Matthew 21

Matthew 21

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The Triumphal Entry

21 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

  “Say to the daughter of Zion,
  ‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
    humble, and mounted on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read,

  “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies
    you have prepared praise’?”

And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there.

Jesus Curses the Fig Tree

In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.

When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

The Authority of Jesus Challenged

And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.

The Parable of the Two Sons

“What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.

The Parable of the Tenants

“Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.”

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

  “‘The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
  this was the Lord’s doing,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes’?

Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet.


Matthew 21 Commentary

by Hank Workman

We often look at Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem as a statement that He was humble. This is true.  But with the historical aspect of leaders entering a city his choice of what animal spoke to the observers.

In ancient times, a King would ride a horse into town if he was declaring war.   When a leader chose instead to ride a donkey it signified he was coming in peace.  This choice alone spoke greatly to what Jesus was doing.  Not only was he declaring He was King.  He was symbolizing the truth that the battle was over, the victory had been won and the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Peace had been established.

But there was more.  Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy by Zechariah over 400 years before about the Messiah who would come.

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

Zechariah 9:9

Jesus was entering into Jerusalem as the conquering King.  He had come to them.  He brought salvation.

Historians say that some 2 1/2 million Jewish people would have been in Jerusalem for Passover that week.  They had traveled from all over to be part of the festivities and also to sacrifice a lamb for their sins.  This ride not only was a fulfillment of prophecy, Jesus was intentionally making a statement to the entire crowd and population that He was the Messiah.  He alone held salvation.  He alone held peace.  This first real public announcement would have brought thrill to the followers and absolute anger to the opposers.

On so many levels, this showed the courage of Jesus.  Jesus knew what awaited Him by the end of the week.  He chose to put Himself center stage for that all to unfold.  He also knew people would talk and wonder at this spectacle.  In fact, in verse 10 the people ask “Who is this man?” after He had entered and the praises of Hosanna had gone up.  The word Hosanna translates to “Save us!” Absolutely all of this was by design.  Jesus appealed to the crowd through this ride.  He came to Jerusalem in peace.  The battle was already over.

I pause and think about the timing of all this.  We know Jesus had an incredibly rough few more days to complete His earthly life.  He knew exactly what would happen.  Yet, He rode in town declaring peace even though He would face the worst death imaginable.  It was a declaration of peace in the midst of the storm.  Jesus is the conquering King.  

Sometimes we face situations that are absolutely horrendous.  We have an idea of how even they will turn out before they do.  There is something very powerful about having peace in the middle of it all.  It’s something I personally struggle with at times when as they say, “The handwriting is on the wall”.  But the beauty to cling to is the peace only Jesus can bring as the victor no matter what or how things play out.

We may indeed be shouting “Save us!” but there is more we need – that is to find our way to the peace He declares and resting in that.

Matthew 21 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

During the Passover festival, scores of Jews came from all over Israel and the Roman Empire to worship and celebrate. Since many traveled long distances, it was cumbersome to carry with them their animal for sacrifice. Greedy merchants, much like today, saw an opportunity and seized it. They would set up shop on the outer court of the temple to sell animals to travelers.

They also set up a “money changer” which was a currency exchange for travelers who needed to pay their annual tax. The tax had to be paid in Jewish or Tyrian coinage because it was a higher purity of silver. The sinister part of the whole deal was the fees that the money changers tacked on for this currency exchange.

Did you know that Jesus cleansed the temple on two separate occasions? The first is seen in John 2:14-16 and would have taken place early in Jesus’ ministry…

“And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables.  15  And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables;  16  and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.””

John 2:14-16 NASB 

The second is found here in Matthew 21. The most fascinating part of Matthew’s account is how the lame and the blind came to Him immediately after this (small-scale) outburst. I say small because we don’t read of the Roman authorities getting involved. These healings, which took place in the temple, are the only healings recorded by the Gospels in the city of Jerusalem.

Jesus backed up His work with Scripture. After the chief priests and scribes questioned Him, the reply focused on what was written in the prophecies. Jesus was not only teaching humanity God’s heart, but He was fulfilling every Word written about the Messiah. He would do it with grace and truth – as only our Lord could do.

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