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BIBLE STUDY on the Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the two main hinges upon which the door of our salvation turns. He came into the world for the sole purpose to give His life as a ransom; so He Himself had recently said (Mat.20:28). Because of this, the history of His sufferings, His death and His rising again, is more carefully recorded by all the Gospel writers, more so than any other part of His marvelous story. In this chapter, Matthew hastens the pace. This chapter begins at that which is called the passion-week. He had told His apostles more than once, "Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and there the Son of man must be betrayed.". So much good work He did along the way, and now He has finally come up to Jerusalem. Here we see: #1. The public entry that He made into Jerusalem, on the first day of the passion-week (verses 1-11). #2. The authority He exercised in cleansing the Temple, and driving out of it the buyers and sellers (verses 12-16). #3. The fig-tree cursed, and His explanation to the apostles (verses 17-22). #4.. His justifying His authority, by appealing to the baptism of John (verses 23-27). #5. His comparing the unfaithfulness and stubbornness of the chief priests and elders, with the repentance of the publicans and harlots, illustrated by the parable of the two sons (verses 29-32). His calling down the doom of the Jewish church for its unfruitfulness, in the parable of the vineyard let out to unthankful husbandmen (verses 33-46).
This Coming of Christ was described by the prophet Zechariah. Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. (KJV) . . . When Christ would appear in His glory, it is in meekness, NOT in majesty. He would come in mercy to work out salvation for His people. Both meekness and outward poverty were fully seen in Zion's King, and was clearly obvious by His triumphal entrance into Jerusalem.
The apostles brought the ass to Him as He requested. Jesus did not use it without the owner's consent. The trappings were such as they had, probably someone’s coat, on the ass’ back. The chief priests and the elders afterwards joined with the multitude that abused Christ upon the cross; but not one of them joined the multitude that paid Him honor that day. My dear friend, IF we take Christ for our King, our Master, our Lord, we must be willing to lay our all at His feet. The applause of the people was of little value, and did not last very long. The multitude that cried “Hosanna,” soon changed their tune to “Crucify Him” (Mk.15:13-14; Lk.23:21; Jn.19:6). So sad!
Multitudes in today’s time often seem to approve the Gospel, but very “few” (Mat.7:14) ever become trustworthy disciples.
When Jesus came into Jerusalem, the whole city was enthused; some perhaps with joy, who had been waiting for the Consolation of Israel (Lk.2:25); while the Pharisees were moved with anger and envy. So too, are the different notions in the minds of people today upon the drawing near of Christ's Kingdom.
The Lord Jesus enters Jerusalem officially, cleanses the temple, curses the fig tree, and when He is challenged by the chief priests and elders, He condemns them by parables of the two sons and the householder whose servants slew His Son.
I would like to make a comment here about Jesus. There are some cults today preaching “damnable heresies” (2 Pet.2:1) about Christ being rich. That is NOT true! My friend, He did not even have a place to lay His precious Head! Matthew 8:20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. (KJV) . . . Jesus WAS rich, but became poor . . . for us! He left the safety and protection of Heaven, knowing exactly what torture He would eventually endure for us. 2 Cor.8:9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. (KJV) . . . More verses about His being poor: (Ps.40:17; 69:29; 109:22; Isa.53:2-3).
Had Jesus been “rich” as false teachers say, He would NOT have lowered Himself to the task of being a humble servant! Rich people just do NOT do things like that! But Jesus was poor, born of a poor peasant girl, in a barn, with a sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons (Lk.2:24), at the purification ceremony. Mary was poor and could not afford a lamb.
Leviticus 12:6-8 And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest:
7 Who shall offer it before the LORD, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female.
8 And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean. (KJV)
I think that one of the most amazing things about the Lord, Jesus is the Example that He set for us as a humble Servant of God. In the upper room, Jesus met with His disciples to share the Passover meal. He took a towel and basin of water and washed the dust from the streets off of their feet. This was usually the job of the lowest servant in the house. When He finished, Jesus spoke: John 13:13-15 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. (KJV)
Jesus was the Example of humility for us, that we too should serve others. But His washing the apostles’ feet was nothing compared to the Example He set the next day. Jesus suffered the agonizing humiliation, pain and suffering of death on a cross. Had He been rich, He could have “bought” His way to freedom from the Roman authorities. BUT . . . He sacrificed His very life to pay the penalty for OUR sins, so we could be reconciled to God.
Personally, I consider it is blasphemy to say Jesus was rich. The Bible does NOT tell us that Jesus was rich! Quite the contrary, it tells us that He was poor, raised by poor parents. These false teachers simply have been led astray from the Truth of the Bible by the devil himself! Had Jesus been rich as these heretics say, Jesus would not be as “accessible” to the poor and lower class of people, or the retarded, or the maimed or the sickly. Those types of people would not think that the rich Jesus would be available or easy to reach as a poor Jesus, and would be afraid to approach Him. But since Jesus was poor, He is extremely reachable to ALL people . . . to “whosoever”! End of sermon!
The movement in Matthew comes back into sharp focus in this chapter. Jesus comes to Jerusalem in a new role. He had entered the city discreetly and modestly, but now He stresses His claims as King to the city of the King. He certainly was a very bold and daring Jesus! He cleanses the temple for the second time (Jn.2:14-17; Mat.21:12-13). He curses the fig tree, which is a symbolic action. He takes up the challenge of the religious rulers and by parable accuses them of plotting His death. There is a very significant and intended nature in the procedure of Jesus. He will now force them to act when and how He chooses. He is in full control of everything. He is never more a King than when He draws ever so near the Cross.
The Lord’s Triumphal Entry (Matthew 21:1-11)
Matthew 21:1 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, (KJV)
And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem . . . they were going up from Jericho (Mat.20:29), about nineteen miles. Most of the way was desert, or filled with caves, and rocks, and woods. The Mount of Olives, or Olivet, is east of Jerusalem. Between this and Jerusalem there is a small stream called the brook Kidron, or Cedron. It is dry in the hot seasons of the year, but swells to a considerable size in time of heavy rains.. The Mount of Olives was so called from its producing olives. It was from Jerusalem about a Sabbath day's journey (Acts 1:12). On the west side of the mountain was the garden of Gethsemane. On the eastern slope of the mountain, were the villages of Bethphage and Bethany. Both Mark and Luke say that He came near to both those places. Bethany was the place where Lazarus dwelt whom Jesus raised from the dead (Jn.11:1), where Martha and Mary dwelt; and where Mary anointed Him with ointment (Jn.12:1-7). These circumstances are omitted by the first three evangelists, but supplied by John, who wrote after them. The Mount of Olives is about a mile in length, and about seven hundred feet in height, and overlooks Jerusalem, and from its summit almost every part of the city can be seen. The mountain is made up of three peaks or summits. Our Saviour is supposed to have ascended from the middle one.
And were come to Bethphage . . . the Jews say it was within the walls of the city of Jerusalem, and was in all respects as the city itself, and was the outermost part of it. All within the outward circumference of the city of Jerusalem was called Bethphage. To the Mount of Olives . . . this mount was so called because of the abundance of olive trees which grew there, and was on the east side of Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away (Acts 1:12), or about one mile.
Then sent Jesus two disciples . . . it is not known for certain who they were, maybe Peter and John, who were afterwards sent by Him to prepare the Passover (Lk.22:8).
And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem. There are two roads from Jerusalem to Bethany; one around the southern end of the Mount of Olives, and the other across the summit. The latter is much shorter, but more difficult; and it was probably along this road that the Saviour took.
Matthew 21:2 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. (KJV)
Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you . . . the village meant here was not far from Bethany, and about two miles east of Jerusalem.
Ye shall find an ass tied . . . in Judea there were few horses, and what there were, were used mainly in war. Men seldom used horses in ordinary journeys. The ass, the mule and the camel, are still most used in eastern countries. To ride on a horse was at times a symbol of war, whereas a man on a mule or an ass was the symbol of peace. Kings and princes often rode on them in times of peace; and it is mentioned as a mark of rank and dignity to ride in that manner (Jud.10:4; 12:14; 1 Sam.25:20). So it was with Solomon, when he was inaugurated as king, rode on a mule (1 Ki.1:33). Riding in this manner, did not mean either poverty or degradation, but was the suitable way in which a king should ride, and therefore, the King of Zion should enter into His capital, the city of Jerusalem. This would fulfill the prophecy in (Zec.9:9).
And straightway . . . or as Mark says, "as soon as ye be entered into it".
Ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her . . . the other writers mention only the colt, or young ass; but probably both were spoken of by Christ, and both were found by the apostles, the ass and the colt by her, and both were brought by them. And on both of them, very probably, Christ rode; first on one, and then on the other, as the prophecy hereby fulfilled seems to require, and as the sequel of the account shows. The ancient allegorical sense of the ass and colt is not to be despised: that the ass may signify the Jews, who had been used to bear the burdensome rites and ceremonies of the law; and the colt, the wild and untamed Gentiles, and the coming of Christ, first to the one, and then to the other:
Loose them, and bring them unto me . . . both the ass and colt.
Matthew 21:3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. (KJV)
And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, the Lord hath need of them . . . the “Lord” is the proprietor of all things, He is the Master and this is opposed to servant (Mat.10:24; Eph.6:6). “Hath need of them” . . . the Lord Jesus is continually humbling Himself. This He does as an Example to us, to show us how loathsome pride is in the eyes of God. But, even in His humility, He is always giving proofs of His almighty omnipotence (power) and His almighty omniscience (infinite knowledge).
And straightway he will send them . . . I love that word “straightway.” It means right now! Straightway: (1 Sam.9:13; 28:20; Pro.7:22; Dan.10:17; Mat.3:16; 4:20; 14:22,27; 21:2-3; 25:15; 27:48; Mk.1:10,18,20,21; 2:2; 3:6; 5:29,42; 6:24,45,54; 7:35; 8:10; 9:15,20,24; 11:3; 14:45; 15:1; Lk.5:39; 8:55; 12:54; 14:5; Jn.13:32; Acts 9:20; 16:33; 22:29; 23:30; Jam.1:24)
He will send them . . . very clear proof of the omniscience of Christ. He knew exactly where the donkey and her colt were, and where she was tied. He also the owner would question the apostles about loosing and taking them away, and tells them what answer to give, and He knew that the owner would immediately let them go.
Matthew 21:4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, (KJV)
All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet . . . this was always applied to the Messiah, by the Jews. Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. (KJV) . . . According to this prophecy, the Lord Jesus must have ridden both the mother and her colt.
Matthew 21:5 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. (KJV)
Tell ye the daughter of Sion . . . daughter of Zion is Jerusalem. Zion was one of the hills on which the city of Jerusalem was built. On this hill stood the city of David and some strong fortresses. The names daughter and virgin were often given to it as an expression of their beauty. Daughter of Zion: (2 Ki.19:21; Ps.9:14; Song 3:11; Isa.1:8; 3:16-17; 4:4; 10:32; 16:1; 37:22; 52:2; Jer.4:31; 6:2,32; Lam.1:6; 2:1,4,8,13,18; Mic.1:13; 4:8,19,13,14; Zep.3:14; Zec.2:10; 9:9)
Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek . . . meek (Mat.5:5), meaning peaceful, not warlike; not with pomp and splendor, and the banner of ambition. He came in the manner in which kings were accustomed to ride, but NOT with any of their pride and ambitions.
And sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass . . . Mark and Luke say that He rode on the colt. This is applied to the Messiah by the Jews, both ancient and modern, who consider this as an instance and evidence of His humility. It is wrongly assumed by many that our Lord was displaying His meekness by riding on that little donkey. That is not true. This little animal was ridden by kings. Today it would be like riding into town in a big fancy car. The donkey was the animal of peace while the horse was the animal of war. When Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on that little animal of peace, He was offering Himself as their King. But . . . in spite of the fact that He was offering Himself as their King, the prophet says that He was “lowly” or meek. It is very important for us to always remember this about Him.
There are some important omissions in the quotation in Matthew, compared to Zec.9:9. "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion" is omitted. Why? The Lord is not coming into Jerusalem for that time of rejoicing. That will take place at His Second Coming (Rev.19:11-21; Zec.14:1-5). Also omitted is "he is just, and having salvation" . . . the word salvation has the thought of victory, which will also be fulfilled at His Second Coming. I think what we can conclude from this is, that at His Second Coming, there shall be a true and tremendous triumphal entry. What a remarkable day that shall be for the Jews.
Matthew 21:6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, (KJV)
And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them . . . it is not stated who they were, but they did exactly what they were told to do. A good lesson for us.
Matthew 21:7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. (KJV)
And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes . . . putting their clothes on the donkeys was done as a token of respect to Jesus (2 Ki.9:13). Mark and Luke make mention only of the colt. Both were probably brought; the colt being unloosed and led away, while the mother followed after it.
And they sat him thereon . . . "on them" meaning either on the ass and colt, or on one or both successively. We are not told.
Matthew 21:8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. (KJV)
And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way. . . others showed the same respect by throwing their garments before Him. This was the way in which conquerors and princes were often honored. To cast flowers, or garlands, or evergreens, before a warrior returning from victory, or a king entering into his kingdom, was a common way of testifying joyful and triumphant feeling. Some of this great multitude had followed Christ from Jericho, and many of the people were come up to the feast of the Passover from different towns, and met Him from Jerusalem (Jn.12:12-13).
Others cut down branches from the tree . . . John says that these branches were branches of the palm-tree (Jn.12:13). The palm was an emblem of joy and victory. It was used by the Roman soldiers as well as the Jews, as a symbol of peace (Rev.7:9).
The palm-tree is common in warm climates, and was abundant in Palestine. The best ones grew around Jericho and Engeddi. Jericho was called the city of palm-trees (Deut.34:3; 2 Chron.28:15).
Matthew 21:9 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. (KJV)
And the multitudes that went before . . . these seem to be the many people that met Him from Jerusalem,
And that followed him . . . those perhaps that came from Jericho, and other parts.
Cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: . . . the word hosanna means, "Save now," or, "Save, I beseech thee." It is a Syriac word, and was the form of approval used by the Jews. It was probably used in the celebration of their great festivals, where the people responded frequently with hallelujah or hosanna. Their use of it on this occasion was a joyful acclamation. Son of David is the Messiah.
Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord . . . meaning blessed be the Messiah. This passage is taken from Psalm 118:25-26. To come in the name of the Lord, is to come by the authority of the Lord; to come commissioned by Him and to reveal His will. The Jews had generally applied this to the Messiah.
Hosanna in the highest . . . Mark adds that they shouted "Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord." Meaning the kingdom that was promised to David (1 Ki.2:4; 8:25). Coming in the name of the Lord no doubt means coming according to the promise of the Lord.
Matthew 21:10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? (KJV)
And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?. . . there was great excitement; the sight of such a multitude, the shouts of the people, and the triumphant procession through the city, brought about much attention and inquiry. The top of the Mount of Olives, where the vast multitude escorted Jesus, was about 200 feet higher than the temple mount, and was separated from it only by the narrow valley of Jehoshaphat. As a result the procession could be seen and the shouts of the people clearly heard in all parts of the city. The question on every body's lips, "Who is this?"
Matthew 21:11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee. (KJV)
And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee . . . the Lord forces Jerusalem to consider His claims for one final moment. This is Jesus the prophet (Deut.18:15). Of Nazareth of Galilee although He was not born there, He had been educated there, and had lived there.
The Second Cleansing Of The Temple (Matthew 21:12-17)
Jesus’ first cleansing of the temple is described in John 2:14-17, as having taken place just after Jesus’ first miracle, the turning of water into wine at the wedding in Cana. These verses trace Jesus’ movement over a short period of time from Cana in Galilee to Capernaum and eventually to Jerusalem for the Passover. This is the first of two temple cleansings of Jesus, and it is not mentioned in the synoptic Gospels. The second cleansing of the temple occurred just after Jesus’ so-called triumphant entry into Jerusalem the last week of His life. This second cleansing is recorded in Matthew, Mark and Luke, but not in John. There are differences in the two events, as well as their being nearly three years apart. In the first cleansing, temple officials confronted Jesus immediately (Jn.2:18), while in the second cleansing, the chief priests and scribes confronted Him the following day (Mat.21:17-23). In the first event, which I love, Jesus made a whip of cords to drive out the greedy sellers, I can “see” in my mind, the Lord Jesus using that whip in His righteous anger, on those greedy sellers; but there is no mention of a whip in the second cleansing..
So there are two recorded occasions when Jesus cleansed the temple—the first time at the beginning of His public ministry, and the second time just after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem soon before He was crucified.
Matthew 21:12 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, (KJV)
And Jesus went into the temple of God . . . this cleansing of the Temple probably did not take place on the day that Jesus entered Jerusalem in triumph, but on the following day. He came and looked around at all things, and Mark says, He went out to Bethany with the twelve (Mk.11:11). The next day, returning from Bethany, He saw the fig-tree. Entering into the temple, He purified it. The Temple of God, or the Temple dedicated and devoted to the service of God, was built on Mount Moriah. The first temple was built by Solomon, about 1006 years before Christ (1 Ki.6:1). It took Solomon seven years to build it (1 Ki.6:38). David, his father, had considered building it, and had prepared many materials for it, but was prevented, because he had been a man of war (1 Chron.22:1-9; 1 Ki.5:5). This temple was magnificent, and remained until it was destroyed by the Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar, five hundred and eighty-four years before Christ (2 Chron.36:6,7,19). After the Babylon captivity, the temple was rebuilt by Zerubbabel, but was very inferior and much less beauty. The aged men wept when they compared it with the glory of the former temple (Ezra 3:8,12). This was called the second Temple. This Temple was often defiled in the wars before the time of Christ. It had become greatly decayed and impaired. Herod the Great, being very unpopular among the Jews, because of his cruelties, wanted to do something to obtain the favour of the people, and for that reason, about sixteen years before Christ, and in the eighteenth year of his reign, he started the work of repairing it. This he did, not by taking it down entirely at once, but by removing one part after another till it had become in fact a new Temple, greatly surpassing the former in magnificence. It was still called by the Jews the second temple; and by Christ's coming to this Temple thus repaired, was fulfilling the prophecy in Haggai 2:9. On this building Herod employed eighteen thousand men, and completed it so as to be fit for use in nine years, or about eight years before Christ. But additions continued to be made to it, and it continued increasing in splendour and magnificence. John says, "forty and six years was this temple in building" (Jn.2:20). Christ was then thirty years of age, which, added to the sixteen years occupied in repairing it before His birth, makes forty-six years.
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 . . . Jewish law required that every man should pay a tribute to the service of the sanctuary of half a shekel (Ex. 30:11-16). This was a Jewish coin; and it was a matter of convenience to have a place where the Roman coin might be exchanged for the Jewish half-shekel. This was the supposed business of these men. Of course they would demand a small sum for the exchange; and among so many thousands as came up to the great feasts, it would be a very profitable employment, giving rise to much fraud and oppression. The seats of them that sold doves . . . doves were required to be offered in sacrifice (Lev.14:22; Lk.2:24), but it was difficult to bring them from the far off parts of Judea. It was much easier to purchase them in Jerusalem, so it became a business to keep them to sell to those who were required to offer them.
And cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple . . . not in the holy of holies, nor in the holy place, nor in the court of the priests, nor in the court of the Israelites, but in the court of the Gentiles, and in the mountain of the house, in which were shops, where various things were sold, connected to sacrifices. What these persons bought and sold, whom Christ cast out, is not said, but according to John 2:14, it could have also been sheep and oxen besides "doves".
And overthrew the tables of the money changers . . . can you “see” in your mind, Jesus turning over those tables? I can. He had a perfect right to be angry.
Matthew 21:13 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. (KJV)
And said unto them, It is written . . . Isaiah 56:7 Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. (KJV) . . . Only the first part of this verse is quoted from Isaiah. The rest of it, "but ye have made it a den of thieves," was added by the Lord Jesus, meaning their vile abuse of the Temple of God. Thieves and robbers lived in dens and caves, and Judea was then infested with them. In their dens, thieves devise and practice iniquity. These buyers and sellers imitated them. They made the Temple of God a place of gain; they cheated, defrauded and took advantage of the poor.
My house shall be called the house of prayer. but ye have made it a den of thieves . . . these are the words of God, calling the Temple His House, which was built according to the plan He gave (1 Ki.6; 1 Ki.7:13-51; 1 Chron.28:11-19; 2 Chron.3 & 4); and was the place of His worship, and where He dwelt, and promised His Presence to His people, and signifying, that in time to come, it would be a house of prayer; not only for the Jews but for the Gentiles too. Jesus affirmed what is complained of in Jeremiah 7:11, and applied it to the present case, because of the wicked and unlawful gain, avarice and extortion, of the priests and other officers of the temple, who had a considerable share in these things. Jer. 7:11 Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD. (KJV)
Matthew 21:14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them. (KJV)
And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them . . . Isaiah 35:5-6 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. 6 Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. (KJV) . . . The blind could not come to Him unless they were led, nor the lame, unless they were carried: so the sense is, they came, being brought to Him in the temple; to the court of the Gentiles, and mountain of the house, out of which Jesus had cast out the buyers and sellers, and in place of them, were brought in these desperate ones desiring His pity.
And he healed them . . . He restored sight to the blind, and enabled the lame to walk; which miracles He worked to confirm the doctrine He preached.
Matthew 21:15 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, (KJV)
And when the chief priests and Scribes saw the wonderful things that he did . . . the chief men of the nation envied His popularity. They could not prevent it; but they were determined to find fault any way that they could.
The hardened enemies of Christ; who upon hearing the shouts of the people at Christ's entrance into the city, and passage through it to the Temple; knew that it was Jesus of Nazareth that was come there, they came also to gather anything they could against Him, such as the overturning the tables of the money changers, and the seats of those that sold doves, without any opposition, when these traders were so many, and in great power, and He a single person, and unarmed.
And the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David . . .
these came from the various parts of the city with their parents, to see the sight; who, as the multitude had done, began the same song. These rulers were offended that the children should have anything to do with religion, and thought it very improper that they should rejoice that the Saviour has come. BUT . . . the Lord Jesus is NOT an ordinary Man! He looked at this completely different. He thought that it was quite proper that they should rejoice. Children should be interested in the concerns of religion; so that before evil principles get too deep a hold on their minds, they already know it is proper to love and obey Him. He confused the rulers by appealing to a text of their own Scriptures. Psalm 8:2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. (KJV)
They were sore displeased . . . at the children, and at their parents that allowed them to cry out, and especially at Christ, who did not forbid them.
Matthew 21:16 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? (KJV)
And said unto him, hearest thou what these say? . . . these chief priests and scribes were furious with rage and envy. They wanted to know: “Didn’t You hear what the children are saying?” They were suggesting, that surely He did hear, and that He should scold them, or else He would be a very vain man, to take such things to Himself, which did not belong to Him, and from such young children, so void of knowledge and understanding.
And Jesus said unto them, Yea; have ye never read . . . meaning that He did hear, and that He also greatly approved what they said, and was ready to justify it, and did, by putting the following question to them,
Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise? . . . Psalm 8:2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. (KJV) . . . He thought that it was quite proper that they should rejoice. Children should be interested in the concerns of religion, and the earlier the better.
Matthew 21:17 And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there. (KJV)
And he left them . . . the high priests and Scribes, whom He had confounded and made silent, for they were unworthy of His company and His words. See: Luke 21:37; 22:39; John 8:1-2. They were about to murder the Lord of glory; and the true light, which they had rejected, is now departing from them.
And went out of the city; to Bethany . . . left Jerusalem, and went to Bethany, which was a village about two miles from Jerusalem, by Mount Olivet (Jn.11:18). He would spend no more nights in Jerusalem, but went every evening to Bethany, and returned to the Jerusalem each morning. Some suggestions as to why: to prevent being seized by His enemies before His time, and partially to remove all suspicion of His seizing the city and government, to set Himself up as a temporal prince.
And he lodged there . . . either in the house of Lazarus and his two sisters, or in the house of Simon the leper (Mat.26:6; Mk.14:3), for it was eventide according to Mark (Mk.11:11). Christ slept there all night.
The Withered Fig Tree (Matthew 21:18-22)
Matthew 21:18 Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. (KJV)
Now in the morning . . . He returned into the city of Jerusalem, which was His custom from the time He totally left Jerusalem, spending only the day teaching in the Temple. This was probably on Thursday, the 12th day of the month of Nisan.
As he returned into the city . . . some versions say "they returned"; which gives a true sense; for, as Christ went with the twelve to Bethany, as Mark affirms, so too, these returned with Him to Jerusalem, as is clear from what follows. So the habit of Christ, day after day, was that He went to and from Jerusalem. In the evening He went to Bethany, or to some part of the Mount of Olives, and there spent the night, and returned in the daytime to Jerusalem, and taught in the Temple. For it does not seem that He was one night in Jerusalem, before the night of the Passover.
He hungered . . . probably neither He, or His apostles, had any thing except what they received from public charity; and that hand seems to have been cold at this time.
Matthew 21:19 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. (KJV)
And when he saw a fig tree . . . He saw a fig tree by the road side. Since this tree was by the way side, it was not on private property, so the Lord, or any other traveler, had a right to eat of its fruit.
And found nothing thereon but leaves only . . . Mark says, "he came, if haply he might find anything thereon"; which we must be understand of Him as Man. He was hungry. This is absolutely NO contradiction to His deity, and His having the Spirit of God.
He said unto it, let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever . . .
or, as it is expressed in Mark, "no man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever": for if none grew on it henceforward, no man could hereafter eat of it. Both expressions design the same thing, the perpetual barrenness of the fig tree:
And presently the fig tree withered away . . . right now, straightway, immediately, when Jesus spoke these words, its sap was dried up, it lost its greenness; its leaves shriveled and shrunk and dropped off. This tree was an symbol of the Jews. Fig tree, symbol of Israel: (Hos.9:10; Mat.21:19; 24:32).
Christ being very eager for the salvation of men, came first to the Jews, from whom, on account of their great profession of religion, and great pretense to holiness, and the many advantages they enjoyed, much fruit of righteousness was expected . . . but, unfortunately He found nothing but mere words, empty boasts, an outward show of religion, an external profession, and a bare performance of insignificant ceremonies, and oral traditions. Because of this, Christ rejected them, and in a short time later, the Gospel was taken away from them, and their temple, city, and nation, was entirely destroyed.
Jesus was actually denouncing Israel’s worship of God. When He cursed the fig tree, He was symbolically denouncing Israel as a nation and, in a sense, also denouncing unfruitful “Christians” . . . meaning people who profess to be Christian but have NO evidence of a relationship with Christ.
The presence of a fruitful fig tree was considered to be a symbol of blessing and prosperity for the nation of Israel. So too, the scarcity or death of a fig tree would symbolize judgment and rejection. Symbolically, that fig tree represented the spiritual deadness of Israel, who were very religious outwardly with all their sacrifices and ceremonies (like some cults today), but they were spiritually barren because of their sins (disobedience to God). By cleansing the Temple and cursing that fig tree, causing it to whither and die, Jesus was declaring His coming judgment on Israel and clearly demonstrating His almighty power to carry it out. Something else this clearly teaches us is: religious profession and vigilantly observing ceremonies will NOT guarantee eternal salvation! There MUST be “fruit” of genuine salvation! It MUST be evidence in the life of the person. James spoke this Truth when he wrote: “faith without works is dead” (Jam.2:26). A TRUE Christian MUST bear spiritual fruit (Gal.5:22-23). Just an outward appearance of religion brings on God’s wrath, as Jesus proves in this Passage. John 15:5-8 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. (KJV)
Matthew 21:20 And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! (KJV)
And when the disciples saw it . . . the following morning after the tree was cursed, They marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! . . . Matthew only tells us that this was said to him; Mark tells us that it was Peter who said it (Mk.11:20-21). He was expressing his amazement at it, and ascribing it to the power of Christ; of which this was a clear and incredible proof and evidence. Something to consider, often we say to someone, "I don’t believe how quickly that man died! I didn’t even know he was sick.” But . . . how many people take this as a warning of the brevity of life? What we say today about others, may be said tomorrow of ourselves. Here today, gone tomorrow. We know NOT the hour when God shall call us away. We must be ready! Lord, increase our faith! Brevity of life: (Gen.6:3; 47:9; 2 Sam.19:34; 1 Chron.29:15; Job 4:20; 7:6; 8:9; 9:25; 10:5; 14:2; 16:22; 34:20; 38:21; Ps.39:5; 49:12; 78:39; 89:47; 90:5-6,9-10; 102:3,11,23; 103:16; 144:4; 146:4; Ecc.1:4; 6:12; Isa.38:12; Zec.1:5; Mat.25:13; Jn.9:4; 1 Cor.7:29; 2 Cor. 4:17; Heb.13:14; Jam.4:14; 2 Pet.1:14).
Matthew 21:21 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. (KJV)
Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, if ye have faith, and doubt not . . . the power of God reaches all things. The object of faith is expressed in Mark, "have faith in God" (Mk.11:22). Jesus tells them that their problem is that they do not have faith to believe that God can move in such a miraculous way. This kind of faith would not allow the least amount of doubting. Because of lack of this faith, without doubting, the disciples could not cure the child that was lunatic (Mat.17:15-21).
Ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree . . . Jesus wanted to establish their faith in God. He told them any difficulty could be removed by faith. But also, if ye shall say to this mountain . . . maybe He pointed to the Mount of Olives, where Christ and His disciples now were.
Be thou removed, and cast into the sea . . . the sea was many miles from Mount Olivet. The apostles probably were thinking physically again; and it would indeed be a very surprising performance for a mountain to be rooted up, as large as that was, and be whirled several miles away from its former location, and be thrown into the sea. And yet, as difficult and amazing as this may seem, Jesus said . . .
It shall be done . . . provided that the person does NOT doubt, or as Mark says, "shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things, which he saith, shall come to pass, he shall have whatsoever he saith" (Mk.11:23). The Lord does NOT mean that they should do these particular things; nor is it certain that they ever did: but His sense is, IF they had the faith, they would be well able, not only to do lesser miracles, such as the withering of the fig tree was, but they would be able to perform things much more difficult and astonishing, whenever the good of the souls of men was at stake.
To remove a mountain, means the power of overcoming any difficulty. The phrase was so used by the Jews. There is no doubt that this was literally true, that if they had the faith without doubt, they could remove the mountain before them . . . for this was as easy for God to do through them as it was to heal the sick, or raise the dead. I really do think that the Lord Jesus instead referred, most likely, to the difficulties and trials which they would be called to endure in preaching the Gospel. Their faith must remain firm and steadfast, for God would work through them.
There is something much more important for us to do than literal mountain moving and fig tree cursing. To bring the Gospel of Christ to a person who is searching, so that the Holy Spirit of God can work on them and bring eternal life to them . . . THAT is a miracle! Any time that we can say something that the Spirit of God can use to transform a life . . . that is the kind of faith we need. What we need is a firm faith to believe that God can and will use His Word through us.
Matthew 21:22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. (KJV)
And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive . . . He encourages them to pray, assuring them that they should have all things which they asked. This particular Promise was obviously a very special one, given to the apostles in regard to working miracles. There are some who say that we today, have no right to apply this promise to ourselves. It was intended specifically for the apostles, and we do not have a right to turn it from its original meaning. I’m afraid I cannot go along with that belief. YES! It was given to the apostles, God’s humble servants. But, are we not God’s servants in this day? NO! We are NOT apostles, Jesus did NOT physically hand pick us as He did the twelve. But we are His disciples, striving to serve Him. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive . . . this, like all the other Promises to answered prayer, is limited by the conditions laid down in the Scriptures. (See Matthew 7:7-8) This verse is not a guarantee that we can get anything we want simply by asking Jesus and believing. God NEVER grants a request that would hurt us or anyone else, or that would violate His own nature or His will. Jesus' statement here is NOT a blank check. For our requests to be fulfilled, we must be in harmony with the principles of God's Kingdom. The stronger our belief in God, the more likely our prayers will be in line with God's will, because believing in God is also knowing God and His Holy Word.
For our prayer to be fulfilled, it must honor and glorify God, we must have an interest in the spreading of the Gospel of Christ, enlarging the Kingdom of Christ, our own spiritual good must be considered, as well as being concerned with the welfare of eternal souls, and our prayer to God the Father must be in the Name of His Son, Jesus.
In prayer: (Mat.7:7; Mk.11:24; Jam.5:16; 1 Jn.3:22; 5:14).
The Searching Question (Matthew 21:23-27)
Jesus is challenged by the religious authorities again.
Matthew 21:23 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? (KJV)
And when he was come into the temple . . . probably the inner court; the court of the Israelites. When they were come into the city and to the Temple, where He went directly, and started His work of preaching to the people.
The chief priests and elders of the people came unto him . . . the "chief priests" were not the high priest and his deputy, but the major ones of the priesthood, who were chosen from the rest of their brethren, to sit in the Sanhedrim. "The elders of the people" were the laity that were chosen from among the people, to be members of the same grand council (Deut.21:2). It seems that a greater part of the Sanhedrim, came in a body together, that by their presence and authority, they might deter Christ, discourage His ministry, bring it into contempt with the people, and stop His teaching and success. And this they did.
As he was teaching . . . meaning preaching the Gospel to them, He was instructing them in the things relating to Himself and His Kingdom, giving out the mysteries of His grace, the doctrines of regeneration, justification, and salvation.
And said, by what authority dost thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?. . . they meant driving out the buyers and sellers out of the temple, which greatly provoked them, because it hit their pocketbook. They also wanted to know by what right was He performing miracles of restoring sight to the blind, and causing the lame to walk; which He had just recently done. By what authority . . . there was a show of politeness in this question. He was making big changes in the affairs of the Temple, and they wanted to know by what right this was done, without their permission. He was not a priest; He had no civil or religious authority as a Jew. They would not admit that it was sufficient authority indeed, that He came as a Prophet, and worked miracles. They simply were not satisfied with that.
Matthew 21:24 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. (KJV)
And Jesus answered and said unto them . . . Jesus was under absolutely no obligation to give them an answer. They knew full well, by what authority He did this. He did not conceal His power in working the miracles, and had not hidden the knowledge that He was the Messiah.
I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things . . . great strategy! Answer a question with a question.
They could not object to this. For Jesus promises, that if they would give Him a plain answer to His question, He would expressly declare His commission and authority, what it was, and from where He had gotten it. His question .
Matthew 21:25 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? (KJV)
The baptism of John, whence was it? . . . Jesus referred them to a similar case, that of John the Baptist. He knew the opinion in which John was held by the people. He set up the wise in their own shrewdness. No matter what answer they gave, they would convict themselves.
From heaven, or of men? . . . when they looked at the question, they reasoned correctly. If they said, From heaven, He would ask why they did not believe him, because they professed to hear all the prophets. If they said. Of men, their reputation was gone, for all the people believed that John was a prophet.
And they reasoned with themselves . . . "within themselves" or “in their own minds", they privately conferred together, what answer they should give Him, after they argued the point among themselves.
Saying, if we shall say from heaven, he will say unto us, why did ye not believe him? . . . if we answer that the baptism and ministry of John were of divine appointment, and that he acted by a divine authority, He will ask “why did not ye believe the doctrine that he preached? and receive the testimony that he gave concerning the Messiah? and why were ye not baptized by him?” They clearly saw that if they said that the baptism and ministry of John’s was divine, they must consent that Jesus was the TRUE Messiah, John bore witness to . . . and so, it was by a divine authority He did what He did; and that put an end to their question.
Matthew 21:26 But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet. (KJV)
But if we shall say, Of men we fear the people; for all held John as a prophet . . . if they would answer that John’s baptism and ministry were of men, they were afraid of what the people would do to them, because the people firmly believed that John was a prophet, that was raised up, and sent directly by God; and did not get his authority and commission to preach and baptize from any man.
Matthew 21:27 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. (KJV)
And they answered Jesus and said, we cannot tell . . . this was a direct lie. They could have told; and it should have been told by them . . . but instead they lied and said “we cannot tell” . . . what they meant was “we will not tell.”
And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things . . .
since they did not give him a direct answer to His question, He was under no obligation to inform them, what was His authority, and from where He had it. Although by the question He put to them, He without words suggests, that His authority was NOT from man, but from God.
Parable Of The Two Sons (Matthew 21:28-32)
Matthew 21:28 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. (KJV)
But what think you? . . . See Matthew 18:12.
A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard . . . true religion is "bringing forth fruit unto God."
Matthew 21:29 He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. (KJV)
He answered and said, I will not . . . there is a disrespect and rudeness in this answer, and a complete lack of any attempt to excuse such disobedience. This to me represents careless, irresponsible sinners resisting God to His Face. Many fall into this category. Sad to say, I myself was one of these. For years I heard Jesus knocking at my heart’s door (Rev.3:20). But I kept it locked tight. He wanted me to go to work in His “vineyard” but I refused. I can’t thank Him enough for waiting all those wasted years. What a forgiving God we have! Thank You Jesus!
But afterward he repented, and went . . . a change of mind was brought about in him, and this produced a change of life and conversation. Many of the publicans and sinners repented of their sins of disobedience, and rebellion against God, under the ministry of John the Baptist, Christ, and His apostles . . . not of themselves, for men do not naturally see their sin, or think they need to repent. Their hearts are hard and stubborn; they have no spiritual sense or feeling. One of the kindest mercies of God is His grace, for which I am eternally grateful. I too, repented, had a change of mind and have been in His service now for over 40 years. Praise His Holy Name!
Matthew 21:30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. (KJV)
And he came to the second, and said likewise, And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not . . . the Scribes and Pharisees seemed pleased with the ministry of John for a while, and at first submitted to his baptism, and were very inquisitive about the Messiah: yet, when He was declared in John's ministry, and by His own doctrine and miracles, they refused to believe in Him; nor would they embrace the doctrines, and obey the commands of it themselves, nor allow others to enter in (Mat.23:13); but, as much as in them lay, by their reproaches and excommunications, they deterred people away from Christ. The scribes and Pharisees were like some people, who promise to do good works, but do none; they teach the people to do them, but do not perform them themselves, although they would seem to do them; making a great pretense of doing them, boast of them, and trust in them; thus of all men, they should be careful to maintain them, and yet they do the least.
Matthew 21:31 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. (KJV)
Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, the first . . . now comes the application. The publicans and the harlots symbolize the first son, who, when told to work in the Lord's vineyard, said, I will not; but afterwards repented and went. Their past life was a flat and brazen refusal to do what they were commanded. They continued in rebellion against the authority of God. The chief priests and the elders of the people, with whom our Lord was now speaking, symbolized the second son, who said, I go, sir, but did not go. These were called early, and all their life alleged obedience to God, but were hypocrites and never did obey Him. Their life was continued disobedience.
This question put by Christ, about the preceding parable to the chief priests, elders, and Scribes had an answer, and the answer was directed to them . . . and therefore they give it out at once, without waiting to give the answer, but . . . they did NOT seem to be aware that the application of it, was to themselves, which follows:
Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, that the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you . . . see Matthew 9:10. The publicans and the harlots symbolize the first son, who repenting went, and did the will of his father. Those who repented under John's ministry, were called, and brought to repentance by the preaching of Christ, and His apostles, were justified by God, their Father, by being baptized with John's baptism. These embraced the Messiah, believed in Him, and were the first in His Kingdom, and set an example to the chief ones among the Jews. It is good to see that a vile and profane sinner may, by the grace of God, be brought to repentance, that before was stubborn, rebellious and disobedient, and be made willing to go and work in the Lord's vineyard, when a self righteous person, even with all his promises and resolutions to do good, his professions and pretense of religion, does NOT repent of his sins, does NOT believe in Christ; has no part in the kingdom of grace, nor will he enter into the kingdom of glory.
This parable does apply to us today. Many people have joined the church and think they are religious, think they are Christians, but they are not. They perform all those church rituals and say they agree to the doctrines, but they are not TRUE believers unless there has been a transformation in their lives. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Cor.5:17). The publicans and harlots were aware of their sinfulness and came to Christ for salvation. They came late, for at first they had said no to God, but they then repented and came to Him, and He received them. The religious rulers had just a religion of outward decorations, but had nothing genuine inside. When a person accepts Jesus Christ as Saviour, the inside is not only redecorated, it is made completely new.
Matthew 21:32 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. (KJV)
For John came unto you in a way of righteousness . . . John the Baptist came, calling you to repentance; just as Noah is styled "a preacher of righteousness" (2 Pet.2:5), when like John the Baptist, he warned the old world to "flee from the wrath to come." God is SO good, my friend, He always warns us in some way to repent.
And ye believed him not . . . that he was the forerunner of the Messiah, or the Elias that was to come (Mat.11:14). They did not heed the doctrine of repentance preached by him, nor were they baptized by him (Lk.7:30), nor gave any agreement or credit to the Messiah he so clearly pointed out.
But the publicans and harlots believed him . . . vile sinners believed him about the wrath to come, and the miserable state and danger they were in. They repented of their sins, and confessed them, and were baptized by John in the Jordan River. They believed the testimony he gave of Jesus of Nazareth being the Messiah, and Son of God. (Lk.3:12; 7:29).
And ye, when ye had seen it . . . the repentance and faith of these sinners, and what a wonderful reformation was done in them,
Repented not afterwards . . . refused to repent of their disobedience, impenitence, and unbelief, even when they had seen the effects of John's ministry on these sinners, nor after the death of John; who by his constancy, zeal, and faithfulness, had shown he was a true, and upright minister of the word; nor afterwards under the ministry of Christ, and His apostles, by whom the same doctrines were preached, and the same ordinances administered. Stubborn people!
That ye might believe him . . . they stubbornly refused to believe John’s testimony about the Messiah.
Now our Lord gives them another parable before they can get out of hearing distance.
Pabable Of The Householder And His Vineyard (Matthew 21:33-46)
In this parable the householder represents God the Father, and the Son is the Lord Jesus Christ. The husbandmen are a picture of Israel.
Matthew 21:33 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: (KJV)
Hear another parable . . . although Luke says this was spoken to the people, who were gathered around Him, but was directed to, and against the chief priests; who continued with Him till it was delivered, and the application of it was made.
There was a certain householder . . . the One and Only God of Heaven and Earth is meant. The whole world could be considered His House, and the inhabitants of the world are His family, who are nourished and supported by Him.
Which planted a vineyard . . . by this vineyard is meant, the house of Israel and the men of Judah, the nation of the Jews (Isa.5:7), from where the Lord seems to have taken many of the ideas expressed in this parable. These were a people separated from the rest of the world, and set with good plants, and from whom fruit should be expected. The planting of them means the removing them from Egypt, the driving out the natives before them, and settling them in the land of Canaan, where they were planted with choice vines, such as Joshua and Caleb, and where they soon became a prosperous people. But because of their iniquities, they often were exposed to beasts of prey (the neighboring nations: Lev.26:25; Num.14:45; Deut.1:44; Josh.7:4; Jud.3:13; 1 Sam.4:2,10,17; 1 Chron.10:1; 2 Chron.28:5). They suffered often because of God’s holy wrath on them.
And hedged it round about . . . it was usual to set a hedge or wall round a vineyard, which according to the Jewish writers was to be ten hands high, and four broad.
And digged a winepress in it . . . the winepress is where they squeezed the grapes and made the wine
And built a tower . . . this was called by the Jews, "the watch house"; which was a high place, where the watchman stood to keep the vineyard safe, and which was built in the vineyard (Isa.5:2).
And let it out to husbandmen . . . husbandmen are the tenant farmers. There were different methods of hiring and letting out fields and vineyards among the Jews: one was he, who let out to his neighbor a field or vineyard to reap the fruit of it, for a certain sum of money annually (Song 8:11); another was one that let out a field, or a vineyard, agreeing to give the owner of it so many measures of the fruit annually, whether it yielded more or less; and there was a third who agreed to give the owner half, or a third, or a fourth part of the increase of the field, or vineyard. It is the letting out and farming, that this is to be understood; not of letting it out for money, but for fruit, as appears from verse 34. The husbandmen are meant to be the rulers of the Jews, civil and religious, especially the religious ones, the priests, Levites, and Scribes, who were entrusted with the care of the Jewish people, to guide and instruct them, and cultivate the knowledge of divine things among them, that they might bring forth fruits of righteousness; and to offer their gifts and sacrifices, which are meant by letting out the vineyard to them.
And went into a far country . . . which must be interpreted consistent with the omnipresence of God, Who is every where, all the time, and cannot be said correctly to move from place to place; but fills Heaven and Earth with His Presence (Jer.23:24), and cannot be contained in either (2 Chron.2:6). God did not appear to them in that visible manner He had done before; but set their order of government, worship, and duty, then left them to themselves and their rulers; for many years; in which He expressed much longsuffering and patience towards them.
Matthew 21:34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. (KJV)
And when the time of the fruit drew near . . . to gather the fruit when it was ripe, and might be eaten, or profit made of it, according to the law (Lev.19:23-25). The fruit of all manner of trees, for the first three years, was uncircumcised; it was not to be eaten, nor any profit made of it, and on the fourth year it was to be holy to praise the Lord with; being either given to the priests, or eaten by the owners before the Lord at Jerusalem; and on the fifth year it might be eaten, and made use of for profit, and after this every year; which law regarded the fruit of the vine.
He sent his servants to the husbandmen . . . His servants are the prophets God sent to Israel.
That they might receive the fruits of it . . . of the vineyard from the tenants. For fruits of justice and judgment, of righteousness and holiness, might be justly expected and demanded of such persons, to be brought forth by them, to the honor and glory of God.
Matthew 21:35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. (KJV)
And the husbandmen took his servants . . . the tenants seized and laid hold of the prophets in a rude and violent manner.
And beat one . . . Jeremiah was struck by Pashur, the son of Immer the priest, one of these husbandmen (Jer.20:1-2), and as Micaiah was smitten on the cheek by Zedekiah, the son of Chenaanah, the false prophet (2 Chron.18:23). Some were beaten and scourged, which may refer to the punishment of beating with forty stripes, save one, by which the skin was flayed off (Deut.25:3; 2 Cor.11:24). Some of these servants had trials of cruel mockings and scourgings, (Heb.11:36). Some were stoned, some were sawn asunder (Heb.11:37). Some were killed with the sword (1 Ki.19:14).
And stoned another . . . some were stoned (2 Chron.24:21), as they did Zechariah, and beyond a shadow of a doubt, many others. Jerusalem had the character of killing the prophets, and stoning them that were sent unto her (Mat.23:37). Some of these that were stoned, were not killed; but as Mark says, were wounded in the head with the stones thrown at them (Mk.12:4), and shamefully handled, and sadly abused.
Matthew 21:36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. (KJV)
Again he sent other servants . . . this may refer to the times of the Maccabees.
More than the first . . . greater in number, although their office was the same, at least not higher.
And they did unto them likewise . . . they beat them with rods, they killed them with the sword, and stoned them (Heb.11:36-37).
Matthew 21:37 But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. (KJV)
But last of all he sent unto them son . . . after all the prophets had been sent, and finished their course, then came the Greatest Prophet of all, to seal up the vision and prophecy. The Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, was sent at first only to the house of Israel. He was the minister of the circumcision; He was the Great Prophet raised up among them (Deut.18:18), and was sent to bless them, by turning them from their iniquities; He came to them, to His own (Jn.1:11), to them of His own nation, but they received him not.
Saying, they will reverence my son . . . the Son of God was/is to be reverenced equally as His Father, because He is in nature and glory equal to Him (Jn.10:30); and it is the will of his Father that He should be so reverenced, as He is by the angels in Heaven, and by the saints, both in Heaven and in Earth. BUT . . . these husbandmen did NOT reverence him! Quite the opposite! They despised Him, they rejected Him; they reproached and slandered Him as the vilest of men, and used Him in the most cruel and savage manner.
Matthew 21:38 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. (KJV)
But when the husbandmen saw the son . . . whom many of them knew, although some did not; for some were entirely unaware of Who He was. Some knew Him, but were afraid to confess Him, yet did not harm Him. Others stubbornly acted against the light and their conscience (Rom.1:18-21), with appalling spite and malice, as did these men. The Jews expected the Messiah about this time, and they knew by prophecy, it would not be long before He appeared . . . and when they saw Jesus of Nazareth, they knew by various circumstances mentioned in Scriptures, by all the characters of the Messiah coming together in Him, and by His miracles, that He must be the Messiah.
They said among themselves . . . privately, not openly to the people,
This is the heir . . . Jesus as the Messiah, is indeed Heir of all things. As the Son of God, and as the Mediator of the new covenant: He is Heir of all that His Father has, for He is God’s only begotten Son; and as Mediator, He is Heir of all things, physical, spiritual and eternal, for the use and benefit of His church and His people, who are also His portion and His inheritance.
Come let us kill him, and seize on his inheritance . . . they concluded that could they would be rid of Him, and their nation would be in peace, their temple would stand, and Temple worship and service continue, and they remain in their office and authority undisturbed. Just the opposite occurred. That which they feared, befell them, and the end result of His death, was far beyond all their counsels and expectations.
Matthew 21:39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. (KJV)
And they caught him . . . seized Him in a rude and violent manner, just as they had done to some of the servants (prophets) before. This speaks of their apprehending Jesus in the garden, by a band of soldiers and officers, sent by the chief priests and Pharisees, who with swords and staves took Him, bound Him, and led Him away.
And cast him out of the vineyard . . . this is not to be understood of their casting Him out of the synagogue, which is never said of them; nor does it so much relate to the leading Him outside the gates of Jerusalem, where they crucified Him, but this refers to the delivery of Him to those, that were outside the vineyard of the Jewish church and nation, to the Gentiles; to be mocked, scourged, and put to death by them.
And slew him . . . although the sentence of death was pronounced on Him by Pilate, a Heathen governor, and He was executed by the Roman soldiers . . . it was through the start and the pressing demands of these husbandmen, these Jewish rulers; and who were afterwards often charged by the apostles with the murder of Him.
Matthew 21:40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? (KJV)
When the Lord therefore of the vineyard cometh . . . when the Owner called these husbandmen to an account; not only for the fruit they were to bring to Him; but for their barbarity to His servants, the prophets, time after time; and especially, for the inhuman usage and murder of His own Son;
What will he do unto those husbandmen? . . . this question is put to the chief priests, elders, and Scribes: and they themselves, who are designed hereby, are made judges in this case, just as the inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah are, as in (Isa.5:4), which Passage of Scripture our Lord had in mind when He spoke this parable. Isaiah 5:4 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? (KJV)
Matthew 21:41 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. (KJV)
They say unto him . . . either the common people that were around Him; or most likely the chief priests, scribes, and elders, to whom He put the question; little thinking then, that they were the persons intended in this parable.
He will miserably destroy those wicked men . . . in saying this, they agree that persons guilty of such crimes as beating, killing and stoning servants sent to them by the owner of the vineyard, and at last murdering His Son and Heir, were very wicked persons, and deserved the most severe punishments to be inflicted upon them, and that without mercy. They really condemn themselves as wicked men, and as deserving the worst of deaths, and who in just a few days after this, wanted the death of the Son of God.
And will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen . . . they agreed that it was a very just thing, not only to put these men to the most miserable and tormenting death that could be devised, but to take the vineyard out of the hands of their future generations, and let it out to other persons. It was a righteous thing for God to do, to remove the church state, the Gospel and ordinances from the Jews, and deliver them to the Gentiles.
Which shall render him the fruits in their seasons . . . meaning His due in the proper time. Luke 20:16 He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid. (KJV)
Matthew 21:42 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? (KJV)
Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read the Scriptures . . . Psalm 118:22-23 The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. 23 This is the LORD'S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. (KJV)
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? Very appropriately is this Scripture cited, and applied to the present case; which expresses the rejection of the Messiah by the Jewish builders, priests, and scribes. That whole Psalm may be understood of the Messiah. Some say that the Psalm speaks of David, and others say that it speaks of the days of the Messiah. Become the head of the corner . . . Jesus is the Corner Stone in the building which knits and cements together, Jews and Gentiles.
This is the Lord's doing . . . this stone is laid in the building by Him: the rejection of Him is according to his determinate counsel and foreknowledge (Acts 2:23); and the exaltation of Him, above every Name (Phil.2:9), is owing to Him, and He is by and at God’s own Right Hand. Right Hand of God: (Mk.16:19; Lk.22:69; Acts 2:33; 7:55-56; Rom.8:34; Col.3:1; Heb.10:12; 12:2; 1 Pet.3:22).
And it is marvellous in our eyes . . . in the eyes of all TRUE believers; because there is such a wonderful display of the love, faithfulness, grace, mercy, power and wisdom of God.
Matthew 21:43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. (KJV)
Therefore I say unto you . . . this is the application of the parable, with the words directed at the chief priests, elders, scribes and people of the Jews. They are spoken as to what would be in end result of the builders, rejecting the Messiah, the foundation and corner stone of the building.
The kingdom of God shall be taken from you . . . not their civil government, which was of God, and in a short time was to depart from them, according to ancient prophecy, but the Gospel, which had been preached among them by John the Baptist, Christ, and His apostles. It is called the Kingdom of God, because it shows men both their right for it (through the righteousness of Christ, 1 Cor.1:30; Jn.14:6), and fitness for it (in the regenerating and sanctifying grace of the Spirit, Jn.1:12-13; 2 Cor.5:17). The Gospel may be taken away from a people, as from the Jews, because of their contempt of it, their opposition to it, or their lukewarmness and indifference to it, or being unfruitful in it.
And given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof . . . although God may take the Gospel away from a people, as He did from the Jews; He does not, He will not, not yet anyway, take it completely out of the world. He gives it to another "nation" to the Gentiles, to ALL the nations of the world, where He sent His apostles to preach and where it must be preached before the end of the world comes (Mat.24:14), so that He can gather His elect out of them. No particular nation is meant.
Matthew 21:44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. (KJV)
And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken . . . "whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken" relates to Christ's First Coming. He is the Rock on which the church is built. "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Cor.3:11). I think “to fall on that Stone” is to come to Christ for salvation in this day of grace. To reject Christ is to have the Stone fall later in the judgment about which Daniel prophesied (Dan.2:34;44-45), which relates to Christ's Second Coming. And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard His parables, they supposed that He spoke of them. There is without a doubt, an allusion here to Isaiah 8:14-5. Having made an allusion to Himself as a Stone, or a Rock in verse 42, He proceeds to state the penalty of coming in contact with it.
But on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder . . . will reduce him to dust, so that it may be scattered by the winds. There is an reference here, without a doubt, to the custom of stoning as a punishment among the Jews. A scaffold was erected, twice the height of the man to be stoned. Standing on its edge, he was violently struck off by one of the witnesses; if he died by the blow and the fall, nothing farther was done; if not, a heavy stone was thrown down on him, which at once killed him. So the Saviour speaks of the falling of the stone on His enemies. They who oppose Him, reject Him, and continue unrepentant, shall be crushed by Him in the day of judgment, and perish for ever. http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/14061-stoning
Matthew 21:45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. (KJV)
And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables . . . Pharisees, although not before mentioned, were many in the grand Sanhedrim, as well as the chief priests, scribes, and elders. They "had heard his parables" . . . that of the two sons being sent into the vineyard, and that of the letting out the vineyard to husbandmen,
They perceived that he spake of them . . . they plainly saw that THEY were intended by the son, that promised to go into the vineyard, but did not. They just talked of works, but did not do them. And too, that they were the husbandmen (tenents) that acted the ungrateful part to the householder, and the cruelty done to His servants, and would to His Son. Their very own consciences told them THEY were the men. They knew that the whole was levelled against them, and designed for them, and exactly fit their case.
Matthew 21:46 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet. (KJV)
But when they sought to lay hands on him . . . they did not attempt by any outward action to seize Him, and carry Him off, or by any act of violence to take away His life . . . BUT . . . they secretly wished and earnestly desired to do it. They were extremely irritated and provoked, that they could hardly keep their hands off of Him.
They feared the multitude . . . which was now around Jesus, lest there should be a uproar, and the multitude would take the part of Christ against them. They would have been in a great danger.
Because they took him for a prophet . . . by the doctrines which He taught, by the boldness and freedom of speech He used, and by the miracles He did. They all might not believe that He was the Messiah, or that Prophet Moses spoke of; but since it was so clear that He was a Teacher sent by God, and was endowed with incredibly divine gifts. Mark says, "they left him, and went their way" to consult together what they should do, and wait for a better chance to seize Him.
Gospel of Matthew
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