Matthew 21

Listen to Matthew 21

The Triumphal Entry

1 1Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to 2the Mount of Olives, then Jesus 3sent two disciples,
2 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.
3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord needs them,' and he will send them at once."
4 This took place 4to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,
5 5"Say to the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your king is coming to you, 6humble, and mounted on a donkey, and[a] on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'"
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them.
7 They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them.
8 Most of the crowd 7spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, 8"Hosanna to 9the Son of David! 10Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna 11in the highest!"
10 And 12when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, "Who is this?"
11 And the crowds said, "This is 13the prophet Jesus, 14from Nazareth of Galilee."

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

12 15And Jesus entered the temple[b] and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of 16the money-changers and the seats of those who sold 17pigeons.
13 He said to them, "It is written, 18'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but 19you make it a den of robbers."
14 20And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.
15 21But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, 22"Hosanna to the Son of David!" they were indignant,
16 and they said to him, "Do you hear what these are saying?" And Jesus said to them, "Yes; 23have you never read, 24"'Out of the mouth of 25infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise'?"
17 And 26leaving them, he 27went out of the city to 28Bethany and lodged there.

Jesus Curses the Fig Tree

18 29In the morning, as he was returning to the city, 30he became hungry.
19 31And 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.
20 When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, "How did the fig tree wither at once?"
21 And Jesus answered them, 32"Truly, I say to you, 33if you have faith and 34do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 35'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' it will happen.
22 And 36whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, 37if you have faith."

The Authority of Jesus Challenged

23 38And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him 39as he was teaching, and said, 40"By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?"
24 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.
25 The baptism of John, 41from where did it come? 42From heaven or from man?" And they discussed it among themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will say to us, 43'Why then did you not believe him?'
26 But if we say, 'From man,'44we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was 45a prophet."
27 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

28 46"What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work in 47the vineyard today.'
29 And he answered, 'I will not,' but afterward he 48changed his mind and went.
30 And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, 'I go, sir,' but did not go.
31 Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, 49the tax collectors and 50the prostitutes go into 51the kingdom of God before you.
32 For John came to you 52in the way of righteousness, and 53you did not believe him, but 54the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward 55change your minds and believe him.

The Parable of the Tenants

33 56"Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted 57a vineyard 58and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and 59leased it to tenants, and 60went into another country.
34 When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants[c] to the tenants 61to get his fruit.
35 62And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and 63stoned another.
36 64Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them.
37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.'
38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, 65'This is the heir. Come, 66let us kill him and have his inheritance.'
39 And they took him and 67threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
40 68When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?"
41 They said to him, 69"He will put those wretches to a miserable death and 70let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons."
42 Jesus said to them, 71"Have you never read in the Scriptures: 72"'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;[d] this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?
43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God 73will be taken away from you and given to a people 74producing its fruits.
44 And 75the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and 76when it falls on anyone, it will crush him."[e]
45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them.
46 And 77although they were seeking to arrest him, 78they feared the crowds, because they held him to be 79a 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.

Cross References 79

  • 1. For ver. 1-9, see Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-38; John 12:12-15
  • 2. Matthew 24:3; Matthew 26:30; Zechariah 14:4; [John 8:1]; [Acts 1:12]
  • 3. [Mark 14:13]
  • 4. See Matthew 1:22
  • 5. Cited from Zechariah 9:9; [Isaiah 62:11]
  • 6. Matthew 11:29
  • 7. 2 Kings 9:13
  • 8. [Revelation 7:10]; See Psalms 118:25(Heb.)
  • 9. Matthew 20:30
  • 10. Matthew 23:39; Cited from Psalms 118:26
  • 11. Luke 2:14; [Psalms 148:1]
  • 12. Mark 11:11
  • 13. ver. 46; Luke 7:16; Luke 13:33; Luke 24:19; John 4:19; John 6:14; John 7:40; John 9:17; [Mark 6:15; Luke 9:8, 19; John 1:21]
  • 14. See Matthew 2:23
  • 15. For ver. 12-16, see Mark 11:15-18; Luke 19:45-47; [John 2:14-16]
  • 16. [Exodus 30:13]
  • 17. Leviticus 1:14; Leviticus 5:7; Leviticus 12:8; Luke 2:24
  • 18. Cited from Isaiah 56:7
  • 19. Jeremiah 7:11
  • 20. Matthew 11:5; Matthew 15:31
  • 21. [Luke 19:39, 40]
  • 22. [See ver. 9 above]
  • 23. ver. 42; Matthew 12:3, 5; Matthew 19:4; Matthew 22:31
  • 24. Cited from Psalms 8:2(Gk.)
  • 25. Matthew 11:25
  • 26. Matthew 16:4
  • 27. Mark 11:19; [Luke 21:37]
  • 28. Mark 11:1; Luke 19:29; Luke 24:50; John 11:18
  • 29. For ver. 18-22, see Mark 11:12-14, 20-24
  • 30. Matthew 4:2
  • 31. [Luke 13:6-9]
  • 32. Matthew 17:20
  • 33. [John 14:12]
  • 34. Acts 10:20; Romans 4:20; Romans 14:23; James 1:6
  • 35. [Psalms 46:2; 1 Corinthians 13:2; Revelation 8:8]
  • 36. [See ver. 21 above]
  • 37. See Matthew 7:7
  • 38. For ver. 23-27, see Mark 11:27-33; Luke 20:1-8
  • 39. See Matthew 26:55
  • 40. [Exodus 2:14; John 1:25; Acts 4:7]
  • 41. [Matthew 13:54]
  • 42. Luke 15:18, 21; John 3:27
  • 43. ver. 32; Luke 7:30
  • 44. ver. 46; Matthew 14:5
  • 45. [John 5:35]; See Matthew 11:9
  • 46. Matthew 17:25; Matthew 18:12
  • 47. ver. 33; Matthew 20:1
  • 48. ver. 32; Matthew 27:3; Hebrews 7:21
  • 49. Luke 7:29
  • 50. Luke 7:37-50
  • 51. See Matthew 12:28
  • 52. [Matthew 3:8-12, 15; Proverbs 8:20; 2 Peter 2:21]
  • 53. ver. 25; Matthew 11:18
  • 54. Luke 3:12, 13
  • 55. [See ver. 29 above]
  • 56. For ver. 33-46, see Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-19
  • 57. ver. 28; Psalms 80:8; Isaiah 5:1
  • 58. Isaiah 5:2
  • 59. Song of Songs 8:11, 12
  • 60. Matthew 25:14, 15; [Mark 13:34]
  • 61. [See ver. 33 above]
  • 62. Matthew 5:12; Matthew 22:6; Matthew 23:34, 37; [2 Chronicles 24:19; 2 Chronicles 36:15, 16; Nehemiah 9:26; Jeremiah 37:15; Jeremiah 38:6; Acts 7:52; 2 Corinthians 11:24-26; 1 Thessalonians 2:15; Hebrews 11:36, 37]
  • 63. [2 Chronicles 24:21; John 10:31-33; Acts 7:59]
  • 64. Matthew 22:4
  • 65. Hebrews 1:2; [John 1:11; Romans 8:17]
  • 66. [1 Kings 21:19]
  • 67. Hebrews 13:12
  • 68. [Matthew 24:50; Matthew 25:19]
  • 69. Luke 19:27
  • 70. ver. 43; Acts 13:46; Acts 18:6; Acts 28:28; [Matthew 8:11, 12]
  • 71. ver. 16
  • 72. Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:7; Cited from Psalms 118:22, 23
  • 73. [Luke 14:24]
  • 74. [Matthew 3:10; Isaiah 5:4, 7]
  • 75. Isaiah 8:14, 15; Romans 9:32, 33; 1 Peter 2:8
  • 76. Dan. 2:34, 35, 44, 45
  • 77. Mark 11:18; Luke 19:47, 48; John 7:25, 30, 44; [Matthew 26:4]
  • 78. ver. 26
  • 79. [ver. 11]

Footnotes 5

  • [a]. Or even
  • [b]. Some manuscripts add of God
  • [c]. Greek bondservants; also verses 35, 36
  • [d]. Greek the head of the corner
  • [e]. Some manuscripts omit verse 44

Matthew 21 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.