Matthew 21

Jesus the King-Savior was officially offered to Israel first. He was acclaimed by an unthinking multitude who thought He would then set up His earth kingdom, but He was soon rejected by official representatives of the nation. Nevertheless His rejection by His own people turned to the riches of the Gentiles. The unbelief of sinners is their ruin.

1 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,

2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me.

3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.

4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying,

5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.

6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them,

7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.

8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.

9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.

10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?

11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.

12 ¶ And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,

13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.

15 And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased,

16 And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?

17 ¶ And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.

18 Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered.

19 And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.

20 And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!

21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.

22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

23 ¶ And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?

24 And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things.

25 The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him?

26 But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet.

27 And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.

28 ¶ But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.

29 He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.

30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.

31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.

32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.

33 ¶ Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:

34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.

35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.

36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.

37 But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.

38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.

39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.

40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?

41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.

42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?

43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.

45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.

46 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.

Matthew 21:1-7 – ​The Lowly King

   Our Lord entered the city in fulfillment of prophetic vision, but in great lowliness, along the road carpeted by the loving enthusiasm of the crowds. It was largely a Galilean and popular outburst. The upper classes kept aloof. Remember that ancient prediction quoted here, Isaiah 62:11, and especially Zechariah 9:9. The King comes having salvation. That is the divine order! We shall never know the full power of Christ’s salvation until we have welcomed Him to our hearts as King. —Through the Bible Day by Day

Matthew 21:8-17 – ​The Lord of the Temple

   It was only a crowd of poor people who escorted Jesus on Palm Sunday to the Holy City; but they sent their hosannas upward to the highest, and their shouts of acclamation and praise are ever ringing down the ages. Let us take them up and pass them on. Hosanna means Save now, Psalm 118:25, which formed part of the Great Hallel, or Passover Psalms. Thus, one day, His Church, and probably the literal Israel of the future, will hail Him with transports of joy. See Zechariah 2:10. Where Jesus comes, He cleanses. At His word the heart that was filled with the din of worldly care becomes the home of prayer, and children—the emblems of humility, simplicity, and faith—gather. While the needy and the childlike are attracted by our Lord’s gentleness, wrongdoers are driven out before the “terror of the Lord.” —Through the Bible Day by Day

Matthew 21:18-22 – ​Fruitlessness Judged and Faith Rewarded

   Men have found fault with our Lord for smiting this tree with barrenness. Yet what teacher would not root up a plant, if he desired to teach his pupils some lesson, which could be taught only in that manner! Surely Jesus was perfectly justified in making that fig tree the symbol of the judgment that must overtake all who profess but do not possess. Beware lest He seek fruit of thee in vain!
   But how wonderful those words on faith! He could speak thus, because He was the “author and finisher” of faith (Hebrews 12:2). Paul lived by “the faith of the Son of God.” See Galatians 2:20. All things are possible to him that believeth. Faith annihilates time and distance. To her the unseen is more real than the seen; and the distant as near as the things which the hand can touch. She is the open hand of the soul, which appropriates and takes from the hand of God. But faith is impossible apart from prayer. —Through the Bible Day by Day

Matthew 21:22—All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

​   This was a very remarkable answer; showing that the Lord, in his human life, was the Author and Finisher of the life of faith. He did not quote his Divine Power and Godhead as the cause of the withering of the fig-tree; but proceeded to give a lesson on faith, as much as to say that He had wrought the miracle by faith in his Father, and that they could do as He had done, if only they had a similar faith.
   Where we get wrong in prayer is that we are all self-willed. We set ourselves to pray for things; we vow to sit up all night to bring God round to our way of thinking; we use strong cryings, tears, and protestations; we endeavor to work ourselves into a frame of faith; we think we believe; we shut the doors of our heart against the tiniest suggestion or suspicion that we do not believe. And then we are surprised if the fig-tree does not wither, or the mountains remove.
   Where are we wrong? It is not hard to see. There is too much of self and the energy of the flesh in all this. We can only believe for a thing when we are in such union with God that his thought and purpose can freely flow into its, suggesting, what we should pray for, and leading us to that point in which there is a perfect sympathy and understanding between us and the Divine mind. Faith is always the product of such a frame as this. Be sure that you are in alignment with God’s purpose. Wait for Him till the impulses of nature have subsided, and the soul is hushed and still. Then the Spirit will lead you to ask what is in the will of God to give, and you will know instantly that the Spirit intercedes within you according to the will of God. —Our Daily Homily

Matthew 21:22 – Prayer is the bow, the promise is the arrow: faith is the hand which draws the bow, and sends the arrow with the heart’s message to heaven. The bow without the arrow is of no use; and the arrow without the bow is of little worth; and both, without the strength of the hand, to no purpose. Neither the promise without prayer, nor prayer without the promise, nor both without faith, avail the Christian anything. What was said of the Israelites (Hebrews 3:19), “They could not enter in because of unbelief”, the same may be said of many of our prayers: they cannot enter heaven, because they are not put up in faith. (Salter)

Matthew 21:23-32 – ​Authority Which Silenced and Condemned

   Our Lord always refused to gratify idle curiosity. When an earnest seeker for truth, like Nicodemus, approached Him to know the way of life, He was willing to give time and thought without stint. But of what use was it to endeavor to satisfy these men who had refused to acknowledge the divine mission of the Forerunner! They would not speak out their inner convictions, because of the effect it would have on their worldly prospects. For such as these Christ has nothing. At all costs, we must be true to the inner light, that is, to God’s Spirit within us.
   The parable of the two sons teaches that hard hearts may lie under fair words, while those of whom we expect least and whose first greeting is abrupt and disappointing, may later prove to be the most devoted and hopeful disciples. If a man repels the gospel with violence, he is more likely ultimately to be won than he who gives a polite and facile assent. —Through the Bible Day by Day

Matthew 21:33-46 – ​Rejecters Themselves Rejected

   This parable is based on Isaiah 5:1-7. The husbandmen are the religious leaders of the people. The vineyard is of course the Hebrew nation. The servants sent for the produce refer to the prophets and others raised up from time to time to speak for God and to demand “fruits meet for repentance” (Matthew 3:8). Notice that when He speaks of the mission of the Son, our Lord severs Himself, by the sharpest possible line, from all merely human messengers and claims sonship in the most intimate and lofty sense of the word.
   It is said that in the building of Solomon’s Temple, a curiously shaped stone, sent from the quarry, was left to lie for many months in the entangled undergrowth, till suddenly its fitness was discovered for a place in the Temple walls. Then it was put into its right position, which it occupied thenceforward. This incident may be referred to in Psalm 118:22. How truly it portrays men’s treatment of our Lord! Is He your corner-stone? —Through the Bible Day by Day