We are now come to the Passion-Week, the week in which Christ died, and
the great occurrences of that week.
I. Christ's riding in triumph into Jerusalem,
II. His cursing the barren fig-tree,
III. His driving those out of the temple that turned it into an
IV. His discourse with his disciples concerning the power of faith and
the efficacy of prayer, on occasion of the withering of the fig-tree he
V. His reply to those who questioned his authority,
|Christ's Entrance into Jerusalem.
1 And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and
Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his
2 And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over
against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find
a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him.
3 And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the
Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither.
4 And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door
without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him.
5 And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do
ye, loosing the colt?
6 And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded: and they
let them go.
7 And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments
on him; and he sat upon him.
8 And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut
down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way.
9 And they that went before, and they that followed, cried,
saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the
10 Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in
the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.
11 And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and
when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the
eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve.
We have here the story of the public entry Christ made into Jerusalem,
four or five days before his death. And he came into town thus
1. To show that he was not afraid of the power and malice of his
enemies in Jerusalem. He did not steal into the city incognito,
as one that durst not show his face; no, they needed not send spies to
search for him, he comes in with observation. This would be an
encouragement to his disciples that were timorous, and cowed at the
thought of their enemies' power and rage; let them see how bravely
their Master sets them all at defiance.
2. To show that he was not cast down or disquieted at the thoughts of
his approaching sufferings. He came, not only publicly, but cheerfully,
and with acclamations of joy. Though he was now but taking the field,
and girding on the harness, yet, being fully assured of a
complete victory, he thus triumphs as though he had put it off.
I. The outside of this triumph was very mean; he rode
upon an ass's colt, which being an ass, looked contemptible, and
made no figure; and, being but a colt, whereon never man sat, we
may suppose, was rough and untrimmed, and not only so, but rude and
ungovernable, and would disturb and disgrace the solemnity. This
colt was borrowed too. Christ went upon the water in a
borrowed boat, ate the passover in a borrowed chamber,
was buried in a borrowed sepulchre, and here rode on a
borrowed ass. Let not Christians scorn to be beholden one to
another, and, when need is, to go a borrowing, for our Master did not.
He had no rich trappings; they threw their clothes upon the colt, and
so he sat upon him,
The persons that attended, were mean people; and all the show they
could make, was, by spreading their garments in the way
as they used to do at the feast of tabernacles. All these were marks of
his humiliation; even when he would be taken notice of, he would be
taken notice of for his meanness; and they are instructions to us, not
to mind high things, but to condescend to them of low
estate. How ill doth it become Christians to take state,
when Christ was so far from affecting it!
II. The inside of this triumph was very great; not only
as it was the fulfilling of the scripture (which is not taken notice of
here, as it as in Matthew), but as there were several rays of Christ's
glory shining forth in the midst of all this meanness.
1. Christ showed his knowledge of things distant, and his power over
the wills of men, when he sent his disciples for the colt,
By this it appears that he can do every thing, and no thought
can be withholden from him.
2. He showed his dominion over the creatures in riding on a
colt that was never backed. The subjection of the inferior part of
the creation to man is spoken of with application to Christ
for to him it is owing, and to his mediation, that we have any
remaining benefit by the grant God made to man, of a sovereignty in
this lower world,
And perhaps Christ, in riding the ass's colt, would give a shadow of
his power over the spirit of man, who is born as the wild ass's
3. The colt was brought from a place where two ways met
as if Christ would show that he came to direct those into the right
way, who had two ways before them, and were in danger of taking
4. Christ received the joyful hosannas of the people; that is,
both the welcome they gave him and their good wishes to
the prosperity of his kingdom,
It was God that put it into the hearts of these people to cry
Hosanna, who were not by art and management brought to it, as
those were who afterward cried, Crucify, crucify. Christ reckons
himself honoured by the faith and praises of the multitude, and it is
God that brings people to do him this honour beyond their own
(1.) They welcomed his person
Blessed is he that cometh, the ho erchomenos,
he that should come, so often promised, so long expected; he
comes in the name of the Lord, as God's Ambassador to the world;
Blessed be he: let him have our applauses, and best affections;
he is a blessed Saviour, and brings blessings to us, and blessed
be he that sent him. Let him be blessed in the name of the Lord,
and let all nations and ages call him Blessed, and think and
speak highly and honourably of him.
(2.) They wished well to his intent,
They believed that, mean a figure as he made, he had a kingdom,
which should shortly be set up in the world, that it was the kingdom of
their father David (that father of his country), the kingdom
promised to him and his seed for ever; a kingdom that came in the
name of the Lord, supported by a divine authority. Blessed be
this kingdom; let it take place, let it get ground, let it come in
the power of it, and let all opposing rule, principality, and power, be
put down; let it go on conquering, and to conquer.
Hosanna to this kingdom; prosperity be to it; all happiness
attend it. The proper signification of hosanna is that which we
Salvation to our God, that sitteth on the throne, and to the
Lamb; success to religion, both natural and revealed,
Hosanna in the highest. Praises be to our God, who is in the
highest heavens over all, God blessed for ever; or, Let him be
praised by his angels, that are in the highest heavens, let our
hosannas be an echo to theirs.
Christ, thus attended, thus applauded, came into the
city, and went directly to the temple. Here was no banquet of
wine prepared for his entertainment, nor the least refreshment; but he
immediately applied himself to his work, for that was his meat
and drink. He went to the temple, that the scripture
might be fulfilled; "The Lord whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to
his temple, without sending any immediate notice before him; he
shall surprise you with a day of visitation, for he shall be
like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap,"
He came to the temple, and took a view of the present state of it,
He looked round about upon all things, but as yet said nothing.
He saw many disorders there, but kept silence,
Though he intended to suppress them, he would not go about the doing of
it all on a sudden, lest he should seem to have done it
rashly; he let things be as they were for this night, intending
the next morning to apply himself to the necessary reformation, and to
take the day before him. We may be confident that God sees all the
wickedness that is in the world, though he do not presently reckon for
it, nor cast it out. Christ, having make his remarks upon what he saw
in the temple, retired in the evening to a friend's house at Bethany,
because there he would be more out of the noise of the town, and out of
the way of being suspected, a designing to head a faction.
|The Barren Fig-Tree Cursed.
12 And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was
13 And seeing a fig tree afar off having 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.
14 And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of
thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.
15 And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple,
and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple,
and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of
them that sold doves;
16 And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel
through the temple.
17 And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house
shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have
made it a den of thieves.
18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how
they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the
people was astonished at his doctrine.
19 And when even was come, he went out of the city.
20 And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree
dried up from the roots.
21 And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master,
behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.
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, and be thou cast into the sea;
and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those
things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have
whatsoever he saith.
24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when
ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have
25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against
any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you
26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is
in heaven forgive your trespasses.
I. Christ's cursing the fruitless fig-tree. He had a convenient
resting-place at Bethany, and therefore thither he went at
resting-time; but his work lay at Jerusalem, and thither therefore he
returned in the morning, at working-time; and so intent was he upon his
work, that he went out from Bethany without breakfast, which, before he
was gone far, he found the want of, and was hungry
for he was subject to all the sinless infirmities of our nature.
Finding himself in want of food, he went to a fig-tree, which he
saw at some distance, and which being well adorned with green
leaves he hoped to find enriched with some sort of fruit. But he
found nothing but leaves; he hoped to find some fruit,
for though the time of gathering in figs was near,
it was not yet; so that it could not be pretended that it had
had fruit, but that it was gathered and gone; for the season had not
yet arrived. Or, He found none, for indeed it was not a season of
figs, it was no good fig-year. But this was worse than any
fig-tree, for there was not so much as one fig to be found upon it,
though it was so full of leaves. However, Christ was willing to make an
example of it, not to the trees, but to the men, of that
generation, and therefore cursed it with that curse which is the
reverse of the first blessing, Be fruitful; he said unto it,
Never let any man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever,
Sweetness and good fruit are, in Jotham's parable, the honour of
and its serviceableness therein to man, preferable to the preferment of
being promoted over the trees; now to be deprived of that, was a
grievous curse. This was intended to be a type and figure of the
doom passed upon the Jewish church, to which he came, seeking fruit,
but found none
and though it was not, according to the doom in the parable,
immediately cut down, yet, according to this in the history,
blindness and hardness befel them
so that they were from henceforth good for nothing. The
disciples heard what sentence Christ passed on this tree, and
took notice of it. Woes from Christ's mouth are to be observed and kept
in mind, as well as blessings.
II. His clearing the temple of the market-people that frequented it,
and of those that made it a thoroughfare. We do not find that Christ
met with food elsewhere, when he missed of it on the fig-tree; but the
zeal of God's house so ate him up, and made him forget himself, that he
came, hungry as he was, to Jerusalem, and went straight to the temple,
and began to reform those abuses which the day before he had marked
out; to show that when the Redeemer came to Zion, his errand was, to
turn away ungodliness from Jacob
and that he came not, as he was falsely accused, to destroy the
temple, but to purify and refine it, and reduce his church to its
1. He cast out the buyers and sellers, overthrew the tables
of the money-changers (and threw the money to the ground, the
fitter place for it), and threw down the seats of them that sold
doves. This he did as one having authority, as a Son in his own
house. The filth of the daughter of Zion is purged away, not by
might, nor by power, but by the spirit of judgment, and the spirit
of burning. And he did it without opposition; for what he did, was
manifested to be right and good, even in the consciences of those that
had connived at it, and countenanced it, because they got money by it.
Note, It may be some encouragement to zealous reformers, that
frequently the purging out of corruptions, and the correcting of
abuses, prove an easier piece of work than was apprehended. Prudent
attempts sometimes prove successful beyond expectation, and there are
not those lions found in the way, that were feared to be.
2. He would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel, any
sort of goods or wares, through the temple, or any of the courts
of it, because it was the nearer way, and would save them the labour of
The Jews owned that it was one of the instances of honour due to the
temple, not to make the mountain of the house, or the court of the
Gentiles, a road, or common passage, or to come into it with any
3. He gave a good reason for this; because it was written, My house
shall be called of all nations, The house of prayer,
So it is written,
It shall pass among all people under that character. It shall be the
house of prayer to all nations; it was so in the first institution
of it; when Solomon dedicated it, it was with an eye to the sons of the
1 Kings 8:41.
And it was prophesied that it should be yet more so. Christ will have
the temple, as a type of the gospel-church, to be,
(1.) A house of prayer. After he had turned out the oxen and
doves, which were things for sacrifice, he revived the appointment of
it as a house of prayer, to teach us that when all sacrifices
and offerings should be abolished, the spiritual sacrifices of prayer
and praise should continue and remain for ever.
(2.) That it should be so to all nations, and not to the people
of the Jews only; for whosoever shall call upon the name of the
Lord, shall be saved, though not of the seed of Jacob, according to
the flesh. It was therefore insufferable for them to make it a den
of thieves, which would prejudice those nations against it, whom
they should have invited to it. When Christ drove out the buyers and
sellers at the beginning of his ministry, he only charged them with
making the temple a house of merchandise
but now he chargeth them with making it a den of thieves,
because since then they had twice gone about to stone him in the temple
or because the traders there were grown notorious for cheating their
customers, and imposing upon the ignorance and necessity of the country
people, which is no better than downright thievery. Those that suffer
vain worldly thoughts to lodge within them when they are at their
devotions, turn the house of prayer into a house of
merchandise; but they that make long prayers for pretence to devour
widows' houses, turn it into a den of thieves.
4. The scribes and the chief priests were extremely nettled at this,
They hated him, and hated to be reformed by him; and yet they feared
him, lest he should next overthrow their seats, and expel
them, being conscious to themselves of the profaning and abusing
of their power. They found that he had a great interest, that all
the people were astonished at his doctrine, and that every thing he
said, was an oracle and a law to them; and what durst he not
attempt, what could he not effect, being thus supported? They
therefore sought, not how he might make their peace with him, but
how they might destroy him. A desperate attempt, and which, one
would think, they themselves could not but fear was fighting against
God. But they care not what they do, to support their own power and
III. His discourse with his disciples, upon occasion of the fig-tree's
withering away which he had cursed. At even, as usual, he
went out of the city
to Bethany; but it is probable that it was in the dark, so that they
could not see the fig-tree; but the next morning, as they passed
by, they observed the fig-tree dried up from the roots,
More is included many times in Christ's curses than is
expressed, as appears by the effects of them. The curse was no
more than that it should never bear fruit again, but the effect goes
further, it is dried up from the roots. If it bear no fruit, it
shall bear no leaves to cheat people. Now observe,
1. How the disciples were affected with it. Peter remembered Christ's
words, and said, with surprise, Master, behold, the fig-tree which
thou cursedst is withered away,
Note, Christ's curses have wonderful effects, and make those to wither
presently, that flourished like the green bay-tree. Those whom he
curseth are cursed indeed. This represented the character and state
of the Jewish church; which, from henceforward, was a tree dried up
from the roots; no longer fit for food, but for fuel only. The first
establishment of the Levitical priesthood was ratified and confirmed by
the miracle of a dry rod, which in one night budded, and
blossomed, and brought forth almonds
a happy omen of the fruitlessness and flourishing of that priesthood.
And now, by a contrary miracle, the expiration of that priesthood was
signified by a flourishing tree dried up in a night; the just
punishment of those priests that had abused it. And this seemed very
strange to the disciples, and scarcely credible, that the Jews, who had
been so long God's own, his only professing people in the world, should
be thus abandoned; they could not imagine how that fig-tree
should so soon wither away: but this comes of rejecting Christ,
and being rejected by him.
2. The good instructions Christ gave them from it; for of those
even this withered tree was fruitful.
(1.) Christ teacheth them from hence to pray in faith
Have faith in God. They admired the power of Christ's word of
command; "Why," said Christ, "a lively active faith would put as great
a power into your prayers,
Whosoever shall say to this mountain, this mount of Olives,
Be removed, and be cast into the sea; if he has but any word of
God, general or particular, to build his faith upon, and if he shall
not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he
saith, according to the warrant he has from what God hath said,
shall come to pass, he shall have whatsoever he saith." Through
the strength and power of God in Christ, the greatest difficulty shall
be got over, and the thing shall be effected. And therefore
"What things soever ye desire, when ye pray believe that ye
shall receive them; nay, believe that ye do receive them,
and he that has power to give them, saith, Ye shall have them. I say
unto you, Ye shall,
Verily I say unto you, Ye shall,"
Now this is to be applied,
[1.] To that faith of miracles which the apostles and first
preachers of the gospel were endued with, which did wonders in
things natural, healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out
devils; these were, in effect, the removing of mountains. The apostles
speak of a faith which would do that, and yet might be found where holy
love was not,
1 Corinthians 13:2.
[2.] It may be applied to that miracle of faith, which all true
Christians are endued with, which doeth wonders in things
spiritual. It justifies us
and so removes the mountains of guilt, and casts them into the
depths of the sea, never to rise up in judgment against us,
It purifies the heart
and so removes mountains of corruption, and makes them plains
before the grace of God,
It is by faith that the world is conquered, Satan's fiery darts are
quenched, a soul is crucified with Christ, and yet lives; by faith we
set the Lord always before us, and see him that is invisible, and have
him present to our minds; and this is effectual to remove mountains,
for at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob,
the mountains were not only moved, but removed,
(2.) To this is added here that necessary qualification of the
prevailing prayer, that we freely forgive those who have been any way
injurious to us, and be in charity with all men
When ye stand praying, forgive. Note, Standing is no improper
posture for prayer; it was generally used among the Jews; hence they
called their prayers, their standings; when they would say how
the world was kept up by prayer, they expressed it thus,
Stationibus stat mundus--The world is held up by standings. But
the primitive Christians generally used more humble and reverent
gesture of kneeling, especially on fast days, though not on Lord's
days. When we are at prayer, we must remember to pray for others,
particularly for our enemies, and those that have wronged us; now we
cannot pray sincerely that God would do them good, if we bear malice to
them, and wish them ill. If we have injured others before we pray, we
must go and be reconciled to them;
But if they have injured us, we go a nearer way to work, and must
immediately from our hearts forgive them.
[1.] Because this is a good step towards obtaining the
pardon of our own sins: Forgive, that your Father may
forgive you; that is, "that he may be qualified to receive
forgiveness, that he may forgive you without injury to his honour, as
it would be, if he should suffer those to have such benefit by his
mercy, as are so far from being conformable to the pattern of it."
[2.] Because the want of this is a certain bar to the obtaining of the
pardon of our sins; "If ye do not forgive those who have injured
you, if he hate their persons, bear them a grudge, meditate revenge,
and take all occasion to speak ill of them, neither will your Father
forgive your trespasses." This ought to be remembered in prayer,
because one great errand we have to the throne of grace, is, to pray
for the pardon of our sins: and care about it ought to be our daily
care, because prayer is a part of our daily work. Our Saviour often
insists on this, for it was his great design to engage his disciples to
love one another.
|The Pharisees Nonplussed.
27 And they come again to Jerusalem: and as he was walking in
the temple, there come to him the chief priests, and the scribes,
and the elders,
28 And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things?
and who gave thee this authority to do these things?
29 And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of
you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what
authority I do these things.
30 The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer
31 And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say,
From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him?
32 But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people: for all
men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed.
33 And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell. And
Jesus answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what
authority I do these things.
We have here Christ examined by the great Sanhedrim concerning his
authority; for they claimed a power to call prophets to an account
concerning their mission. They came to him when he was walking in
the temple, not for his diversion, but teaching the people,
first one company and then another. The Peripatetic philosophers were
so called from the custom they had of walking when they taught.
The cloisters, or piazzas, in the courts of the temple, were fitted for
this purpose. The great men were vexed to see him followed and heard
with attention, and therefore came to him with some solemnity,
and did as it were arraign him at the bar with this question, By
what authority doest thou these things?
I. How they designed hereby to run him aground, and embarrass him. If
they could make it out before the people, that he had not a legal
mission, that he was not duly ordained, though he was ever
so well qualified, and preached ever so profitably and well, they would
tell the people that they ought not to hear him. This they made
the last refuge of an obstinate unbelief; because they were resolved
not to receive his doctrine, they were resolved to find some flaw or
other in his commission, and will conclude it invalid, if it be not
produced and ratified in their court. Thus the Papists resolve their
controversy with us very much into the mission of our ministers, and if
they have but any pretence to overthrow that, they think they have
gained their point, though we have the scripture ever so much on our
side. But this is indeed a question, which all that act either as
magistrates or ministers, ought to be furnished with a good answer to,
and often put to themselves, By what authority do I these
things? For how can men preach except they be sent? Or how
can they act with comfort, or confidence, or hope of success, except
they be authorized?
II. How he effectually ran them aground, and embarrassed them, with
this question, "What are your thoughts concerning the baptism of
John? Was it from heaven, or of men? By what authority did
John preach, and baptize, and gather disciples? Answer me,
Deal fairly and ingenuously, and give a categorical answer, one way or
the other." By this resolve of their question into this,
our Saviour intimates how near akin his doctrine and baptism were to
John's; they had the same original, and the same design and
tendency--to introduce the gospel kingdom. Christ might with the better
grace put this question to them, because they had sent a
committee of their own house to examine John,
"Now," saith Christ, "what was the result of your enquiries concerning
They knew what they thought of this question; they could not but
think that John Baptist was a man sent of God. But the
difficulty was, what they should say to it now. Men that oblige
not themselves to speak as they think (which is a certain rule)
cannot avoid perplexing themselves thus.
1. If they own the baptism of John to be from heaven, as really
it was, they shame themselves; for Christ will presently turn it
upon them, Why did ye not then believe him, and receive his
baptism? They could not bear that Christ should say this, but they
could bear it that their own consciences should say so, because they
had an art of stifling and silencing them, and because what conscience
said, though it might gall and grate them a little, would not shame
them; and then they would do well enough, who looked no
further than Saul's care, when he was convicted, Honour me now
before this people,
1 Samuel 15:30.
2. If they say, "It is of men, he was not sent of God, but his
doctrine and baptism were inventions of his own," they expose
themselves, the people will be ready to do them a mischief, or a
least clamour upon them; for all men counted John that he was a
prophet indeed, and therefore they could not bear that he should be
reflected on. Note, There is a carnal slavish fear, which not only
wicked subjects but wicked rulers likewise are liable to, which God
makes use of as a means to keep the world in some order, and to
suppress violence, that it shall not always grow up into a
rod of wickedness. Now by this dilemma to which Christ brought
(1.) They were confounded and baffled, and forced to make a
dishonourable retreat; to pretend ignorance--We cannot tell (and
that was mortification enough to those proud men), but really to
discover the greatest malice and wilfulness. What Christ did by his
wisdom, we must labour to do by our well doing--put to silence the
ignorance of foolish men,
1 Peter 2:15.
(2.) Christ came off with honour, and justified himself in refusing to
give them an answer to their imperious demand; Neither tell I you by
what authority I do these things. They did not deserve to be told;
for it was plain that they contended not for truth, but victory; nor
did he need to tell them, for the works which he did,
told them plainly that he had authority from God to do what he did;
since no man could do those miracles which he did unless God were with
him. Let them wait but three or four days, and his resurrection shall
tell them who gave him his authority, for by that he will be
declared to be the Son of God with power, as by their rejecting
of him, notwithstanding, they will be declared to be the enemies of