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Bible Commentaries

Brown's Commentary on the New Testament

Matthew 21

  1. Introduction
    (Read) Matthew 20:17-19
    1. Early disciples learned not to question Jesus
      1. Feeding the multitudes with five loaves and two fish (see John 6:5-14)
      2. "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch" (Luke 5:4; see also Luke 5:1-10)
      3. Coin in the mouth of the fish to pay taxes (see Matthew 7:24-27)
      4. Just do it!
    2. Buzz Word for us: “Compromise”

Verses 1-9

  1. Triumphal Entry
    Matthew 21:1-9 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.
    1. To us…IS HE THE MESSIAH?
    2. ….is HE LORD?
    3. ….is HE GOD?
    4. Setting
      1. Triumphal entry into Jerusalem
      2. Final week of Jesus' life
      3. 2/5 of Matthew's gospel dedicated to the final week of Jesus life and the cross
      4. Jesus came from Galilee, crossed the Jordan river to Perea (modern-day Jordan)
      5. Engaged in ministry there several months
      6. Goes up to Jerusalem through Jericho, up the Mount of Olives
      7. Through Bethany (where Lazarus, Mary, and Martha lived) and Bethpage (house of figs) outside the old city walls
    5. His Entry
      1. Mentioned in all four gospels
      2. Noteworthy
        1. God wants us to apprehend it
        2. Said two times for emphasis; e.g., "Verily, verily"
        3. Said three times; e.g., "Holy, holy, holy" (Isaiah 6:3)
        4. Said four times, He really wants us to understand it
    6. Passover
      1. Up to five times the population in Jerusalem (according to Josephus)
      2. One year, 256,000 lambs slaughtered (according to Josephus)
      3. 10 people per lamb
      4. Population 2.5 million people
      5. Crowded
      6. Sometimes Jesus stayed in Jerusalem with Lazarus, Martha, and Mary
      7. Sometimes Jesus stayed in the open
      8. Garden of Gethsemane
      9. Often went to pray
      10. Every Jew's dream to celebrate in Jerusalem
      11. At the end of the Seder: "Next year, in Jerusalem!"
      12. לשנה הבאה בירושלים; Leshana haba'ah b'Yerushalayim
    7. Palm Sunday
      1. ​​​​​​​10th of Nisan
        1. ​​​​​​​ Select a lamb
        2. Prepare it for sacrifice
      2. Hosanna
        1. ​​​​​​​ Crowds shouted “Hosanna”
        2. Deliver! Save now! Do for us what religion cannot do! You are Messiah! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord
          1. A few days later they will shout, "Crucify Him!"
            1. ​​​​​​​Jesus didn't give them what they wanted
            2. Physical deliverance from Rome
            3. Not a crucified Savior, dying for their sins
    8. Donkey
      1. ​​​​​​​Fulfill prophecy: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey." (Zechariah 9:9)
      2. Kings, when fighting or battle won, came on a white horse
      3. Kings, when peace or offering peace, ride a donkey like common people
      4. Jesus' first coming in peace on a donkey
      5. Jesus' second coming make war and judge, stop rebellion on a white horse
    9. Prophecy
      1. ​​​​​​​Daniel 9:24-27
      2. Prediction made from the date the command to rebuild would be given
      3. 483 years: 69 weeks
      4. Hebrew: - seventy sevens
        1. ​​​​​​​The Coming Prince, by Sir Robert Anderson
        2. Head of criminal investigations at Scotland Yard
        3. Artaxerxes Longimanus command to build city: March 14, 445 BC
        4. 483 years forward based on Babylonian calendar of 360 days (not Julian 365-day calendar)
        5. 173,8880 days
        6. April 6, 32 AD, the 10th of Nissan
        7. Jesus fulfilled Zechariah 9:9

Verses 10-13

  1. House of Prayer
    Matthew 21:10-13 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.
    1. Rightful Authority
      1. "Be angry, and do not sin" (Ephesians 4:26)
      2. Exercising His rightful authority as Messiah
      3. "He is like a refiner's fire and like launderer's soap." (Malachi 3:2)
    2. Setting
      1. People came from far away, sometimes without an animal to sacrifice
      2. They may not have the right currency
      3. Animals were sold for an exorbitant price
      4. Only the temple coin or Galilean shekel were accepted
        1. ​​​​​​​Interest equal to two hours work for the common laborer was charged
        2. Every ½ shekel cost that rate of interest
      5. Extorting people's desire to worship God
      6. Rabbinical school taught to recognize clean or unclean animals
        1. ​​​​​​​18 months on a farm
        2. Called clean animals unclean
        3. Forced to buy a sacrifice at the temple
    3. Jesus not meek and mild with them
      1. ​​​​​​​"Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, look upon a little child"—John Wesley
      2. He was meek and lowly in heart to some (Mat 11:28-30)
      3. Not to hypocrites
      4. When the holiness of God was at stake, He was gentle no longer
      5. "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" (Revelation 6:17)
      6. "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you have made it a 'den of thieves.' " Quoting Jeremiah 7
        1. Temple Sermon of Jeremiah
        2. Don't trust in lying vanities
        3. Religious people hiding behind rituals and place of worship
        4. Application
          1. Do you follow Jesus?
          2. Are you born again
          3. Ritual can hide a wicked heart
          4. Religious observance can make you feel good about yourself
        5. Quit bringing sacrifices; sick of it! (See Isaiah 1:11-15)
        6. God desires authentic worship

Verses 14-16

  1. Worthy of Our Praise?
    Matthew 21:14-16 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?
    1. Children learned from their parents
      1. Children and grandchildren are watching our attitude toward the Lord
      2. Repeating what their parents said the day before
      3. Be careful how you live and what you say
    2. Psalms 118:25-26 Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. 26 Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD.
    3. Psalm 8:2: "Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength"

Verses 17-22

  1. Introduction
    (Read) Matthew 21:17-20
    1. Triumphal Entry
    2. Cleared the Temple > My house shall be called a house of Prayer!
    3. Jesus is worthy of all of our praise!
  2. The Fig Tree
    1. Israel
      Matthew 21:17-20
      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!
      1. Fig tree a picture of Israel…not bearing any fruit. …this is Jesus’ first expression of judgment!
      2. “Leaves only” – it looked good on the outside but the inside wasn’t bearing anything for Christ
      3. (Guzik) the tree was a picture of “false advertising” -- experience someone’s behavior as they are “ACTING” a part (like being a Christian) but get to know them and see that they are not what they “PORTRAYED” !
      4. How important it is that we be genuine in our faith and in our walk so that we might Glorify our Father in Heaven!
    2. Prayer
      Matthew 21:21-22
      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.
      1. Context: Matthew 16:24-26 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
      2. Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane: “Not my will but Thy will be done…”

Verses 23-32

  1. Who’s Authority?
    1. John’s Baptism
      Matthew 21:23-27 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.
      1. Context: “What authority do you have to clear the temple?”
        1. John: (John 1:6-9) There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
        2. If they believe him…they must acknowledge Jesus as Messiah!
          1. ​​​​​​​(John 1:29) The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
      2. Pharisees were afraid:
        1. ​​​​​​​Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.
        2. Psalms 118:8 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.
    2. Parable of the Two Sons
      Matthew 21:28-32 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.
      1. The parable is against the Chief Priests and elders (v23)
      2. The publicans and the harlots were the son who said, "no" to the kingdom of God.
        1. ​​​​​​​They were the ones who were living in sin and turned their backs upon God.
        2. But they were the ones who later repented, and went out, and served.
        3. Whereas the Pharisees are those who render to God lip service, "Oh, I'll go; yes sir" and they render to God only lip service, but did not really serve God, only lip service.
      3. Which one really does the will of God?
        1. ​​​​​​​Joel 2:13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
        2. The ones who “DO” the will of my Father
          1. Matthew 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
        3. God isn’t into Lip Service!

Verses 33-46

  1. Christ the Solid Rock
    1. Parable of the Vineyard
      Matthew 21:33-41 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.
      1. Isaiah 5:1-7 Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: 2 And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. 3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. 4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? 5 And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: 6 And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. 7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.
      2. This was a common passage to the Jews…they immediately knew to whom Jesus was speaking!
      3. What will happen to the Jews who reject Christ? The same thing that happens to all who reject Him…
        1. John 3:17-18 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
    2. The Chief Cornerstone
      Matthew 21:42-46 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.
      1. Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
      2. 1 John 2:15-17 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
Copyright Statement
Brown's Commentary on the New Testament is reproduced by permission of author. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Brown, Jim. "Commentary on Matthew 21". "Brown's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnc/matthew-21.html. 2017.