The Triumphal Entry of Jesus: 21:1-17.
(Read Matt 21:1-17)
Jesus entered Jerusalem as the long-awaited Messiah. He and his disciples came to Bethphage, a village near Bethany. He sent two of his disciples to a village to get a donkey tied with its colt beside it. Jesus said “If anyone asks what you are doing, just say the Lord has need of them”. This was a fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9. His riding on an ass’s colt marked the official entry of Messiah. The crowd spread their cloths and tree branches on the street to welcome their King. They shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest”. Hosanna means “Please save”. The entire city was stirred and asked “Who is this?” The crowd replied “It is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee”. After entering the city, Jesus cleansed the Temple and confronted the corrupt practices of religious leaders. Similar cleansing was done at the beginning of his ministry (John 2:13-22). Jesus could not tolerate their gross perversion of money exchange practices in the Temple. Jesus quoted Jeremiah 7:11 at this time. “My Temple will be called a place of prayer, but you have turned it into a den of thieves”. He healed the sick in the temple and accepted the worship of children. When asked about it Jesus said “Have not you ever read, “Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise?” (Psalms 8:2). Many recognized Jesus as their Messiah by calling him “Son of David”. Then Jesus returned to Bethany, where he stayed overnight with Lazarus and his sisters. Only those who humbly admit their weakness qualify for God's blessing.
Jesus’ Authority is questioned: 21:18-27.
(Read Matt 21:18-27)
Jesus curses the fig tree. The fig tree was often used as a symbol of the nation of Israel (Hosea 9:10). The nation of Israel rejected Jesus and became like a fruitless fig tree. Jesus cursed the tree and it withered immediately. The disciples marveled at this. Jesus said “If you have faith and don’t doubt you can do things like this and much more”. Jesus taught his disciples about importance of faith in God. We should not trust in the power of faith itself but in the God who moves powerfully to accomplish his purposes. Someone has said "Faith is the confident in the power, wisdom love and timing of God". To explain this truth Jesus used the exaggerated illustration here. When Jesus returned to the Temple, the leaders questioned his authority for cleansing the temple. Jesus refused to answer them. He knew the hypocrisy and insincerity in their questioning. Jesus asked them about the authority of the baptism of John the Baptist, whether it is from heaven or from man. They said “we don’t know”. They never approved the ministry of John. Jesus could challenge the minds of these genius religious leaders because he is God.
The Parable of Two Sons: 21:28-32.
(Read Matt 21:28-32)
This story exposes the hypocrisy of the religious leaders. A man had two sons. He said to the first son, “Go and work today in my vineyard”. He said “I will not, but afterward regretted and went. The first son represents the disobedient sinner who later repents. The second son promised that he will go but did not obey. He represents the disobedient religious leaders. True believers are those who respond to Jesus in repentance and faith. The religious leaders failed to obey God but tax collectors and prostitutes received Christ. Our strength to repent is the result of God's grace and goodness (Rom 3:10).
The Parable about the Wicked Farmers.
(Read Matt 21:33-46)
Jesus continues to teach that his disciples are those who respond to him in repentance and faith. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, leased it to tenants and went into another country. At the time of harvest, he sent his servants to collect his share of crop. But the farmers beat the servants and killed them. Finally, the owner sent his son, thinking, “Surely the farmers will respect the son”. But they said “Here comes the heir and killed him. The farmers represent the religious leaders and the servants represent the Old Testament prophets. “Last of all he sent his son” indicates that Jesus was God’s final messenger to Israel. But they killed him. Jesus has already foretold about his coming rejection and death. When asked the leaders about the parable, they said God will judge the wicked farmers. Jesus said unto them “Have you never read Psalms 118:22-23. The stone the builders rejected is Jesus. He is the true cornerstone of the church. The other servants represent the Gentiles who respond to the gospel. Jesus warned that the kingdom of God will be taken away from Israel and given to people who produce fruits. This prophecy was fulfilled at Pentecost. The one who falls on the stone represents one who believes in Christ. But it falls on anyone, it will crush him. This speaks of the coming judgment upon those who reject Christ. The religious leaders understood that Jesus was speaking of them. They wanted to kill Jesus but were afraid of the multitude because they considered Jesus to be a prophet. Many people are religious but never their hearts been transformed by God. Look to Jesus for forgiveness.