Bible Commentaries

Hamilton Smith's Writings

Mark 11

Verses 1-33

( Mark 11:1-6). Having come nigh to Jerusalem, preparation is made for the Lord"s presentation to Israel as the Son of David in fulfilment of the prophecy of Zechariah ( Zechariah 9:9). This was a fresh witness to the glory of the Lord and a last testimony to the people. Coming as the King He acts with kingly authority. If any question is raised as to why the disciples were loosening the colt, it would be sufficient to reply "that the Lord hath need of him," and straightway every question would cease. So it came to pass and so will it be in the coming day of glory, when it will be true of Zion that "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power." ( Psalm 110:3).

(Vv7-11). Entering Jerusalem, the Lord is surrounded by a crowd who praise Him as the King, quoting Psalm 118:25-26, "save now . . . Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the LORD." Such will be the cry of the nation in a day to come, when a remnant awakened to repentance will look to the LORD for salvation. That time had not yet come. But though the leaders of the nation reject the Lord, the babes and sucklings may render a testimony to His glory ( Psalm 8:2). Having entered the city and the temple, everything passes under the searching gaze of the Lord, only to make evident the signs of rebellion, corruption and unbelief- a condition that the Lord refuses to sanction by His presence; thus, at eventide, He returns to Bethany where there were a few by whom He was loved and owned.

(Vv12-14). On the morrow, returning to the city with His disciples, we read of the King that "He was hungry." He sought fruit on a fig tree, but found "nothing but leaves." May we not say, that with the Lord, it was not only a physical hunger, but a spiritual hunger that sought for some return from Israel for all the centuries of goodness bestowed upon the nation by God? Something that would be fruit to satisfy the heart of God. As in the tree, the Lord found plenty of leaves but no fruit; so in the nation, He found a great profession of piety before men, but nothing in the secret life that would be fruit for God.

How solemn the result! Those who, whatever their religious profession before men, cease to live rightly before God, will be set aside as a testimony before men. Thus the Lord has to say, "No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever." This surely is a principle of wide application, for, at a later date, the Lord has to say of the church at Ephesus, that made such a fair show of piety with their works, that their affections were not true to Himself, for He has to say, "Thou hast left thy first love." In result the Lord warns them that He would remove their candlestick. The heart not being right with Christ they would lose their testimony before men- a solemn reminder to us all that the real test of spirituality is not the outward profession of piety before men, but the secret life lived before Christ.

(Vv15-19). Having come into the city Jesus went into the temple, only to find how great had been the corruption of the House of God in the hands of men. That House through which God approaches men, and man can approach God, had become corrupted in the hands of religious professors into a means of indulging their greed. What the leaders in Israel did, it is possible for the leaders in the Christian assembly to do, but for the grace of God. In after years, the Apostle Paul warns us against the intrusion into the Christian circle of men of corrupt minds that "suppose gain to be the end of piety" ( 1 Timothy 6:5). Again the Apostle Peter, who presents the Church as the House of God, exhorts leaders to beware of attempting to feed the flock of God for "filthy lucre" ( 1 Peter 5:2). He also warns us, in his second epistle, that the time will come when men will arise in the Christian circle who "through covetousness" will "make merchandise" of believers. Thus we learn that the flesh never alters. The covetousness that corrupted the House of God at Jerusalem, has intruded with its corrupting influence into the spiritual House of God. So the time has come "that judgment must begin at the House of God." ( 1 Peter 4:7).

In plain terms the Lord condemns this corruption. The House which, according to Scripture, was to be a house of prayer for all nations, had been made into a den of thieves ( Isaiah 56:7 : Jeremiah 7:11). The only effect of the Lord"s denunciation of this wickedness was to raise the most extreme opposition against Himself. "The scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy Him." And, in our day, in the presence of he corruption of Christendom, those who seek to follow the Lord in making any stand for the truth, will in some measure encounter opposition. "Truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey." ( Isaiah 59:15).

(Vv20-26). The Lord instructs His disciples in the great principle that enables the feeblest saint to overcome the greatest difficulty and the most subtle opponent. Outwardly all the power and authority of the established order was in the hands of those who were opposing the Lord and His teaching. How then were a few poor fishermen to stand against the wisdom and power of men in high places? The Lord"s answer Isaiah, "Have faith in God." All the power of those who were represented by the barren fig tree would vanish before the power of God used by faith. The Jewish nation which represented the whole system of the law, loomed large in the yes of the disciples, even as a mountain that had stood for ages. Nevertheless, though to sight the nation looked so stable and enduring, faith could discern that it was about to be cast into the sea of nations. But though the mountain would be removed, God would remain, the unfailing resource for faith.

Moreover, faith expresses itself in prayer to God. But faith in God not only implies that we make known our requests to God, but in doing Song of Solomon, we look for an answer. So the Spirit of God by the Apostle Paul can exhort us to pray "at all seasons with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance." ( Ephesians 6:18). Thus we are warned against the formal repetition of general requests.

Furthermore, in prayer, we are warned by the Lord against cherishing revengeful thoughts against those who may have offended, or opposed us. Nothing will so hinder our prayers as unbelief in God- the One to Whom we pray, as an unforgiving spirit to man about whom we may pray. One has truly said that the Lord "joins with believing prayer the need of a tender spirit of forgiveness towards any against whom the heart might retain the sense of wrong, lest the Father"s government should be made to remember one"s own offences" (F.W.G.).

( Mark 11:27-33;, Mark 12:1-44) THE REJECTION OF THE LEADERS

We have seen the Lord Jesus presented to the nation as the King- the Son of David, only to be rejected by the leaders who "sought how they might destroy Him." In this portion of the Gospel, the leaders of the different classes that composed the nation, are exposed in their true condition and rejected by Christ.

( Mark 11:27-33). As ever, the most bitter opponents to Christ are the religious leaders of a corrupted system. The chief priests, the scribes and elders, are the first to be exposed in the presence of the Lord. By the exercise of Divine power and grace the Lord had given sight to a blind man. As the Son of David, He had entered Jerusalem and cleansed the temple. Alas! these religious leaders, thinking only of themselves and their religious reputation, were alike indifferent to the needs of men, and the holiness of God"s house. Seeking to maintain their own authority, they were jealous of any action in the religious sphere, apart from their direction. Indifferent to the corruption that existed in the House of God, and incapable of dealing with it themselves, they oppose the One who can, and does, deal with the evil, by raising the question of authority.

The Lord meets their opposition by asking a question as to John the Baptist. Seeing they take the place of religious leaders, can they decide whether the authority for his mission came from heaven or from men? The Lord"s question not only demonstrates their incapacity to judge of questions of authority, but exposes their utter insincerity in raising the question.

Their reasoning among themselves, before answering the Lord, proves their utter lack of all principle. Whatever their convictions, they were ready, as a matter of policy to answer one way or the other. But, they judge that either answer might expose them to condemnation from the Lord or from men. Therefore, they fall back on silence, by saying, "We cannot tell." Their hypocritical wickedness being exposed, the Lord refuses to answer their question.

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Bibliographical Information
Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Mark 11". "Hamilton Smith's Writings". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hsw/mark-11.html. 1832.