BIBLE: Matthew Chapter 21 – Headline “Dead Men Can’t See”

Words in italic type have been added for clarity. They are not found in the original Hebrew or Aramaic.

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Matthew 21

What should I learn from this chapter?

  • Why Jesus taught in Parables
  • The significance of the Parables
  • The significance of Mt. Olives
  • The conflict between Jesus and the leaders of the Jews
  • The prophetic message Jesus gave to the nation
  • Matthew 21 parallels John 12
  • Why Jesus rode the colt of a donkey into Jerusalem

The Triumphal Entry

Matthew 21:1 Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to (Bethsphage) Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples,
  • In Hebrew Jerusalem means “City of Peace”
  • When Jesus returns to earth His foot will land on the Mount of Olives:
    • Zechariah 14:4 And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, From east to west, Making a very large valley; Half of the mountain shall move toward the north And half of it toward the south.
  • Prior to His return All believers will meet Him in the air, both the living and the dead:
    • 1 Thessalonians 4:17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Matthew 21:2 saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me.
  • Note: Jesus asked for both the donkey and its colt.
Matthew 21:3 And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.”
Matthew 21:4 All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:
Matthew 21:5 “Tell the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your King is coming to you,
Lowly, and sitting on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ”
  • Zechariah 9:9 [The Coming King] “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.

In the ancient Biblical world, a leader rode on a horse if he was coming in war but a donkey to signify peace.

Matthew 21:6 So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them.
Matthew 21:7 They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, (and He sat) and set Him on them.
Matthew 21:8 And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
  • The following historical account provides cultural insight on the meaning of spreading palm leaves in the road when Cyrus conquered Babylon in 539 BC:
  • “The Persian Army conquered the outlying areas of the city’s interior while a majority of Babylonians at the city center were oblivious to the breach. When the upper city gates were opened, General Gubaru’s troops poured into the city without any resistance from the Babylonian army.On October 29th 539 BC history would have its most peaceful military conquest of a major imperial city. Cyrus himself did not actually enter the gates of the city for over a month. On November 9, 539 BC, he rode through the Ishtar Gate while the masses of the city layered a pathway of green twigs welcoming him with their sign of peace and honor, acknowledgment and acceptance that he is king.”
Matthew 21:9 Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:
“Hosanna to the Son of David!
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Hosanna in the highest!”
  • The word hosanna means “save, rescue, savior”.  In the Hebrew Bible it is used only in verses such as “help” or “save, I pray” (Psalms 118:25).
Matthew 21:10 And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?”
Matthew 21:11 So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”
  • Jesus asked “who do people say that I AM?” Peter answered in Matthew 16:16 “You are the Christ (Jewish Messiah), the Son of the living God.” Jesus responded “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”
  • But according to Matthew 21:11 the multitudes called Jesus a prophet. They did not understand He was the Son of God and their Messiah.

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

Matthew 21:12 Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.
Matthew 21:13 And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ”
  • Isaiah 56:7 Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
Matthew 21:14 Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them.
Matthew 21:15 But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were (angry) indignant (incensed!).
  • The leaders of the Jews felt their entire understanding of politics, power, and religion being turned upside down. They were about to be replaced with that which they portended to worship. He didn’t fit their perceived role of their Messiah because they could never comprehend that He could be a humble servant, in spite of his supernatural works.

The people were calling Him the Son of David: this refers specifically to the Messiah.

  • The leaders were the keepers of God’s word. Now they are being called white washed tombs and a pit of vipers. They hated Him.
  • His presence is threatening not only to them, but to the nation’s relationship with Rome. The people are actually welcoming Him as a king! The leaders would be called on the floor to give account for the upheaval. Prophetically, they decide to kill Him in order to save the nation.
  • John 11:50 nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.”
Matthew 21:16 and said to Him, “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’?”
  • Psalm 8:2 Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.
  • Babies and nursing infants are not scholars but believe.
  • The Pharisees and Scribes were scholars but unbelieving.
Matthew 21:17 Then He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and He lodged there.

The Fig Tree Withered

Matthew 21:18 Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry.
Matthew 21:19 And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away.
  • NOTE: Throughout scripture a fig tree is symbolic of Israel. In this verse, it is prophetic of a nation which does not bear fruit. Therefore Jesus cursed it.

The Lesson of the Withered Fig Tree

Matthew 21:20 And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?”
Matthew 21:21 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done.
  • A mountain is symbolic of a kingdom. Prayers can remove bad governments, specifically, the government of the Antichrist.
Matthew 21:22 And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

Jesus’ Authority Questioned

Matthew 21:23 Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?”
  • Who are they to be asking by what authority Jesus teaches? Jesus should be asking them about their authority.
  • Imagine the arrogance of asking the Creator of the heavens and the earth about His authority.
Matthew 21:24 But Jesus answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things:
Matthew 21:25 The baptism of John—where was it from? From heaven or from men?”

Jesus turns the tables on them. Throughout scripture God turns the tables on Satan. Satan was instrumental in having Jesus killed. Instead, He raised Himself from the dead.

And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’
Matthew 21:26 But if we say, ‘From men,’ we fear the multitude, for all count John as a prophet.”
Matthew 21:27 So they answered Jesus and said, “We do not know.”
And He said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.

The Parable of the Two Sons

At this point, Jesus begins talking in Parables. Parables are used as a judgment against the Jews who refuse to believe Him. He does not cast His pearls of wisdom before the feet of those who act like pigs against Him.

  • Matthew 7:6 “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

Judgment on unbelieving Israel. Withholding mysteries. The same with tongues which are words they cannot understand.

Matthew 21:28 “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’
Matthew 21:29 He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went.
Matthew 21:30 Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go.
Matthew 21:31 Which of the two did the will of his father?”
They said to Him, “The first.”
Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you.

Tax collectors and harlots are the bottom of the Jewish pecking order. Jesus has reassigned their perceived pecking order.

Matthew 21:32 For John came to you in The Way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward (regret it) relent and believe him.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

The Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers

Matthew 21:33 “Hear another parable: There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country.
Matthew 21:34 Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit.

The servants are prophets God sent to the leaders of the Jews who were to be the vinedressers for the Jewish nation.

Matthew 21:35 And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another.
Matthew 21:36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them.
Matthew 21:37 Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’

As Jesus speaks, He is speaking of Himself.

Matthew 21:38 But when the vinedressers (Jewish Leaders) saw the son (Son), they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir (the One who is to rule over Israel). Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance (reign).’
Matthew 21:39 So they took him (Jesus) and cast him out of the vineyard (outside the city) and killed (crucified) him.
Matthew 21:40 “Therefore, when the owner (the Father) of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers (Jewish leaders)?”
Matthew 21:41 They said to Him, “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render (give) to him the fruits in their seasons.”

The chief priests and the elders of the people just condemned themselves.

Matthew 21:42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
‘The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
This was the Lord’s doing,
And it is marvelous in our eyes’?

‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’? lsaiah 28:16

According to Wikipedia the cornerstone is also known as a foundation stone, The cornerstone concept is derived from the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure.

Nowhere, perhaps, does the equivalence of the shadow to the life or soul come out more clearly than in some customs practiced to this day in South-eastern Europe.

In modern Greece, when the foundation of a new building is being laid, it is the custom to kill a cock, a ram, or a lamb, and to let its blood flow on the foundation-stone, under which the animal is afterwards buried. The object of the sacrifice is to give strength and stability to the building.” pedia.orglwiki/Cornerstone

Christ is the perfect sacrifice to stabilize his Church, the body of Christ!

“Except the Lord build the house, in vain do they labor that build it”. Ps L27

The wise man builds his house upon The Rock!

The rock that is cut out without hands, the cornerstone. Matt 7:25, Dan 2:34

Matthew 21:43 “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.

The kingdom of God will be taken from the fig tree (Israel) and given to a (gentile) nation bearing the fruits of it. Refer to Matt 21:19

How did they receive that statement?

Matthew 21:44 And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.”
Matthew 21:45 Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived (knew) that He was speaking of them.

They did not receive the warnings of His words.

Matthew 21:46 But when they sought to lay hands on Him, they feared the multitudes, because they (the multitudes) took Him for a prophet.

Truth is always offensive to sinners.

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