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Matthew Chapter 21

Memory verses for this week:  Heb 7:19  For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. 

Introduction: In last week’s lesson, we studied the parable of the laborers in the vineyard.  Later, Christ  explained that to sit on his right and left hands in his earthly kingdom was not his to choose, but was an honor that would be bestowed upon certain individuals by God the Father one day.  This week, we begin our study with Christ coming into Jerusalem on a colt which fulfills prophecy from the Old Testament. 

I.  The King’s Public Offer of Himself as King

Mat 21:1  And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,

Mat 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.

Mat 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.

Jesus gives instructions to the disciples.   You and I might have questioned if we should do this.. but the two disciples do as they are commanded and don’t question Christ.  He tells them to go to a certain place and find an ass that was tied.  They were to loose it and bring it to Jesus.  If someone was to ask what they were doing, they were to tell them that the Lord had need of the animal, and straightway the man would send them on their way.  I think it was a great honor to be the owner of something that the Lord would want to use.   And if we have talents or possessions in this life, we ought to let God use them for His honor and glory.

Jesus had very few possessions in this life.  Jesus warned the disciples when they left all to follow him that he did not even have a place to lay his head.   Some possessions in life are good, but as we get older, it is clear that the more things we own, the more they can weigh us down.   Paul wanted to be one that got rid of the thing s, particularly the sins of life, and put them out of the way that he might be effective in running the race of life for the Lord.


Heb 12:1  Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Heb 12:2  Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.


Mat 21:4  All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying,

Mat 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.

It is wonderful to see Christ coming and fulfilling the prophecies of the Old Testament.  These were given to prove to us that Jesus was the true Messiah.

Zec 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.

Mat 21:6  And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them,

Mat 21:7  And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.

It is a good thing to see people do what the Lord commands.   So many times when we are given a job to do, we question the work at hand.  But to obey is what God desires of his servants.

John 14:13  And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

John 14:14  If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

John 14:15  If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:16  And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

John 14:17  Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

John 14:18  I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

John 14:19  Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.

John 14:20  At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.

John 14:21  He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.


Mat 21:8  And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strowed them in the way.

Mat 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.

Mat 21:10  And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?

Mat 21:11  And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.

Jesus enters Jerusalem as the multitudes cut down branches from the trees and laid them down in the way.  All of the city is moved by his entrance.  They cried out “Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”   Many ask who this is, and others answer that he was Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.  But he was so much more than a prophet… he was their future king.   And one day, and not long from now, Jesus will sit on that throne of David and rule the nations of this world.

II.  Jesus’ Second Purification of the Temple

Mat 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,

Mat 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.

People sometime perceive Jesus as a weak person because he taught how we should be meek in our lives.  But Jesus was strong and a real man when he needed to be, and when he saw these people making a house of merchandise out of the temple, he took a cord of strands and drove out these moneychangers who were there to make money at the temple.  And while they may not be selling doves at the temple today, be sure there are many who use the name of God to raise money for themselves today.   I would not want to be a person who made money off the name of the Lord in this life.   Jesus was upset with these who had made the temple into a den of thieves.   He tells them that  God’s house should be a house of prayer.


J. Vernon McGee had some excellent insights on the Lord coming into Jerusalem.

When you consider the four Gospel records together, they present a composite picture. The obvious conclusion is that He did not enter the city on only one day but on three separate days.

The first time was on Saturday, the Sabbath Day. There were no money changers on that day, and He looked around and left, “And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve” (Mark 11:11). He entered as Priest.

The second day He entered Jerusalem was on Sunday, the first day of the week. The money changers were there, and He cleansed the temple (vv. 12–13). On this day He entered as King.

The third day He entered Jerusalem was on Monday, the second day of the week. At that time He wept over Jerusalem, then entered the temple and taught and healed (see Luke 19:41–44, 47–48). He entered as a Prophet that day.

As we compare these three records in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, it becomes apparent that they record three different entries, and I believe that our Lord entered Jerusalem on three consecutive days and in three consecutive roles—as Priest, as King, as Prophet. And He retired each day to Bethany. Apparently, He did not spend the night in the city until He was arrested.

Remember that the so-called triumphal entry ended at the cross. But He will come the second time in triumph. The writer to the Hebrews puts this together in a wonderful way: “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Heb. 9:28). We are told in Zechariah 14:4 that when He comes the next time to this earth, His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives—that’s where He will touch down. Then when He enters the city of Jerusalem, that will be the triumphal entry! I cannot call these three entries into Jerusalem triumphal entries because He is on His way to the Cross to die for your sin and my sin.

After the Lord cleansed the temple, many came to Him for help:  [i] 

Mat 21:14  And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.

Mat 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,

Mat 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?

Jesus was always about doing good.  It says the blind and lame come to him in the temple, and he healed them.   Isn’t it sad to see this attitude by the chief priests and scribes.  If they had been close to God, they would have rejoiced in seeing these miracles come to pass.   But they were not.   Jesus reminds them that scriptures taught that out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou has perfected praise… they praised Christ in say “Hosanna to the son of David.”

III.  The Barren Fig Tree is Cursed

Mat 21:17  And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.

Mat 21:18  Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered.

Mat 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.

The fig tree has always been a picture of Israel.  Israel had become a fruitless nation for the Lord.   They had become a great tree of religion with lots of leaves, but no fruit.  You know if God looks in our lives and never sees any fruit, it has to be disappointing.  Our goal every day should be to try and lead someone to Jesus.   We can’t save anyone, but we can tell them about Christ, and He can sure save them.

Mat 21:20  And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!

Mat 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.

Mat 21:22  And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

 We see Christ curse this fig tree, and it immediately withers away.  Israel has been cut off because of unbelief today.. and the Gentiles have been chosen to be Christ’s witnesses.  The fig tree should be something we can learn a lesson about.   Without Christ, we can do nothing.   And our lives need to be fruitful lives.   Don’t be disappointed when many won’t hear you.  Things are drawing to a close soon.  But if we only reached one more between now and the time Christ returns, it would be worth it all.  Salvation is for an eternity.  What love God had for us when He sent Jesus to die on that old rugged cross.  We have a great promise from the Lord about prayer.  If we have faith, we can move mountains.  In this life, there are many mountains.  Mountains of disappointment, mountains of financial troubles, possibly mountains of trials.   Whatever we face, with Christ’s help, we can overcome.   We need to pray for God to show us His will for our lives, and then give us the ability to fulfill that will.   Ask in prayer believing, and you will receive.


IV.  Jesus’ Authority Questioned

Mat 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?

Mat 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.

Mat 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?

Mat 21:26  But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet.

Mat 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.

The chief priests and elders come and question with what authority Jesus did these things.   They were probably referring to the purification of the temple, the healing of the blind and lame, and his teaching in the temple.  He taught like no other had ever taught.   Jesus asks them a hard question, and they can not answer him because they feared the people.  Jesus does not give them an answer.  But the reality was that He was God Himself, and had total authority to do whatsoever He desired.  This was the maker of heaven and earth and the whole universe.   And these come and question “His authority.”   Without God, we may think we have power, but we are truly powerless.

John 15:2  Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

John 15:3  Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

John 15:4  Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

John 15:5  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.

V.  The Parable of the Two Sons

Mat 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.

Mat 21:29  He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.

Mat 21:30  And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.

Mat 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.

Mat 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.

The first son first denies his  father and says he will not go and work in the vineyard.  But later he repents and goes and does what his father desired him to do.   The second claimed he would go, but he never did go.   The second son represents the self-righteous.   Many today claim they will do whatever God wants them to do, but when he calls, they are never going where God would have them to go.   Sometimes we have a major call to a mission field around the world, but our call may be to go and see the widow or the fatherless child.  Or maybe to minister to our neighbor, or that harsh man or woman at work who has no knowledge of the love the Lord.   Let’s not be like the second son… let’s go and do the Father’s Will.    Jesus teaches in verse 31 that the harlots and the publicans will enter into heaven before the self righteous.   John preached unto all, and the Jews rejected John’s teachings.   But the publicans and harlots believed, repented, and received salvation.   The Pharisees did not believe John… they trusted in their religion and their self righteousness.  It is not enough.

VI.  Parable of the Householder

Mat 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:

Mat 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.

Mat 21:35  And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.

Mat 21:36  Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.

Mat 21:37  But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.

Mat 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.

Mat 21:39  And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.

This parable is clearly about Israel.  Time and time again God sent his prophets to Israel demanding fruit of them, but they killed the prophets.  At last, the Householder, sent forth his own son.   God did this when He sent Christ, and again, they rejected Him and killed Him.

Mat 21:40  When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?

Mat 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.

Jesus questions what the Lord of the Harvest would do to these mean husbandmen.   The  Pharisees knew what should have been done.   God would let out the vineyard to other husbandmen, which is us, the Gentiles today.   Out of the Gentiles, God has taken out a portion from them to become a people for his name.

Mat 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?

Mat 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.

Mat 21:44  And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.

Jesus answers and tells them that the scriptures teach that the stone that the builders rejected has become the head of the corner.   This stone is Jesus, and whosoever falls on this stone shall be broken.  But on whomsoever if falls in judgment, those will be ground into a powder.

Mat 21:45  And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.

Mat 21:46  But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.

The chief priests and Pharisees heard the parables, and they recognized that it was against them that Christ spake.   They wanted to take him and destroy him, but they could not for the people.  But they would plot and scheme, and soon would take him.   But not before it was time.

John 7:30  Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.


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Prov 4:18  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.


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[i]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.