The Fourfold Gospel
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 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, it
would 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 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 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 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 23:40; Revelation 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 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 of
Jerusalem; it is evident, therefore, that the apostles who were
approaching the city with Jesus had nothing to do with inciting this
- 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
- 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 11:9,10; Matthew 21:9; Luke 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 3:14,15.
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 they
were calling upon heaven to participate in glorifying and to ratify
their 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 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 (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 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 21:18,19,12,13; 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 activity
that did not have time to tarry at Bethany for it. Our Lord's hunger
implies 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 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 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 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 12:29; Luke 17:31. The Septuagint uses it as equivalent to "weapons
of 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 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 21:20-22; Mark 11:19-25; Luke 21:37,38
- 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 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 desire (James 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.)
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 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 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 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
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 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 they
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 1:7,15,34; John 3:26-36; 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 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 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.