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Monday, June 24th, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 21

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


As they approached Jerusalem. Jesus went through Jericho, where he healed two blind men, and set Zacchaeus free from sin. Coming up the mountain pass to Jerusalem, he stopped at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in Bethany, stayed there during the Sabbath [Saturday], and on Sunday morning, made his Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. As they approached Jerusalem, they went up the Mount of Olives. There were three paths over the Mount of Olives: (1) on the north, in the hollow between two peaks of the hill; (2) over the main peak; (3) on the south, between the Mount of Olives and the Hill of Offence. This is the path Jesus took. To Bethphage. Bethphage and Bethany were suburban villages close to each other, and on the direct line of travel from Jericho to Jerusalem. Mount of Olives. Named for the Olive trees on it. A hill, just east of Jerusalem, a “public park.”

Verse 2


Go to the village. Bethphage. You will find a donkey tied up there. These very useful animals were a common means of transportation. But more important, every Jew expected the Messiah to come riding into Jerusalem on a young donkey (Zechariah 9:9).

Verse 3


The Master needs them. The owner was likely a follower of Christ.

Verses 4-7


This happened to make come true. The prophecy of Isaiah 62:11 and Zechariah 9:9. Both the donkey and the colt were brought, but John 12:15 speaks of Jesus riding only the young colt. Only animals that had never been ridden were thought of as being proper for holy uses [Numbers 19:2 :1 Samuel 6:7]. (1) The animal was borrowed. (2) He rode without a saddle, using borrowed cloaks. (3) It was on a young donkey [a colt] which had never been ridden before.

Verse 8


A great crowd of people spread their cloaks. The Law required the Jewish people to gather in Jerusalem for the Passover. Josephus, the historian, says a few million people would be there. Some thousands of Galileans who had seen Jesus perform miracles would be there, and they thought of him as the Messiah-King. Spreading their cloaks on the road was a way of showing honor and praise. Cut branches from the trees. Palm fronds (John 12:13). These would form a soft, level carpet. They were symbolic of joy after victory (Revelation 7:9).

Verse 9


Praise to David’s Son. Declaring that Jesus is the Messiah! In the name of the Lord. Partly from Psalms 118:25-26, a song of praise used at the close of Passover, and at the Feast of Tabernacles. This was used commonly to speak of the Messiah.

Verse 10


The whole city was thrown in an uproar. At this point Jesus could have proclaimed himself King, with the popular support of the people, and the Pharisees and teachers of the Law would have been powerless against him. Yet he came to die as our “sin offering” (Luke 9:31; Hebrews 9:15); and his Kingdom was spiritual (Luke 19:11; John 18:36).

Verse 11


This is the prophet Jesus. Only his disciples knew his true identity as the Son of God [the people did not expect the Messiah to be Divine]. The Galileans believed Jesus to be the Prophet spoken about by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:18.

Verse 12


Jesus went into the temple. On the following day (Mark 11:11). This is the second time Jesus made the temple ritually pure. [The other time was at the beginning of his ministry (John 2:13-17).] Drove out all those. Animals for sacrifice were bought and sold inside the temple [in the court of the Gentiles]. This was not proper for them to do. Tables of the moneychangers. The Greek and Roman money in common use, would not be accepted by the priests. They required only Jewish coins to be used: (1) to buy animals, etc., for offering and sacrifices; (2) as a gift to the temple treasury; (3) to pay the half-shekel temple tax [see note on Matthew 17:24]. This exchange of money made the priests a fortune, because it gave them a chance to cheat the people. Pigeons. See Luke 2:24.

Verse 13


It is written. Isaiah 56:7. A house of prayer. A holy place for worship. A hideout for thieves. It is a sin to use religion as a money making scheme (1 Timothy 6:5).

Verse 14


The blind and the crippled. These people followed Jesus, hoping he would heal them.

Verse 15


The chief priests and the teachers of the Law. These arch-enemies of Jesus were angry because of what he had done in the temple, and because the people were praising him.

Verse 16


Do you hear what they are saying? They vent their anger against the children, because they think this will cause them the least amount of trouble. Indeed I do. He scolds all who despise children. He quotes Psalms 8:2. The praise of little children is pure and perfect.

Verse 17


Jesus left them. It was not safe for him to spend the night in Jerusalem. He goes to Bethany, about two miles east.

Verse 18


On his way back to the city. Having spent the night in Bethany. This is early Monday morning.

Verse 19


He saw a fig tree. Fig trees bear fruit first, then leaves. Fruit would form as early as February and be fully ripe as early as April. Mark says: “because it was not the right time for figs.” But although it was too early for fruit, it was too early for leaves also, and the leaves should have been proof of fruit. You will never again bear fruit. Peter calls this a curse (Mark 11:21). The next day it was dead all the way down to the roots (Mark 11:20). This was a parable about the Jewish nation which had “leaves,” but no “fruit.” It too would be cursed and die (Matthew 23:29-36).

Verses 21-22


If you believe! See note on Matthew 17:20. However, belief and prayer cannot be used for selfish purposes.

Verse 23


Jesus came back to the temple. This was on Tuesday, after the lesson at the fig tree. What right do you have? The chief priests, the Jewish elders (Mark and Luke add; the teachers of the Law), ask him what right he has to do these things—such as purifying the temple the day before.

Verse 24


I will ask you just one question. Jesus answers them with a question which will expose their motives.

Verses 25-26


Where did John’s right to baptize come from? These leaders had not received John’s baptism, even though the people had done so. They argued among themselves about the consequences of saying “From God,” or “From men.”

Verse 27


We don’t know. These leaders could neither admit John’s authority nor deny his words. Neither will I tell you. Jesus will not allow them to decide the question of his authority, when they say they do not know the origin of John’s mission.

Verses 28-31


Now, what do you think? He calls their attention to something which they will be required to answer. There was a man. The two sons stand for the Jewish leaders and the Jewish people. Both groups of people were told to work in the vineyard. The “sinners” [common people, tax collectors, prostitutes, etc.] had said no, but turned from sin when they heard John, and did what the Lord told them to do. The leaders had said yes, but did not do it, and did not listen to John. The tax collectors and the prostitutes. The very worst of the common people believed John and came to God.

Verse 32


Even when you saw this. They saw the crowds who came to John and believed what he said; yet they would not be sorry for their unbelief and change their minds.

Verse 33


Listen to another parable. This also scolds the Jewish leaders for their unbelief. There was a landowner. God. The details of the parable show how he had worked with Israel. Who planted a vineyard. He placed Israel in the rich land of Palestine. Put a fence around it. The Law which preserved the identity of Israel. Dug a hole for the winepress. Two tub-shaped holes. Grapes were put in the higher one, crushed by walking on them with bare feet, the juice then running out a hole in the side into the lower of the two holes. The winepress is used to harvest the grapes. Built a watchtower. Where guards could keep out intruders. Then he rented the vineyard. The Jewish leaders are the tenants. Left home on a trip. God gave Israel time, to see what they Would do with his blessings.

Verse 34


When the time came. No special time, but symbolic of harvest. To receive his share. The rent for the use of the vineyard. The slaves were the prophets of old, whom God sent to his people Israel.

Verse 35


The tenants grabbed his slaves. The central idea of the whole parable is that the Jewish leaders rejected everyone whom God sent to them. Some of the prophets they did murder (See Matthew 23:29-31).

Verse 36


Again the man sent other slaves. Compare Hebrews 11:35-38. God sent many prophets, kings, and holy men in his name.

Verse 37


Last of all he sent them his son. This was God’s final offer of mercy to them. [Mercy was offered through Christ’s DEATH—Hebrews 9:15. This is the greatest of heaven’s wealth; it is the fulness of their sin—Matthew 23:35-36.]

Verse 38


Let us kill him. They made plans to kill him (John 11:53). If they could kill the son, they thought the vineyard would be theirs to keep.

Verse 39


So they grabbed him. This is his prophecy that the very men he is speaking to will kill him.

Verses 40-41


What will he do to those tenants? They are so wrapped up in what Jesus says, that they answer without seeing they are the guilty ones. He will certainly kill those evil men. They make a prediction themselves, without knowing it. Josephus, the Jewish historian, says the Jewish Nation was nearly wiped out in the war with Rome. He records that 1,100,000 people died in the siege of Jerusalem [70 A.D.]. To other tenants. The Gentiles. See Acts 15:14-21; Ephesians 2:19-22.

Verse 42


The very stone which the builders rejected. Psalms 118:22-23. This speaks of a stone being thrown aside by the builders, who then discover it is the most important stone, the key-stone of the foundation. The “cornerstone” joined together two walls. Alford (Greek Testament) thinks this speaks of the union of Jews and Gentiles in Christ’s church. This was done by the Lord. God gives the authority to the most important stone.

Verse 43


The Kingdom of God will be taken away from you. This is what they had predicted unknowingly (Matthew 21:40-41). God was rejecting the first covenant, and making a new covenant for those who believed. See Hebrews 8:7-13.

Verse 44


Whoever falls on this stone. Those who will not confess him as Messiah. “We proclaim Christ on the cross, a message that is offensive to the Jews and nonsense to the Gentiles” [1 Corinthians 1:23]. And if the stone falls on someone. The wrath of Christ in the judgment which was the siege of Jerusalem. Also that Day when Christ the Lamb will judge in wrath from the Great White Throne. See Revelation 6:15-17.

Verses 45-46


Knew that he was talking about them. So they tried to arrest him, but there were too many people who still thought of Jesus as The Prophet who Moses had predicted.

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Matthew 21". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/matthew-21.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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