Mark 11

The whole scene, as regarded presenting Himself as the Object of their faith, was really now closed, and the Lord was now to present Himself in the claim of His royal character, and judicial Lordship in the Temple, and to have them all before Him, and to judge them in this capacity. His presenting Himself as a gracious witness was now closed, and He acts on the claim, and makes it good in the need of this manifestation, as before His willing subjection, though He could command all creation to meet the need, that subjection occasioned, of the didrachma. He sends two of His disciples, and takes the ass, " Whereon never man sat," for this royal and entitled Claimant of the throne of Israel to sit upon, " And if any say to you, Why do ye this? " They were to say simply: " The Lord hath need of it." " And straightway he would send it there." Thus knowing and ordering the distant heart, and manifesting how David's Lord had good claim to be David's Son, indeed to be received as such in the title of His own Person and glory, He who did these things by this divine power and ordering was claiming surely in grace, and in no needless untruth, the place of David's Son. All was already subject to Him, to whatever He might subject Himself. This was over several hearts, whoever they were, so that it was not merely knowledge of the owner, but control of their hearts; " and some of those who stood there."
The same divine power was controlling the hearts of the disciples, and the multitude, to give this testimony to the royalty of Jesus, and accomplish the words of the Prophet. " They put their garments upon it, and he sat on it." A new position of the lowly Jesus-yet lovely even in this. " And many strewed their garments on the way." " And they that preceded," inspired to sing the same testimony of Israel, cried saying, as in Psa. 118 as Israel shall say in that day: " Hosanna! Blessed be he that cometh in the Name of the Lord. Blessed be the coming kingdom of our father David." This was really the full language of waiting for the kingdom, and acknowledging the Person of Messiah, and looking up to the heavens as the source of it, saying: " Save now in the highest." Thus was the full testimony given to the Son of David, the Lord Jesus and the minds of the people, though in will to reject Him, overruled to honor Him with the fullest testimony to the claim in which He came for their own blessing. This must have been before He was rejected.
-8, 9. What glorious disposition of hearts! It was as Lord only He had anything here thus to dispose of.
-to. " The coming Kingdom." It is manifest that the Lord dispensatorily proposed Himself to the Jews, though He opposed their thoughts concerning it, declaring that a man must be born again before he could see it. To Pilate He clearly avowed His being so; to the Jews He avowed His Person, not His claim.
-II. How calm and full of heavenly dignity is the Lord's way now! Hated, despised, rejected, and soon to be treated with unresisted scorn and death. The terror of God is now upon them all; and He enters into the city thus in public and unhindered testimony to His Messiahship. His dignity from God, and indeed with the stamp of what was properly divine upon it-thus come, He enters into Jerusalem, and goes on in royal dignity. He enters into the temple. There is no hand raised, no tongue moves against Him; He, and He only is the great Object there. " And having looked round on all things, it being late, he went forth to Bethany " again " with the twelve." The full testimony was given. The judgment was to be as calm as the dignity was manifested. For as He displayed God, had displayed the royal dignity of Him who was rejected, so now they were to be judged. This entrance of the Lord was a blessed testimony to His rejected character, and the hand of God astoundingly displayed in it, placing Him in the judgment place of the nation. He had now surveyed it all. He had long walked in grace as the least, and the last, that He might carry the grace to all, that He might suit it to their need, and meet, and sympathize with all their ruin in blessed grace. Blessed Master! But as far as they were concerned, to their shame and loss, He had " labored in vain " and spent His " strength for naught," and in vain. And now, this having been exercised till they had rejected it fully, the more fully manifested it, yea, ascribed it to the enemy, though, that it might reach all, He after that still went on, now it was closed; and, in the dignity of His own Person and Messiahship, He was to call them up before Him in judgment. His way is clothed with unresisted and resistless divine dignity, in doing this. First, the weakness and darkness, and impotency of sin and malice shrink into their own place before the light of God beaming forth, that His death and suffering might be manifestly the willing exercise of His grace for them, not their power while divine control and influence emanated from Him, and ordered all for it. Yet, so properly divine was it that He never the least left the simplicity and humility of His character. It was divine testimony to Him such as He always was (out of the mouths of babes, and sucklings even, perfecting praise, to still the enemy and avenger) He came in, and went out in His usual meekness with the twelve, whatever surrounded Him. But what controlling dignity! The Lord guide us, and make us estimate Him, that Blessed One.
11. There are indicative circumstances in Mark, of the most striking character, as chapters 9: 15, 10: 32, and here in this verse. -
13. The Lord, in His righteous dispensation, justly looked for fruit. Yet, in the fixed order of His ordinances, " it was not the time of figs." The power of the Lord's coming, as dispensatorily proposed, but in the knowledge of God, suspended during the times of the Gentiles, is key to much of the prophecies. It is that which drew forth the admiration of Paul; as touching the Gospel they are enemies, as touching the election they are beloved.
The Lord returned to Bethany, and, on the morrow, going forth from Bethany, He hungered, for the Lord indeed was subject to all our infirmities-He took them-but so all this was ordered. So the Lord looks for food in that which He has created and planted. He has not created it for no delight to Himself, nor planted it to find no food nor fruit. But, alas! Jehovah could find no food but the offering. Yet, on the other hand, blessed is that, but He did in His own delight and love look for, that He might have complacency and delight in it- fruit in the place and vineyard of His planting. But, alas! when He looked close, how different! There was none; it had leaves, and looked fair at a distance, but had leaves only" The time of figs was not." The Lord pronounced final judgment upon it; no fruit was to grow on it forever. And so it was strictly with the Jewish people; as standing as they did under the old covenant, they were hopelessly condemned, they never will be recognized, nor bear fruit ever. The old covenant was not the time of fruit. When grace receives them under the new, Israel shall blossom, and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit, but on this, where it stood in the obedience of man, it never would. It had been indeed fully tried; the fact merely, however, here is pronounced. The application, the Lord's search for good, found no refreshment, or answer there. His answer was in righteous judgment-a judgment utterly fulfilled.
And they came to Jerusalem, and He enters then into the temple. Yesterday, the full survey of their condition, and the condition of His Father's, Jehovah's house, had been made, and to-day judgment is to be executed with all the authority, the condemning authority of Jehovah's King, bearing with none of this evil now. Long had grace been patient. He had retired to a distance, to give time for repentance. He being thus manifested (in the way with them) and after John's warnings, but now, this past, with all righteous authority and indignation, at headquarters, there was no more but to get rid of them. What authority in the righteousness of God! " He began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them that sold doves." This den of thieves! And in Jehovah's house! How free from idolatry! How full of sin! He would sanctify it. He suffered no man to pass through, to carry anything through the temple, making it just a passage for his convenience. He maintained the holiness of God's house, and while He maintained its holiness as Jehovah's house, not the mere convenience of Jewish pride, as Jehovah's house, His Father's house, it had all its wide claim and value in His eyes-a house of prayer for all nations. The holiness of God's house gives it its extension, because it makes it properly God's house, and His claim is over all, and it is a claim of grace. But, while the Lord does this, His judgment and charge on the Jewish people is distinct and conclusive: " Ye have made it a den of thieves." His word too is from Scripture, so that the truth and guilt was plain. It had the force of God's word to them. We have also to note that the title of God, and the moral charge always has its force in the subject it applies to; thus the passage of Isaiah has its accomplishment in the latter day, when the house shall be so as God's house. Yet the claim of God was at least from its utterance by the Prophet. Yet it was then, after all, judgment, when sin had made it impossible (for all tended to the blessed end when Christ shall be there)
and the charge was made in Jeremiah's time actually, but as it hung over their heads, so was it accomplished by their hands, and they are charged with it-they had done the thing, i.e., He puts it as a question: Did not their conduct amount to their considering it so? " Ye have made it a den of thieves." How plain, and bold, and unmoved in judgment is the Lord now, for He had taken the pronouncing of judgment in His own hand now. And the Lord applied the testimony of the Prophets now in judgment.
The Scribes and Pharisees hear it, only do what Satan does when he can do naught else-seek how he may destroy-for they were acting indeed his part now. They were afraid to act openly, but they sought to do it, or how they might, for they feared Him; the power of His word and ministry had swayed the multitude. They were astonished, if not converted, and, afraid of the effect of open action against Him as to their character before the people, they sought how. Thus Satan, by their love of importance and malice, had this thread of his train laid. All the awe and the power was with Him; no one still touched Him (and doubtless this an important seed for the apostle's future work) when it was late He went out of the city. Thus this day closed in the Lord's manifested but holy, royal judgment, and their desired treachery of secret destruction, showing itself as in their hearts, for they were afraid of doing anything open, for the Lord had, in patient testimony, and real moral power, the upper hand in the glory of righteousness. For the testimony now, and evidence of influence and power, produces not amendment or submission but, in their hopeless opposition, the desire to destroy Him, for they were really in the hands of Satan, as He the instrument of Jehovah's power and its wielder, though as yet it was only morally exhibited, or in human zeal and righteousness externally to them, so as still for responsibility, though in another way from the patient testimony of grace.
15. Their recovery was out of question, this was their judgment. What power of righteousness over evil! Still, " Is it not written? "
17. The remark may here be made that attention must be paid to the word " people " in the Scriptures, in order to our discernment of the mind of the Spirit in Scripture, as very often the word may represent things which are specially contrasted-the people (laos) and the Gentiles (ethnon).
Verses 33 and 34 of the preceding chapter are exceedingly strong as to that which concerned the rejection of Christ. " We go up to Jerusalem." There was the place of God's delight amongst men in blessing, in favor, in divine government on earth, the center of all connection of. God with man upon earth, and the Son of man, the great Center and Link of it; His presence, after the patient grace of which -we have spoken, was the test then of the condition of man and his whole estate. In Judas, man, left to his own way, was shown how, by lust and love of the world Satan had created in money, under the power of Satan in desperate and sad wickedness; looked at as left to himself, it had been good for him had he not been born. The companion and familiar friend of all the blessed manifestation of grace in Christ-his Introducer in holy familiarity into the house of God-he betrays Him, as the wretched, possessed instrument of Satan (yet by his own depraved lust) to the very priests of God, that they might disclose their state by delivering the King of Israel to the Gentiles; and they show their condition, and the condition of the world in their head exercising authority over God's King to reject Him under the title of Head of His own nation, and that at Jerusalem, " For it could not be that a prophet perish away from Jerusalem." But such is the picture exhibited in this statement of the Lord. For, though Christ came abstractedly as the Head of human nature, the Head and Crown of human blessing, yet it was not only blessing, but restorative blessing, if man had been capable of restoration. Thus the character of gracious interference, if man had not been hopeless as to condition, as well as sinful, for the close of all restorative process on responsibility came in in Christ. The law was the perfect direction of man on earth, now at sea through ignorance, and Christ of His pains in taking him up in this condition to remedy evil,, and crown the good according to it-made of a woman, the first point, i.e. as Man; made under the law, the second; but even the grace which did it was manifested externally in vain.
In the morning there was the witness of God's judgment of the fruitless fig tree. This was a solemn judgment, really on the Jewish fruitless stock. But as the Lord turned His washing the disciples' feet to a present practical purpose, besides the type, so here to a lesson of how to enter into the power of this:
Have faith in God." Such is the great secret-to draw all our thoughts up to Him, and to judge with Him, and act for, and solely from Him (through faith); and there in the accomplishment of His purpose in His power, for there, by its mysterious yet simple connection with the interests of Christ, and the purpose of God, faith introduces us. He does not say here: Faith in the Father, or, Faith in salvation by the Son; it is not of this He speaks properly, though this may be connected with the confidence, and leads in the way of faith, and, save interests with Christ, in understanding. Yet in exercise, it is simply " faith in God." The Holy Spirit, having set us in the ways of God, the place of separate service to Him, in the presence and midst of evil, relies on His intervention for the accomplishment of His own glory in Christ. And we see that this must be, we have faith in God, not in the stability of present things, not in the strength in which they stood before as impenetrable to the truth, but drawn up to God and centered in Him, separated to Him, acting, as it were, for Him and in His name, but in entire dependence, for this is always and specially in faith. It is the present dependence in the highest exercise of its power, the most so, yet therein does all, and for that reason. This faith is the working of the Spirit in us, in all the ways and purposes of God, but it shows itself in simple dependence, because it is the concentration of the soul upon Him.
Here was the simple exercise of faith: " Say to this mountain, Be lifted up, and cast into the sea, and doubt not in his heart, but believe that what he says is," it shall be to him. I believe, as I noticed I suppose in Matthew, that there is allusion to all the power and stability of the Jewish polity, even as then, the nation, not only the Remnant or moral state, whence fruit was looked. Note, when judgment against any further fruitbearing is pronounced, the tree withers; quod nota. But this accomplishment is whatever He says, but we must take it simply; anything tentative is not this; the question of false miracles does not here intervene. The next case supposes not the positive, active exercise of faith, but whatever they need, and are asking at God's hand which is now supposed. Then let them believe that they receive it, and it shall be to them. Next, when they are praying, they are under judgment to God in this nearness, if they forgive not. Their souls must be in the frame of the Spirit of Christ; it is not supplication in the Spirit else; clearly they cannot ask in grace with unforgiveness in their hearts-they are not in the way of efficacious request in the Spirit. How far from visiting evil for evil was Christ in His dealings with His rebellious and unhappy people! " Father, forgive them," was His word; His judgment therefore came with all the power of God. This was, on this head, the Lord's manner of putting His disciples in His place, in the exercise of faith in the power of God towards them, and the manner and spirit of it. God would be with them in everything. They had only to have faith in God. Man had been fully proved. They had to cast themselves entirely upon God, and they would find what God was-powerful, faithful, and answering them, as always for and with them, to vindicate His truth with them. It was in mercy forgiving, not man in righteousness of his own with Him. What occasion had the Lord to tell them all this- that faith in God was the only resource; man was no avail! But what perfectness at such a time to say this, when every circumstance was the most opposite to God's appearance in His favor that possibly could be! Now is the time when He assures them, ask what they would, having faith in God and it would be to them. How willingly did He offer Himself! How opposite to the witness of such certainty, were the circumstances! And yet really, how easily could He have had twelve legions of angels! But how then should the word be fulfilled?
Here, moreover, it was the faith of service, and position towards God, not the children asking of the Father. And faith in God, after all, only trusts in God's almighty power; but it implies His perfect interest in His children; but this is acted in the power of, not thought of as an object. His children, as such, do trust, not that they are children, but in Him.
They came again to Jerusalem, for this conversation was by the way, as to their portion as standing alone, as it were, as separated to God, as the fig-tree's withering had happened within the knowledge of the disciples only; and the Lord stands now before His unsubdued and unrelenting people, having been vindicated, with none of the awe of the previous day's circumstances, but in the simplicity of His own glory in humiliation, for His heart was never changed in it at all, with His disciples. The true and highest glory He receives, exhibits the testimony, and returns to His course of patient, but now judicial, and fast-closing service; His character still the same, its effect by His grace more terrible on its rejecters. He was walking about in the temple, subject to every question, and all their thoughts of Him humbled, whatever evidence He had given of power. The chief priests, scribes, and elders, recovered in a measure from their stupor on His entry into Jerusalem, question Him by what authority He does these things, still under a certain awe-the effect of what they had seen, and respecting Him more from the manifest influence on the people. Who gave Him this authority? But the Lord now no longer answers inquiries, not the desire of faith to learn, but the self judging question that they knew not, owned not Him, after all, whom God and, for the moment, man also owned. It was the restless effort to get rid of the pressure of facts on their own conscience, but indeed divinely ordered to their judgment. The Lord's answer no longer, as we said, explaining what was onward in mercy, throws them back upon the first testimony connected with His Person, judging them in the first onset before their conscience was hardened; yet therein their judgment now more terrible. " The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? " Answer this! It was throwing them on what was plain to their consciences as a test, what all the people, unprejudiced by interest, to whom they leaned for influence, believed, even if not receiving Christ. A terrible, but divinely profound question! Yet so simple! Own this, they owned Christ; disown it, they condemned themselves before all, for indeed He was now the Judge. How terrible is the spiritual discernment of righteousness to plain points of conscience! And how it baffles human wisdom and plans! But what a wretched condition really were these rulers in! With all their importance and religious influence, obliged to deny the lowest testimony of God's truth, or condemn themselves; and avowing they did not believe on him whom they were afraid to deny, and afraid to deny him whose testimony plainly condemned themselves, so that their answer brought them into still lower degradation morally really, and to save their position, confessedly in ignorance, and incompetency to determine on the alleged pretensions of religious teachers. But really it was, on the face of it, hypocrisy. It was a perpetual silencer on all their religious pretensions; they were judged, not judges now. There was divine wisdom in the inquiry, for it put the Jews first, and owned ministry presented as a test of their competency to judge, or honesty in owning; their consciences, and state were all judged by it. Thus the three classes of rulers, priestly, governing, and teaching, stood all incompetent, rejected, and, as mere individuals, not able to discern and receive the testimony of God which all the people even acknowledged. They were judged, completely judged. The Lord declined replying to such, or submitting His authority to them. He was there—left them to their own course, and they stood incompetent and self-condemned. Then the Lord began to teach them in judgment.
I believe this also had typical reference and accomplishment, though that be not all; but a great truth is in it besides.
But there it is as walking in the power of the kingdom. The Spirit distributes to every man, severally, as He will. Yet this word is true; yet must we wait on the Lord's mind, and so the believer will.
- 28. This was a humiliating question to themselves, for He did and had done the things blessedly, and they could not help it.
- 31-33. There is a deeper hardness of men than we are aware of.