Matthew 21

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Greetings,

The Triumphal Entry

 1As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

 4This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
 5“Say to the Daughter of Zion,
      ‘See, your king comes to you,
   gentle and riding on a donkey,
      on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ”

 6The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. 8A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
   “Hosanna to the Son of David!”
   “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” 
   “Hosanna in the highest!”

 10When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

 11The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

It was predicted hundreds of years before that Jesus would ride on a donkey.  Of course, this is one of those prophecies that one could fulfill on their own as if reading a script.  But there are so many other fulfilled prophecies that Jesus could not control – where He was born, how He died, the Romans gambling for his clothes, that his legs would not be broken during the crucifixion, etc.

Sometimes people note the fickle nature of the crowds who cheered him on Palm Sunday then yelled for his crucifixion the next Friday.  But it may not have been the same group of people.  Still, think about how our loyalties shift based on circumstances. 

Jesus at the Temple

 12Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13“It is written,” he said to them, ” ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.'”

That was not the passive Jesus people are used to.  These money changers did big business with the visiting Jews who needed local currency for payments and/or animals for sacrifices.   His righteous anger resulted in animals being released and tables overturned.

 14The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.

 16“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.
      “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,
   ” ‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’?”

 17And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.

The Fig Tree Withers

 18Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.

 20When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked.

The fig tree looked good from a distance, but was barren.  I think Jesus was making a commentary on the Israelites.  There is also an application to us if our faith is superficial.

 21Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

Much has been made of the “mountain moving” comment.  It sure sounds like hyperbole to me.   Jesus ministry wasn’t about moving things around in nature, it was about changing hearts and lives and eternal salvation.

The Authority of Jesus Questioned

 23Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”

 24Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?”

   They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 26But if we say, ‘From men’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”

 27So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”
      Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

Once again the Jewish leaders tried to trick Jesus, but He would have none of that. 

The Parable of the Two Sons

 28“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

 29” ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

 30“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

 31“Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
      “The first,” they answered.

   Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.

“Repent and believe” is the simplest way to explain what is required for salvation.  Repent of your sins and believe that Jesus died for your sins and was raised to life.  It isn’t magic words like, “I will, sir,” but true repentance. 

The Parable of the Tenants

 33“Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. 34When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.

 35“The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.

 38“But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

 40“Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”

 41“He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”

 42Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
   ” ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone;
   the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?

 43“Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.” 45When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.

Jesus used this parable to show the leaders that He knew what they were up to with their murderous plot.  Jesus isn’t soft on sin.  He offers mercy and forgiveness now, but one day He will deliver crushing judgment.  Too many preachers and “leaders” leave out that part of the Gospel message.

What passages stood out to you, and why?

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