Matthew 21 (NRSV)
Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem
When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. 3If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.”
4This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, 5“Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
“This entry into Jerusalem has been termed the triumph of Christ. It was indeed the triumph of humility over pride and worldly grandeur; of poverty over affluence; and of meekness and gentleness over rage and malice.”
6The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Psalm 24:8 (NASB)
Who is the King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty,
The LORD mighty in battle.
This was open Messianic adoration of Jesus. They look to Jesus for salvation (Hosanna means “save now!” and was addressed to kings, as in 2 Samuel 14:4 and 2 Kings 6:26). They openly give Jesus the titles appropriate for the Messiah (Son of David… He who comes in the name of the LORD).
HERE is “Hosanna” by Phil Driscoll, singer and trumpeter.
10When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?”
11The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Jesus Cleanses the Temple
12Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.
Barclay notes, “A pair of doves could cost as little as 4p outside the Temple and as much as 75p inside the Temple.” This is almost 20 times more expensive.
13He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a den of robbers.”
14The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he cured them. 15But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the amazing things that he did, and heard the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became angry
This was their response to the wonderful things that He did, and to the praise of children for Jesus in the temple courts. The hypocrisy of the religious leaders is evident. Greed and theft in the temple didn’t bother them, but praise to Jesus did.
16and said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?”
Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise for yourself’?”
17He left them, went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.
Jesus Curses the Fig Tree
18In the morning, when he returned to the city, he was hungry. 19And seeing a fig tree by the side of the road, he went to it and found nothing at all on it but leaves. Then he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.
In a dramatic way, Jesus performed one of His few destructive miracles. His curse made the fig tree to wither away.
It is worth noting that the two destructive miracles of Jesus (this and the events that ended in the destruction of the herd of pigs, Matthew 8:30-32) – were not directed towards people.
20When the disciples saw it, they were amazed, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?”
21Jesus answered them, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done. 22Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.”
James 5:16 (NLT)
The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
The Authority of Jesus Questioned
23When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?”
24Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?”
And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.”
27So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.”
“They could not say, ‘Of men,’ for they were cowards. They would not say, ‘Of heaven,’ for they were hypocrites.”
–G. Campbell Morgan, 1863 – 1945, British evangelist, preacher, and Bible scholar
Jesus kindly and compassionately met the needs of the hurting multitude, as demonstrated in Matthew 21:14. But Jesus didn’t show much patience with those who arrogantly questioned Him and hoped to trap Him in His own words. Jesus never fell into their trap.
And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
The Parable of the Two Sons
28“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’
29He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went.
30The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go.
31Which of the two did the will of his father?”
They said, “The first.”
What matters in our lives is the doing of God’s will, not just the saying of proper religious words.
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32For 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 after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.
“The shock value of Jesus’ statement can only be appreciated when the low esteem in which tax collectors were held, not to mention prostitutes, is taken into account.”
–D. A. Carson
The Parable of the Wicked Tenants
33“Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. 34When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce.
35But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. 37Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’
38But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.” 39So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
40Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”
41They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.”
42Jesus 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 amazing in our eyes’?
Jesus quoted this from Psalm 118 to remind them that their rejection of Him said more about their guilt and coming judgment than it said about Jesus Himself. Though they reject Him, He is still the chief cornerstone, fulfilling the great Messianic promise He quoted.
43Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. 44The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.”
45When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them.
“Who told them so, but their own guilty consciences?”
–John Trapp, English Puritan
46They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.