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13 And said unto them, It is written, e My house shall be called the house of prayer, ' but ye have made it a den of thieves.
14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple ; and he healed them.
15 And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple,
e Isaiah lvi. 7. f Jer. vii. 11 ; Mark xi.17; Luke xix. 46.
of the Gentiles that frankincence, oil, This is quoted from Isaiah lvi. 7, “For wine, doves, lambs, and oxen were sold, mint house shall he called a house of after the victims had been examined and prayer for all people.” In referring to approved by the priests.
this prophecy our Lord not only reproves Money changers.—The kodlußlotai were the profanity and wicked avarice which persons who exchanged foreign for the had made the house of prayer a bazaar or current coin of Judea, or the contrary, to market-house, but the contempt poured meet the convenience of those who came upon the pious Gentiles, or heathen proup to the feasts from distant countries. selytes, who had a right to worship there, Hence they had their tables in this court, and whose court they had invaded so as and, as the passover was now at hand, not only to occupy it with stalls for catwould be in the height of their unhallow tle, seats for them that sold doves, and ed business, which ought to have been the tables of money-changers, but as to transacted in a less sacred place.
fill it with distracting noise and confuThem that sold doves.- Which, being sion, wholly subversive of its original and the offerings of the poor, would at so gracious intention. Instead of a place for great a feast as that of the passover be in offering up prayer by the pious “stranconsiderable demand, from the concourse ger,” whom God had promised to make of those who reserved their offerings to “joyful in his house of prayer," they hod this season. The practice of making the made it a den of thieves ; an expression courts of the temple a place of traffic was used probably in allusion to the rocky probably introduced from the Greeks and caves or dens in the mountainous parts of Romans. It was evidently regarded by Judea, which were often the receptacles of our Lord as a great abuse, under what- robbers. Something of miraculous power ever pretence of affording facility to the must have attended this act of our Lord, performance of the appointed services of to overawe the numerous and bold intrudthe temple it might be defended. The ers into the court of the temple, and noise would disturb the more serious especially as he overthrew their tables worshippers ; and various cheats and im- and seats. Yet there was nothing in this positions were practised, as we may ga- act but what was consistent with the ther from our Lord charging them with views which the Jews entertained of the having made his house “a den of thieves.” Messiah, who, as they believed, would It would seem remarkable that this pro reform many abuses, and bring in many fanation was suffered by the priests, who new laws, with great authority. Hence, were so scrupulous and exact in whatever when on a former occasion he vindicated appertained to the honour of their tem- the honour of God's house, his disciples ple; but there has been, in all ages, were reminded of the prophetic words, great inconsistency among ceremonious “The zeal of thine house hath eaten me formalists, and superstition and irre- up." verence are often found together.
Verse 15. The wonderful things that he Verse 13. It is written, My house, &c.— did.-Not referring so much to his heal. and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David ; they were sore displeased,
16 And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, s Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise ?
g Psalm viii. 2.
ing the blind and the lame in the temple, tion, by him who was made “a little,” or for they could scarcely adapt their ques- for a little while, “lower than the antion, “By what authority doest thou gels,” and then “ crowned with glory and these things ?” to the working such honour,” having all things "put under cures; but what they wondered at was his feet.” This the apostle Paul applies his public entry; his allowing the people directly to Christ, and includes in it the to acclaim their hosannas to him as the wonderful exaltation of fallen human Messiah ; his acting in the temple as nature in him. The Psalm is thus introthough it were his own house, which his duced, “ O Lord, our Lord, how excellent words implied ; and his expelling the is thy name in all the earth ; who hast set traders with severity and authority. To thy glory above the heavens.” But who this was added a scene which especially acknowledges this glory of God in human appears to have excited their malignant redemption ? Not the "enemies” menenvy: the very children, allured probably tioned in the next verse, but the “babes by his mild dignity, or rather under the and sucklings” “out of whose mouth” special influence of God, to make them God is said to have ordained “ strength, witnesses of the truth, and thus to accom- because of his enemies, and to still the plish a prophecy, were surrounding him enemy and the avenger." Now, since in the temple, and crying, “Hosanna to this strength was ordained out of the the Son of David.” And they were sore mouth, it must be understood of the displeased, filled with indignation. strength of speech, strength of doctrine,
Verse 16. Out of the mouth of babes and and strength of praise; which most fitly sucklings, 8:c.—This is from Psalm viii. applies to the apostles and disciples of 2. The Hebrew is, “ Thou hast founded our Lord, who were, in the estimation of or constituted strength ;” but the evan- the world, weak and inefficient as babes gelist follows the Septuagint, thou hast and sucklings, and yet by their asserting perfected or ordained praise ; the sense the claims of Christ, and proclaiming his being equivalent. Their praises strongly praises, they silenced his most potent and irresistibly declared the majesty and enemies, making the glory of God in the fame of God. These words are not intro- redemption of mankind by his Son to fill duced with the usual formula, “Now this the civilized world, and to be almost uni. was done that it might be fulfilled,” or, versally acknowledged. Thus by these “ Thus was fulfilled,” and therefore we weak instruments were those mighty reare not obliged to consider them adduced sults accomplished, which brought so as a prophecy accomplished by the event; much glory to God, and so mightily conand the argument of Christ with the Pha. founded his “ enemies." Now of this the risees will be sufficiently conclusive with praises of the little children in the temple out regarding them in this light. Still, were a beautiful type: Christ was first even this passage is not an instance of publicly acknowledged and publicly accommodation, properly so called, which praised in his temple by children, and supposes no relation but that of a verbal that to the confusion of his enemies, who similarity to the subject illustrated. The were struck dumb themselves, but could Psalm from which they are taken cele- not silence them; and there is nothing brates the praises of God for our redemp- improbable in supposing that, as a fine
17 | And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany ; and he lodged there.
18 Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered.
19 - And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.
h Mark xi. 13.
emblem was thus exhibited of the manner because thou hast hid these things from in which the enemies of Christ would be the wise and prudent, and hast revealed "stilled” or silenced by that “strength” them unto babes." which God was about to ordain out of the Verse 17. And lodged there. Hvioon, he mouths of the apostles, so this emblema- passed the night, not in the village at the tical representation of a most interesting house of Lazarus, but probably sub dio, in truth and important fact was not the the open air, among the olive-trees with result of accident, but of the over-ruling which the district abounded; for it is providence of God. For that there was added, “ in the morning when he returned something remarkable in the case, appears to the city he was hungry," which he from the children not being mentioned as could scarcely he in coming so short a taking a part in the hosannas of the pro- distance as two miles from the house of cession on the way to and through Jeru. Lazarus, had he been entertained there. salem, but only in the temple, and that in Our blessed Lord chose this for the sake the very presence of “the enemies," the of solitude and prayer, knowing that chief priests and scribes ; and also that “ his hour” was approaching; and also then only their acclamations are men no doubt to avoid suspicion, that he was tioned, not those of any others. It would plotting by night with his followers and seem as if these children were collected the populace to seize the government. there and moved upon by a supernatural It was this circumstance, probably, which impulse to repeat the joyful songs and prevented the Roman governor from hosannas which had been sung by the taking any alarm. All that Christ did multitude in the streets and along the was in the day, and at night he departed way to Jerusalem. And if so, we may from the city. conclude that this singular event, ar. Verse 19. A fig tree in the way.-Luknu ranged by God, to be an emblem of one miay, one fig tree; so spoken of, either bemuch higher, even of that which should cause it stood alone, which is scarcely profully, and in the highest sense, accom- bable, as Bethphage, which lay in the plish the prophecy, was also referred to way, had its name from the abundance of in this prophetic Psalm itsell, and was in fig trees in its neighbourhood; or as one its degree a direct accomplishment of it. more branchy and verdant than the rest, It is no small confirmation of this view, and which therefore gave greater promise --that the children in the temple, publish- of fruit; and was on that account the ing the claims and honours of Christ, better emblem of the Jewish nation, to were emblems of the apostles and the whose rejection the miracle had a direct other disciples,—that Christ himself calls reference. But he found nothing thereon but them “babes,” in contrast to the learned leaves only.-St. Mark adds, “ for the and influential of the world. “I thank time of figs was not yet;" that is, the time thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, of gathering them had not arrived, and
20 And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!
21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea ; it shall be done.
therefore the absence of figs arose from fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, nothing but the barrenness of the tree. plucked up by the roots.” This is the plain sense of ov yap nu kalpos Verse 21. If ye have faith, and doubt Oukw, as appears from Matt. xxi. 34, o kal- not, &c.— The lesson just mentioned pos TW Kaptwy, “and when the time of the Christ leaves the disciples to infer; but fruit drew near.” So unnecessarily have he teaches them, from the sudden withercommentators often puzzled themselves ing of the fig tree, at his word, the effiand their readers about a plain matter. ciency of faith. The addition, “and
In causing this fig tree to wither away, doubt not,” un dlakpıonte, is added, not in our Lord invaded no private property, as it the sense of discriminate, but as equivastood by the way side, and belonged to no lent to disasw; and thus to believe and one; and besides, being hopelessly bar- doubt not, signifies the highest degree of ren, it had no value. See note on Mark faith in God. In all such cases of workxi. 13.
ing miracles through faith, a special reVerse 20. And when the disciples saw velation or impression as to the will of it, &c.—St. Matthew does not mark the God is, however, supposed; for the conorder of time, but merely relates the fact: fidence of man has no warrant beyond from St. Mark we learn that it was on God's promise. The sense is well exthe next morning, in coming to Jerusaiem pressed by Mr. Baxter, “ Nothing shall on the same road, that the disciples no- be too hard which God hath promised, ticed that the fig tree was wholly withered. and ye by faith and prayer are fit to reAt this they“ marvelled,” and Christ de- ceive.” Hence the apostles wrought signed that it should arrest their atten- their miracles in the most solemn mantion. It was not an act of passionate ner, as men in immediate communicadisappointment in him to curse the fig tion with God, and acting under intimatree because he found no fruit thereon, tions from him; and to show that this as infidels have profanely asserted, which power was not one so residing in them is refuted by his whole character, on as to be wielded at pleasure, our Lord which a calm dignity was constantly im- adds, “And all things, whatsoever ye pressed; he knew that there was no fruit shall ask in prayer believing, ye shall reon it, and he might have gone to other ceive;" which, however, supposes, that we trees, where his wants might have been ask, as St. John says, “ according to the supplied; but he intended to teach his will of God;" which applies to the disciples an awful lesson by an emblem receiving of the power to work mirawhich not only pointed out the doom of cles, as well as more generally to blesa degenerate nation, of whose hypocritical sings, ordinarily and more specially proand delusive pretensions the barren fig mised not only to the apostles, but to tree was a sign, but also that of hypo- all believers in all future ages. For this crites and apostates from his religion ; for encouragement to believing prayer is to this event St. Jude appears strikingly not, like the working of miracles, to be to allude when he marks the character confined to the apostles, but is a general and fate of such persons, as "trees whose promise. Whatever is asked in faith,
22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer believing, ye shall receive.
23 'And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things ? and who gave thee this authority ?
24 And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things.
25 The baptism of John, whence was it ? from heaven, or of men ? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him ?
i Mark xi. 27 ; Luke xx. 1.
agreeably to the will of God, and which office, they might immediately call him we are authorized to make the subject before the council, and sit in judgment of our supplications, as being contained upon his claims. They probably also in bis covenant promises, shall be given, chose to seek a confession from his own though apparently impossible to attain, mouth that he was a prophet, and to take and though really so, independent of the advantage of any thing on which they immediate exertion of the power of God. might found a charge of blasphemy, raTo remove a mountain, is a proverbial ther than apprehend him without some phrase for performing things the most new charge which the popular excitement difficult or impossible. Hence the Jews in his favour might, as they supposed, say of an acute doctor, one who is able render somewhat dangerous. Our Lord to solve the most intricate questions, "He baffles this plot with the highest wisdom, is a rooter up of mountains.”
because his “hour was not yet come,” Verse 23. The chief priests and elders and he had yet to deliver many weighty of the people. These were the members discourses, and for the public benefit to of the great council, or Sanhedrim, and bear a severer testimony against the hythey came to him in their official capacity; pocrisy and wickedness of this cunning for it belonged to them to inquire into and corrupt race of men. the pretensions of all who assumed the Verse 25. The baptism of John, ĝc.office of prophet, and to punish any That is, the ministry of John, of which whom they might determine had taken baptism upon repentance, and faith in that character falsely. Hence in a Rab- the immediate advent of Messiah, was so binical tract entitled “Sanhedrim,” it is prominent a part ; which ministry John said, “A tribe, a false prophet, or a high fulfilled under the profession of divine priest, is only amenable to the council of authority. The way in which our Lord seventy-one judges.” These members put the case was, as though he said, “ You of the council, therefore, demanded his affect to determine who are true and who authority for making a public entry into are false prophets. Now John professed Jerusalein, for casting out the traders to be a prophet : was his authority from from their accustomed place of permitted heaven, or of men was he a real or only traffic, and for teaching in the temple ; so a pretended messenger from God ?” The that, should he allege the authority of dilemma into which they were thrown is God, and explicitly profess the prophetic confessed among themselves, and was