|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
21:18-22 This cursing of the barren fig-tree represents the state of hypocrites in general, and so teaches us that Christ looks for the power of religion in those who profess it, and the savour of it from those that have the show of it. His just expectations from flourishing professors are often disappointed; he comes to many, seeking fruit, and finds leaves only. A false profession commonly withers in this world, and it is the effect of Christ's curse. The fig-tree that had no fruit, soon lost its leaves. This represents the state of the nation and people of the Jews in particular. Our Lord Jesus found among them nothing but leaves. And after they rejected Christ, blindness and hardness grew upon them, till they were undone, and their place and nation rooted up. The Lord was righteous in it. Let us greatly fear the doom denounced on the barren fig-tree.
Verses 18-22. - The cursing of the barren fig tree. (Mark 11:12-14:, 20-26.) Verse 18. - In the morning (πρωίας, which implies a very early time of the day, and is a term used for the fourth or last watch of the night, Mark 1:35). St. Matthew has combined in one view a transaction which had two separate stages, as we gather from the narrative of St. Mark. The curse was uttered on the Monday morning, before the cleansing of the temple; the effect was beheld and the lesson given on the Tuesday, when Jesus was visiting Jerusalem for the third time (vers. 20-22). Strauss and his followers, resenting the miraculous in the incident, have imagined that the whole story is merely an embodiment and development of the parable of the fruitless fig tree recorded by St. Luke (Luke 13:6, etc.), which in course of time assumed this historical form. There is no ground whatever for this idea. It claims to be, and doubtless is, the account of a real fact, naturally connected with the circumstances of the time, and of great practical importance. He hungered. True Man, he showed the weakness of his human nature, even when about to exert his power in the Divine. There is no need, rather it is unseemly to suppose (as many old commentators have done), that this hunger was miraculous or assumed, in order to give occasion for the coming miracle. Christ had either passed the night on the mountain-side in prayer and fasting, or had started from his lodging without breaking his fast. His followers do not seem to have suffered in the same way; and it was doubtless owing to his mental preoccupation and self-forgetfulness that the Lord had not attended to bodily wants.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Now in the morning,.... Greek "in the first", or morning light, in the dawn, or break of day, the first spring of light; so the Latins (s) use "prima luce" for early in the morning, as soon as ever day breaks: so early did Christ rise, and return from Bethany to Jerusalem;
and as he returned to the city. The Persic version renders it, "they returned"; which, though not a good version, gives a true sense; for, as Christ went with the twelve to Bethany, as Mark affirms, so these returned with him, as is clear from what follows. Thus Christ, day after day, went to and from Jerusalem: in the evening he went to Bethany, or to some part of the Mount of Olives, and there abode all night, and returned in the daytime to Jerusalem, and taught in the temple; for it does not appear that he was one night in Jerusalem, before the night of the passover.
He hungered, rising so early before his friends were up, he had eaten nothing that morning, and so before he had got far from Bethany, found himself hungry; which proves the truth of his human nature, which was in all respects like to ours, excepting sin.
(s) Caesar. Comment. 1. 1. p. 14. & passim. Curtius, 1. 5. c. 5. passim. Apulei Metamorph. 1. 9. p. 134.
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