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Friday, May 24th, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 21

Concordant Commentary of the New TestamentConcordant NT Commentary

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Verses 1-11

20 James and John were the sons of Zebedee ( Mar_:10:35 ). Our Lord called them “sons of thunder” ( Mar_3:17 ), to indicate their tempestuous and violent disposition. The gentleness and love of John's writings are not the reflection of his character, but of the restraint of the inspiring Spirit. They certainly were the most ambitious and selfish of all the apostles. The request of their mother shows how little fellowship they had with His downward path to the shame and humiliation of the cross. They could not comprehend that this was the only path to glory. Only those who drink His cup can share His honors. So He grants them the boon of a sip of His sorrow. James was the first to follow his Lord. Herod put him to death by the sword ( Act_12:1 ). But John seems to have lived longer.

21-23 See Mat_19:28 , Mat_26:39-42 ; Luk_12:50 ; Act_12:2 .

24 It is evident from the resentment of the rest that they also coveted the highest place, even if they could not follow Him to the lowest. So He gives them a sorely needed lesson on the true path to greatness. It consists in service, servility, and suffering, the very opposite of the course they were accustomed to associate with human honors. His own example was their cue. Only those who suffer are qualified to reign. The greatness of His glories finds its source in His service as a slave, and the sorrows of His soul, of which He spoke to them in vain.

25 See Luk_22:24-27 .

26 See Mat_23:11 ; Mar_9:35 ; 1Pe_:5:3 .

27 See Mat_18:4 .

28 See Joh_13:4 ; Joh_11:51-52 ; Joh_14:5 ; Php_2:5-7 ; Isa_53:10-12

29-31 Compare Mar_10:46-48 ; Luk_18:35-39 . See Mat_9:27-31 .

32-34 Compare Mar_10:49-52 ; Luk_18:40-43 .

29 The restoration of two blind men was in itself a marvelous manifestation of His messiahship, but we must not miss the deeper current of thought which lies beneath. He was going out of Jericho, the city of the curse. Does this not speak of His resurrection, the exit from the curse of the cross? Two is the number of testimony. He sent the seventy-two in pairs. He was accompanied on His journey by His apostles, who were to testify concerning Him, but they were blind! They could not see the great central sight of all testimony, the cross of Christ. Hence they could not follow Him in spirit, though they accompanied Him in flesh. When shall their blindness be moved? When He emerges from the curse. And so it was. Not till then did He open up their mind to understand the Scriptures ( Luk_24:45 ).

1-9 Compare Mar_11:1-10 ; Luk_19:28-44 .

1 The animals on which our Lord was supported on His presentation to Israel were representative of the ransomed. The firstlings had to be ransomed with a lamb ( Exo_13:13 ). Thus the whole scene was a typical picture of spiritual truth. The ransomed had been bound,

but He has them loosed and brought to own His sovereignty. Only on this occasion does He exercise His prerogative as King and commandeer a mount for His royal entry. He will come some day on a white horse ( Rev_19:11 ), in might and majesty, and enforce His claims with a gory sword. But not so now. Only the lowly beasts of burden bear Him. Only His own support Him. They offer Him the humble honors and lowly loyalty of their station. Their garments pave His path. Their leafy offerings carpet the royal roadway. Their acclamations proclaim Him King. But what a feeble few they are! The citizens of His capital do not even recognize their Sovereign! They ask “Who is this?” And the best answer they could get was “This is the prophet.” They should have said “This is Christ, the King, the Son of God !” This is the day which Daniel predicted. Sixty-nine heptads had passed by, and the scribes, at least, should have known that Prince Messiah would present Himself to the people on that day ( Dan_9:25 ). But they did not expect Him or prepare for Him, so He leaves them until sore affliction shall have taught the nation to say “Blessed is He Who is coming in the name of the Lord.” This is the secret of Israel's present plight. Through discipline they are being prepared for their Messiah. Their sorest trials are yet to come.

4-5 Compare Joh_12:12-19 .

5 See Zec_9:9 .

8 See Lev_23:40 .

9 Compare Psa_118:25-26 .

10 Compare Mar_11:11 .

12-17 Compare Mar_11:15-19 ; Luk_19:45-48 . See Joh_2:13-17 .

Verses 12-30

12 His first act as King was to cleanse the temple of idolatry, for covetousness is nothing less ( Col_3:5 ). The temple tax, or double drachma ( Mat_17:24 ) had to be paid by even the poorest of the people. Collectors were in each city and in the sanctuary. They began a few weeks before the Passover. The brokers made change at a profit to themselves. They were in the court of the nations, or gentiles, which was added by Herod outside the sanctuary proper. In this, proselytes of other nations might approach with gifts and worship and prayer. It was never intended for a merchant's store ( Joh_2:16 ), or a broker's bank. It was a place for God to give, not for man to rob. The two cleansings of the sanctuary are typical of the two appearances of Christ. The first ( Joh_2:13-22 ), Was priestly in its nature, and is connected with His death and resurrection ( Joh_2:19 ). It is found only in John's account. The second follows His presentation as Messiah.

The sullen, yet silent submission of these robbers is mute evidence of the moral majesty and might with which He did this deed. Violent passion on His part would have been met by physical force, and caused His undoing. It was the righteous wrath of the Shekinah glory overawing these idolaters which made them flee from the sublime Presence.

13 See Isa_56:7 ; Jer_7:11 .

14 Having cleansed the sacred precincts, He puts them to their proper use by restoring blind eyes and healing lame legs, so that they can behold the holiness of God and walk in His ways.

15 The chief priests and scribes, however, are not healed. They are too blind to see Him and too lame to keep from stumbling. The little children put them to shame.

16 Compare Psa_8:2 , Septuagint. See Joh_12:17-19 .

18-19 Compare Mar_11:12-14 .

19 The fig, the olive, and the vine present varied views of the kingdom. Perhaps we should include the bramble also, as Jotham did in his parable ( Jud_9:8-15 ). The bramble is that false flare of authority exercised by great Babylon, which has a kingdom over the kings of the earth ( Rev_17:18 ). The vine speaks of that which cheers the heart of God and man. Then will be joy. The olive speaks of light. The fig brings before us its goodness and sweetness. It is national in its scope, and is in contrast with Rome, represented by the wild fig tree ( Luk_17:6 ). Israel's doom is sealed. It is like a fig tree with leaves but no fruit. The fig tree forms some of its fruit before its leaves, unless it is barren. This fig tree had evidently anticipated the season, and put forth its leaves very early. So were Israel's national pretensions. The Lord's first coming was premature. They made a beautiful show of national righteousness, but there was no genuine reality to their claims. The doom of the fig tree is the doom of the nation. It was withered. But today its branch is tender and it is trying to put forth leaves. In the kingdom it will bear an abundance of luscious fruit.

20-21 Compare Mar_11:20-26 .

21 See Mat_17:20 ; Luk_17:6 ; Jam_1:6 ; 1Co_13:2 .

21 Faith is not confidence in the fulfillment of our prayers, but of God's word. He had promised that the mountain of gentile supremacy should be moved from the midst of Israel. Had they believed Him , it should have occurred. Faith can move no mountains that God has not promised to move. It is His pleasure to accomplish far greater feats in fellowship with the faith of His saints.

22 See Mat_7:7 ; Jam_5:16 ; 1Jn_3:22 ; 1Jn_5:14 .

23-27 Compare Mar_11:27-33 ; Luk_20:1-8 .

23 The chief priests and elders imagined that they were the supreme spiritual authority in Israel. They should have been. When they challenged Him to present His credentials, He exposes theirs by asking a simple question. Had their authority been from above they would have believed John the baptist. That it was from beneath is clear from their fawning at the feet of the populace. The high priest should have been the eldest of the line of Aaron, tracing his priestly prerogatives back to the law. Instead he was appointed by political parties and Roman procurators.

26 See Mat_14:5 ; Mar_6:20 .

28 This parable was for the priests and elders. They made the greatest protestation of obeying the will of God, but did not do it. The sinners who made no profession, whom they despised, actually obeyed God's precept. By His parable He makes the leaders pronounce their own condemnation.

Verses 31-46

31 See Luk_7:29-30 .

32 See Mat_3:1 ; Luk_3:12 .

32 The Lord now proceeds to show them His authority and to expose their abuse of the privileges entrusted to them. They were mere tenants of God's vineyard; He was the Owner's Son. Their predecessors had claimed such authority as they were arrogating to themselves.

That is why the prophets were persecuted. These men and almost all of the rulers in Israel, whether kings or priests, chiefs or scribes, sought to use the nation for their own profit and not for the glory God. Had they been faithful, no prophets would have been sent to them. They would have delivered to the Owner of the vineyard the joy and cheer which were His by right. Because they did not do this, because the priesthood was apostate and the rulers rebellious, He raised up men of God to remind them of their obligations to Himself. Israel boasted in Elijah and all the prophets, which were the badge their shame. Moreover, their treatment of the prophets confirmed their apostate condition, for none of them escaped persecution at their hands. But by far the most memorable part of the parable is the prediction of the rejection of His authority and His subsequent murder at their hands. That it was possible for them to proceed in their program of putting Him to death after He had given them this preview of their appalling crime proves the utter depravity of the priesthood, the hopeless immorality of religion when its light has become darkness, and its life turned to death.

33-41 Compare Mar_12:1-9 ; Luk_20:9-16 . See Psa_80:8-16 ; Son_8:11-12 ; Isa_5:1-7 .

35 See Mat_5:12 ; Mat_23:37 ; 2Ch_24:18-21 ; 2Ch_36:15-17 ; Neh_9:26 ; Act_7:52 ; 1Th_2:15 .

39 See Mat_26:50 ; Act_2:23 .

41 See Luk_21:24 .

41 As before, they pronounce their own doom. In the kingdom their rule will be replaced by the sway of the twelve apostles under the Priest-King Whose authority they had dared to question. Then the Lord will enjoy the fruit of His vineyard.

42-46 Compare Mar_12:10-12 ; Luk_20:17-19 . See Psa_118:22-23 ; Act_4:11 ; 1Pe_2:6 .

42 Not long after this these same chief priests and those with them question Peter's authority.

He confirms the word here spoken by our Lord. “If we today are being examined as to the benefaction to the infirm man, by what he has been saved, let it be known to you all and to the entire people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus Christ, the Nazarene, Whom you crucify, Whom God rouses from among the dead, by this One, this man stands by before you sound. This is the Stone that is being scorned by you builders, which is becoming the Head of the corner” ( Act_4:9-11 ). Yet even this double witness fails to move their hard hearts to repentance.

44 See Isa_8:14-15 ; Rom_9:33 ; 1Pe_2:8 ; Dan_2:34-35 ; Dan_2:44-45 .

45 So long as the chief priests did not fear God the mob did not fear them and had small respect for their authority. Who fears not God fears man. The priests were in an impossible position. Between Pilate and the populace their vaunted authority practically vanished. All they could do was to appeal to Pilate and persuade the people.

1-9 Compare Luk_14:15-24 .

1 This parable should never be used to illustrate the evangel of today. In the first place, none of the nations are called to the wedding in this economy. It will take place in the kingdom, to which we are not invited. Neither is any one invited in the evangel today and subsequently rejected because of unworthiness. That is true of Israel as a nation, to whom our Lord is speaking. The parable refers to the various proclamations of the kingdom. The first was made by the apostles while He was still with them. It had been rejected when our Lord was speaking. The second was made in the Pentecostal era, after all preparations had been made by the sacrifice of Christ. That, too, is rejected, and calls for the destruction of Jerusalem. The last proclamation is still future, when the Lord will deal in judgment and compel them to come in. The apparel at such weddings was provided by the host. God will provide His people with a righteousness in that day. No one can remain, in his own righteousness. It must be noted that this is quite a distinct figure from that of the bride. Those who accept the invitation here are the guests. The bride does not appear in the picture and should be left entirely out of view in the interpretation. The same saints who are elsewhere seen under the figure of the bride are here seen under the figure of guests, because the truth here is judgment rather than love, and could not be developed in the closer relationship. The main point is that those invited, or called, are not necessarily chosen. In the proclamation of the kingdom in our Lord's day and in the Pentecostal era many were invited, but few chosen. Some, in that day, came at first, and were latter rejected because they fell away. The last invitation by no means goes out to the gentiles. It goes out in the same city. The parable of the virgins ( Mat_25:1 ) takes up the relation of the other nations to Israel in the kingdom.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Matthew 21". Concordant Commentary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/aek/matthew-21.html. 1968.
 
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