delegated role of witnessing to the Gentiles (Zec 9:8).
A HOUSE OF PRAYER: Cited from Isa 56:7. Not just a
house where prayer is offered -- which is true enough -- but also a "house" (a
spiritual house) built up by and consisting of prayers offered by many
individuals. With our prayers we "build" the "house" in which God
Many detractors of our Lord have pointed with glee to what on
the surface seems like a fit of petty anger on Christ's part, spawned by His
selfish appetite. In reality, it was probably unrealistic to expect figs at that
time of year, a fact which He must have known quite well. Perhaps the key to the
whole passage is in the fact that "his disciples heard it."
It may be seen that Christ was using the barren fig tree to
teach his disciples something they desperately needed to know. This might be
called a living parable. Our Lord had just come from his triumphal entry into
the city, having been proclaimed as King by the multitude (vv 7-11), knowing
their shallow adoration would soon turn into cries for his death. Leaving the
fig tree, he drove the money changers from the temple grounds, having recognized
that they were not only exploiting all the Jews who entered, but had taken over
the court of the Gentiles, using it as a shortcut through town (v 16) and a
place of business (v 15), thus denying the possibility of true worship to all,
both Jews and Gentiles. The fig tree was an object lesson on barrenness,
typifying the Jewish nation's condition in spite of their privileged heritage.
This type of hypocritical fruitlessness receives condemnation (vv 20,21),
exhibits a lack of faith (vv 24-26), and hinders our prayers (vv 24-26).
FROM THE ROOTS: Not gradually, ie with the uppermost
branches first, but rather suddenly, supernaturally, from roots
THE FIG TREE YOU CURSED HAS WITHERED: That is,
immediately, upon Christ's saying these words, its sap was dried up, it lost its
verdure; its leaves were shriveled and shrunk up, and dropped off, and the whole
was blasted. This tree was an emblem of the Jews: Christ being hungry, and very
desirous of the salvation of men, came first to them, from whom, on account of
their large profession of religion, and great pretensions to holiness, and the
many advantages they enjoyed, humanly speaking, much fruit of righteousness
might have been expected; but, alas! He found nothing but mere words, empty
boasts, an outward show of religion, an external profession, and a bare
performance of trifling ceremonies, and oral traditions; wherefore Christ
rejected them, and in a little time after, the Gospel, was taken away from them,
and their temple, city, and nation, entirely destroyed. Are we then, bringing
forth "fruits meet for repentance" in our lives, or will we suffer the same
de-creating blast that Christ afforded this sad fig tree nearly 2,000 years ago?
THIS MOUNTAIN: The mountain of Israel: cast out among
other nations. Or, more specifically, the Temple mountain (sym law), to be
removed in AD 70. Cp Mic 7:19 (sins cast into sea); Luk 17:6 (tree cast into
Here, I think, the "all things" needs to be limited to "all
things which are in accordance with the will of the Father", or "all things
which are for your ultimate benefit". We are like little children; if we somehow
were given 'carte blanche' to have anything and everything WE want, then there
would be no end to the damage we could do to ourselves and others. We need to be
protected from ourselves. A loving Father would never give us the keys to the
"candy store", and then leave us alone to gorge ourselves.
But... "all things" which work together for our ultimate
salvation? Yes, of course, He will give us that. Consider Rom 8: "If God is for
us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for
us all -- how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us ALL THINGS?
Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who
justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died -- more than that,
who was raised to life-- is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for
us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or
persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword... No, in all these things
we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that
neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the
future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all
creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ
Jesus our Lord."
This passage puts the same point both positively and
negatively: firstly, God will give us "all things" that will help us, to the
utmost of His power, to attain to lasting faith, true forgiveness of sins, and a
place in His kingdom. And thus we are assured that "nothing" (not even death
itself, or terrible persecutions or trials) will keep us from the love of God in
Christ, and a place in that Kingdom.
Having said that, I might add -- yes, in fact, even the
greatest "mountain" will be moved, if we ask it. First of all, the asking ought
to be in keeping with the will of God. And secondly, Jesus didn't state
limitations as to TIME! One day, when Christ returns, the whole world will be
"torn down" and "rebuilt" in a new and glorious "creation", and every "mountain"
(all the kingdoms, creations, wealth, and power of sinful man) will be brought
low! It WILL happen. And we will be there to see it if we have faith as a grain
of mustard seed, and if we pray for that day to come.
I'm looking forward to seeing all the "mountains" moved (Rev
6:14)! Maybe I'll move a few myself... if Christ asks me to do so!
Is it possible that the greatest "mountain" is (and was) the
"great stone" which sealed shut the tomb of Jesus (Mat 28:2-4; Mar 16:4; Luk
24:2; Joh 20:1)? And this mountain has already been moved!
BELIEVE THAT YOU HAVE RECEIVED IT: Past tense, not
present tense (as in AV): "Believe that God has blessed you in times past, and
-- because of your faith -- He will bless you again." Cp Deu 7:17,18; 1Sa
17:37; Psa 22:4; 34:6,7; 2Co 1:9-11.
FORGIVE HIM: "The fate of the barren fig tree is no
excuse for a life in which the blasting of such trees becomes one's obsession"
ANYTHING... ANYONE: Notice the widest poss
Christ was policing the Temple. A follow-up on the cleansing
of the Temple (Mat 21:12-17; Mar 11:15-19; Luk 19:45-48).
BY WHAT AUTHORITY: Three years before, Nicodemus had
come as a delegate of the Sanhedrin. What had they done with his report? (Christ
was not a Levite, a priest, nor in any way accredited by some rabbi. Wandering
"holy men" were allowed to speak freely -- but not with voice of authority, in
Three years eariler, Nicodemus had come to Jesus as a delegate
of Sanhedrin. What had they done with his report?
Of course, this WAS his answer: Jesus was accredited by John
the Baptist. If they had tested John's claim (Deu 18:21,22), they would have
been prepared to accept Jesus.
NEITHER WILL I TELL YOU...: The evidence was already
there. Their reasoning and understanding was based on flesh and on their own
personal preferences -- regardless of truth. They openly denied obvious truth:
"By Beelzebub" (Mar 3:22,23,28).
Notice: they answer, "We don't know" -- which really means,
"We won't tell you." Thus Jesus reciprocates in his answer: not "I don't know",
but instead, "Neither will I tell you!"