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Verses 18-22

Matthew 21:18-22. In the morning, as he returned, he hungered For, being a man, he was subject to all the innocent infirmities of our nature, and he had come out from Bethany early without eating any thing: And when he saw a fig-tree (Gr. συκην μιαν , a single fig-tree) in the way Having a fine spread of leaves upon it, and therefore appearing to be one of the earlier kind; he came to it In expectation of finding figs thereon, for the season of gathering them was not yet come, Mark 11:12; and found nothing but leaves only By which it plainly appeared that, though it looked so beautiful, it was a barren tree. Thus Christ’s just expectations from flourishing professors are often disappointed; he comes to many seeking fruit, and finds leaves only: they have a name to live, but are dead. And he said, Let no fruit grow on thee for ever As thou art now fruitless, continue always so. Thus the sin of hypocrites and unfruitful professors is made their punishment; they would not bring forth the fruits of righteousness, and therefore they shall not bring them forth. And presently the fig-tree withered away That is, began to wither away. This, like many other of our Lord’s actions, was emblematical. It signified that the curse of God would thus wither and destroy the Jewish nation, which he had before compared to a barren fig-tree; Luke 13:6-9. And when the disciples saw it As they went by the next day, Mark 11:20, they marvelled, saying, How soon, &c. They were astonished to see it withered down to the roots in the space of one day. Jesus answered, If ye have faith, and doubt not So the same word διακρινομαι is rendered James 1:6, and so it doubtless frequently signifies; but Dr. Whitby proposes rendering it here, do not discriminate, or put a difference: as if our Lord had said, “If you have such a faith as puts no difference between things you can, and things you cannot do, but makes you fully persuaded you can do any thing which tends to the glory of God, and is requisite for the promotion of the Christian faith, you shall be able to perform the most difficult things; which is the meaning of the phrase, to remove mountains.” Thus we learn that one great end of our Lord in this miracle was, to confirm and increase the faith of his disciples: another was, to warn them against unfruitfulness. And all things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer All things that God in his word authorizes you to ask, as being for your real profit, or that of others, and for God’s glory, and therefore according to his will, 1 John 5:14; ye shall receive “Nothing shall be too hard which God hath promised, and ye by faith and prayer are fit to receive.” So Baxter. “Faith is the soul, prayer is the body; both together make a complete man for any service. Faith, if it be right, will excite prayer, and prayer is not right if it do not spring from faith. This is the condition of our receiving; we must ask in prayer, believing: the requests of prayer shall not be denied: the expectations of faith shall not be frustrated. We have many promises to this purpose from the mouth of our Lord Jesus, and all to encourage faith, the principal grace, and prayer, the principal duty of a Christian. It is but, ask and have; believe and receive; and what would we more?” So Henry.

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