Matthew 21

The Triumphal Entry

1 When they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage at the Mount of Olives, Jesus then sent two disciples,
2 telling them, "Go into the village ahead of you. At once you will find a donkey tied there, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to Me.
3 If anyone says anything to you, you should say that the Lord needs them, and immediately he will send them."
4 This took place so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled:
5 Tell Daughter Zion, "See, your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden." [a]
6 The disciples went and did just as Jesus directed them.
7 They brought the donkey and the colt; then they laid their robes on them, and He sat on them.
8 A very large crowd spread their robes on the road; others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them on the road.
9 Then the crowds who went ahead of Him and those who followed kept shouting: Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! [b] Hosanna in the highest heaven!
10 When He entered Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken, saying, "Who is this?"
11 And the crowds kept saying, "This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee!"

Cleansing the Temple Complex

12 Jesus went into the temple complex[c] and drove out all those buying and selling in the temple. He overturned the money changers' tables and the chairs of those selling doves.
13 And He said to them, "It is written, My house will be called a house of prayer. [d] But you are making it a den of thieves !" [e]

Children Cheer Jesus

14 The blind and the lame came to Him in the temple complex, and He healed them.
15 When the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonders that He did and the children in the temple complex cheering, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" they were indignant
16 and said to Him, "Do You hear what these [children] are saying?" "Yes," Jesus told them. "Have you never read: You have prepared [f] praise from the mouths of children and nursing infants "? [g]
17 Then He left them, went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.

The Barren Fig Tree

18 Early in the morning, as He was returning to the city, He was hungry.
19 Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He went up to it and found nothing on it except leaves. And He said to it, "May no fruit ever come from you again!" At once the fig tree withered.
20 When the disciples saw it, they were amazed and said, "How did the fig tree wither so quickly?"
21 Jesus answered them, "I assure you: If you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you tell this mountain, 'Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,' it will be done.
22 And if you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."

Messiah's Authority Challenged

23 When He entered the temple complex, 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? Who gave You this authority?"
24 Jesus answered them, "I will also ask you one question, and if you answer it for Me, then I will tell you by what authority I do these things.
25 Where did John's baptism come from? From heaven or from men?" They began to argue among themselves, "If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say to us, 'Then why didn't you believe him?'
26 But if we say, 'From men,' we're afraid of the crowd, because everyone thought John was a prophet."
27 So they answered Jesus, "We don't know." And He said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.

The Parable of the Two Sons

28 "But what do you think? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said, 'My son, go, work in the vineyard today.'
29 "He answered, 'I don't want to!' Yet later he changed his mind and went.
30 Then the man went to the other and said the same thing. " 'I will, sir,' he answered. But he didn't go.
31 "Which of the two did his father's will?" "The first," they said. Jesus said to them, "I assure you: Tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you!
32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, [h] and you didn't believe him. Tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him, but you, when you saw it, didn't even change your minds then and believe him.

The Parable of the Vineyard Owner

33 "Listen to another parable: There was a man, a landowner, who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a winepress in it, and built a watchtower. [i] He leased it to tenant farmers and went away.
34 When the grape harvest [j] drew near, he sent his slaves to the farmers to collect his fruit.
35 But the farmers took his slaves, beat one, killed another, and stoned a third.
36 Again, he sent other slaves, more than the first group, and they did the same to them.
37 Finally, he sent his son to them. 'They will respect my son,' he said.
38 "But when the tenant farmers saw the son, they said among themselves, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him and take his inheritance!'
39 So they seized 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 farmers?"
41 "He will completely destroy those terrible men," they told Him, "and lease his vineyard to other farmers who will give him his produce at the harvest."[k]
42 Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. [l] This came from the Lord and is wonderful in our eyes ? [m] [n]
43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing its [o] fruit. [
44 Whoever falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder!"] [p] [q]
45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they knew He was speaking about them.
46 Although they were looking for a way to arrest Him, they feared the crowds, because they[r] regarded Him as a prophet.

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Matthew 21 Commentary

Chapter 21

Christ enters Jerusalem. (1-11) He drives out those who profaned the temple. (12-17) The barren fig-tree cursed. (18-22) Jesus' discourse in the temple. (23-27) The parable of the two sons. (28-32) The parable of the wicked husbandmen. (33-46)

Verses 1-11 This coming of Christ was described by the prophet Zechariah, ( Zechariah 9:9 ) . When Christ would appear in his glory, it is in his meekness, not in his majesty, in mercy to work salvation. As meekness and outward poverty were fully seen in Zion's King, and marked his triumphal entrance to Jerusalem, how wrong covetousness, ambition, and the pride of life must be in Zion's citizens! They brought the ass, but Jesus did not use it without the owner's consent. The trappings were such as came to hand. We must not think the clothes on our backs too dear to part with for the service of Christ. The chief priests and the elders afterwards joined with the multitude that abused him upon the cross; but none of them joined the multitude that did him honour. Those that take Christ for their King, must lay their all under his feet. Hosanna signifies, Save now, we beseech thee! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord! But of how little value is the applause of the people! The changing multitude join the cry of the day, whether it be Hosanna, or Crucify him. Multitudes often seem to approve the gospel, but few become consistent disciples. When Jesus was come into Jerusalem all the city was moved; some perhaps were moved with joy, who waited for the Consolation of Israel; others, of the Pharisees, were moved with envy. So various are the motions in the minds of men upon the approach of Christ's kingdom.

Verses 12-17 Christ found some of the courts of the temple turned into a market for cattle and things used in the sacrifices, and partly occupied by the money-changers. Our Lord drove them from the place, as he had done at his entering upon his ministry, ( John 2:13-17 ) . His works testified of him more than the hosannas; and his healing in the temple was the fulfilling the promise, that the glory of the latter house should be greater than the glory of the former. If Christ came now into many parts of his visible church, how many secret evils he would discover and cleanse! And how many things daily practised under the cloak of religion, would he show to be more suitable to a den of thieves than to a house of prayer!

Verses 18-22 This cursing of the barren fig-tree represents the state of hypocrites in general, and so teaches us that Christ looks for the power of religion in those who profess it, and the savour of it from those that have the show of it. His just expectations from flourishing professors are often disappointed; he comes to many, seeking fruit, and finds leaves only. A false profession commonly withers in this world, and it is the effect of Christ's curse. The fig-tree that had no fruit, soon lost its leaves. This represents the state of the nation and people of the Jews in particular. Our Lord Jesus found among them nothing but leaves. And after they rejected Christ, blindness and hardness grew upon them, till they were undone, and their place and nation rooted up. The Lord was righteous in it. Let us greatly fear the doom denounced on the barren fig-tree.

Verses 23-27 As our Lord now openly appeared as the Messiah, the chief priests and scribes were much offended, especially because he exposed and removed the abuses they encouraged. Our Lord asked what they thought of John's ministry and baptism. Many are more afraid of the shame of lying than of the sin, and therefore scruple not to speak what they know to be false, as to their own thoughts, affections, and intentions, or their remembering and forgetting. Our Lord refused to answer their inquiry. It is best to shun needless disputes with wicked opposers.

Verses 28-32 Parables which give reproof, speak plainly to the offenders, and judge them out of their own mouths. The parable of the two sons sent to work in the vineyard, is to show that those who knew not John's baptism to be of God, were shamed by those who knew it, and owned it. The whole human race are like children whom the Lord has brought up, but they have rebelled against him, only some are more plausible in their disobedience than others. And it often happens, that the daring rebel is brought to repentance and becomes the Lord's servant, while the formalist grows hardened in pride and enmity.

Verses 33-46 This parable plainly sets forth the sin and ruin of the Jewish nation; and what is spoken to convict them, is spoken to caution all that enjoy the privileges of the outward church. As men treat God's people, they would treat Christ himself, if he were with them. How can we, if faithful to his cause, expect a favourable reception from a wicked world, or from ungodly professors of Christianity! And let us ask ourselves, whether we who have the vineyard and all its advantages, render fruits in due season, as a people, as a family, or as separate persons. Our Saviour, in his question, declares that the Lord of the vineyard will come, and when he comes he will surely destroy the wicked. The chief priests and the elders were the builders, and they would not admit his doctrine or laws; they threw him aside as a despised stone. But he who was rejected by the Jews, was embraced by the Gentiles. Christ knows who will bring forth gospel fruits in the use of gospel means. The unbelief of sinners will be their ruin. But God has many ways of restraining the remainders of wrath, as he has of making that which breaks out redound to his praise. May Christ become more and more precious to our souls, as the firm Foundation and Cornerstone of his church. May we be willing to follow him, though despised and hated for his sake.

Footnotes 18

Matthew 21 Commentaries