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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 21

Box's Commentaries on Selected Books of the BibleBox on Selected Books

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The Finish Was In Sight

Matthew Twenty-One

Jesus' had predicted that His earthly life would end with His death on the cross, burial, resurrection, post resurrection appearances and His ascension to Heaven. Matthew twenty-one begins that last phase in Jesus' earthly mission. Soon He would say from the cross "It is finished." These are the things Jesus came to this earth to accomplish. This is simply the carrying out of God's eternal plan.

Matthew twenty-one gives the account of how Jesus was praised as He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. The people put their cloths on the donkey and set Jesus thereon. The "great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way." Matthew said that they cried out, "Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest."

Jesus was faithful to the heavenly Father and He was also busy teaching until the finish. Some of His greatest lessons were those that were "Taught when the finish was in sight." He taught (1) The Lord has need of what you have, (2) Be humane in your dealings with others, (3) Do not pretend, but practice Christianity, (4) Respect God's authority, (5) Do not allow your life to hinder those that would enter the kingdom, and (6) Receive God's Son and honor Him in all of your life.

Verses 1-17

With the finish in sight Jesus entered Jerusalem and cleansed the temple Mat_21:1-17 : One of the great statements from this section concerned the donkey and colt, "The Lord has need of them." Your hands, your eyes, your feet, and your heart -- "the Lord has need of them!" Another great statement that was made in connection with Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem from Bethany (Bethphage) is "So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them." ( Mat_21:6 ) Just think what could happen today if we would go and do as the Master commanded? Jesus was welcomed to Jerusalem with the words of Psa_118:26 . "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." The people shouted "Hosanna" (Save us now!) Christ came as the Prince of peace to conquer the hearts of the humble.

Jesus drove out those that bought and sold in God's sacred place (the Temple). He said, "It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves." ( Mat_21:13 ) Jesus was angry with those that exploited their fellow human beings. No doubt the heart of God grieves today at the much exploitation of men by their fellow men. Jesus drove out the guilty while the needy remained and received His help. "Then the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and He healed them." ( Mat_21:14 ) It is of vital interest to notice that even at this point in Jesus' life children are still involved. "Do You hear what these are saying? And Jesus said to them, yes. Have you never read, out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants you have perfected praise?" ( Mat_21:16 )

Verses 18-22

With the finish in sight Jesus caused a fig tree to wither Mat_21:18-22 : The fig tree is unique in that the fruit and the leaves come at the same time. Mark wrote, "For the fig season had not yet come." ( Mar_11:13 ) The fruit tree was hypocritical. It professed fruit but bore none. Each person should be useful to God. The fig tree was useless. Therefore, it was caused to wither away. God wanted action not talk or pretense! Jesus also used the withered fig tree to teach the apostles a great lesson on prayer. "Whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." ( Mat_21:22 )

God comes to many so-called disciples, seeking fruit, and finding only leaves. His grace and blessing will be removed from that life where a person continues to be unfruitful. Peter said that Jesus cursed the fig tree. ( Mar_11:21 ) Obviously He did not use profanity against it. Instead He doomed the tree to death and it withered. The tree literally "dried up from the roots." ( Mar_11:20 ) This was a vivid illustration of how the fruitless Jewish nation would wither away spiritually.

Verses 23-32

With the finish in sight Jesus taught about authority and repentance Mat_21:23-32 : The chief priest and elders confronted Jesus with questions about His authority. "By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave You this authority?" ( Mat_21:23 ) He answered their questions by saying "I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: The baptism of John, where was it from? From heaven or from men?" ( Mat_21:24-25 ) They would not answer Jesus. His question is still valid -- "From heaven or from men?" Ask that question about (1) Sprinkling for baptism, "From heaven or from men?" (2) The doctrine of once saved always saved, "From heaven or from men?" (3) Instrumental music in worship and a host of other religious matters -- "From heaven or from men?" Accept that which is from heaven; reject that which is from men.

Repentance is a change of mind or heart followed by a change of action. This is illustrated by the son that at first said "no" but later repented (regretted it) and went. ( Mat_21:29 ) Jesus used this parable of the two sons to teach the chief priests, elders and all that promise God but do not perform. "Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. 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." ( Mat_21:31-32 )

Verses 33-46

With the finish in sight Jesus spoke of God's goodness and desire to save Mat_21:33-46 : "The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the House of Israel." ( Isa_5:7 ) God had entrusted His vineyard to men. They were responsible for it. The abuse of Israel's religious freedoms led her far away from both God and truth.

Those in charge of the vineyard even killed the Son of the owner. "But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, this is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance. So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him." ( Mat_21:38-39 ) But, thank God, "this stone which the builders rejected is become the chief corner-stone." This parable shows God's goodness and His desire to save and also it shows how wicked and deliberate man can be in his sins.

Bibliographical Information
Box, Charles. "Commentary on Matthew 21". "Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/box/matthew-21.html. 2014.
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