Matthew 21

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Read Matthew 21

Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King

21 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

“Say to Daughter Zion,
    ‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
    and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Jesus at the Temple

12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”

14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.

16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.

“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,

“‘From the lips of children and infants
    you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”

17 And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.

Jesus Curses a Fig Tree

18 Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.

20 When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked.

21 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

The Authority of Jesus Questioned

23 Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”

24 Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25 John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?”

They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”

27 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”

Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

The Parable of the Two Sons

28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”

“The first,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.

The Parable of the Tenants

33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.

35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.

38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”

41 “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

“‘The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes’?

43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”

45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46 They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.

Go Deeper

In Matthew 21, we see the Triumphal Entry take place. Ironically, when you hear Triumphal Entry, you probably don’t envision a donkey. The image that comes to mind is likely a bunch of massive white horses pulling a large chariot that is decked out in jewels and gold with royalty inside. This is what the people of Israel envisioned as well. They had been promised a king that would overthrow their oppressors. They expected a great warrior to come in and defeat their enemies (in this case, the Roman government). What they got was a “king coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.” The King that came was the King they needed, not the king they wanted.

Even though Jesus came in on a donkey, the people still praised Him. This did not last long, however. Jesus did not fulfill the prophecies the way that the people thought He should, so a week later, the same people shouting “Hosanna!” were shouting “Crucify Him!” What about you? Do you worship the king you want or the true King you need? When God does not go about His plan the way we think He should, do we still shout “Hosanna!” or do we shout “Crucify Him!” and turn to the sinful world to direct us?

Look around you. The world is not built to last, no matter how hard we try. The reality is that the sinful people (including everyone reading this right now) that got us into the messes we are in are attempting to get us out. How is that working for us? Debauchery of all kinds is on the rise year after year, yet we still think we can get ourselves out of it. Maybe if we just have the right leader, maybe if we just save up enough money, maybe if we just post the right infographic on our social media profile, maybe if we just educate ourselves enough about every issue, and the list goes on and on. If we are the cause of the problem, we cannot also be the solution.

The only solution is Jesus. However, His solution is the one we need, not the one we want. Where the world tells us that we can figure it out, God says He has already figured it out if we would just submit to Him. This is not popular, but neither was Jesus.

In Matthew 21 we see Jesus turning over tables in the temple, killing fig trees that do not produce fruit, angering the most educated and religious elites, and telling parables about servants sent by a master being killed by tenants. Jesus is calling out lukewarm, cultural Christianity (which is actually non-existent Christianity) while also showing us how the world will treat us when we live like Jesus calls us to live. 


  1. As a servant of the Lord, are you being rejected by the world like Jesus was or are you fully accepted by the world because you look just like the world? 
  2. Ask your community what your blind spots are. Are you allowing God’s plan and wisdom to rule your life or trying to solve your own man-made problems with man-made solutions?
  3. Ask these same people what you do that sets you apart from the world because of your love for Jesus. If they cannot come up with an answer, ask why.

By the Way

Jesus’s entry into the city fulfills one of the Messianic prophecies listed in the Old Testament. This one comes from Zechariah 9:9. D.A. Carson, a New Testament scholar, makes this observation: 

“If we assume that Matthew understood Hebrew, the full quotation affirms that Jesus rode on the ‘colt,’ not its mother. Mark and Luke say the animal was so young that it had never been ridden. In the midst, then, of this excited crowd, an unbroken animal remains calm under the hands of the Messiah who controls nature.”

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3 thoughts on “Matthew 21”

  1. Meditating on today’s passage I see the huge contrast between the humility of Christ and the pride of the Pharisees. Finally his time has come to fulfill prophecy (thanks to Matthew for continuing to connect the Old & New Testament). He notices and heals the blind and the lame in the Temple, while the religious leaders become indignant. This “house of God” has become a den of thieves, yet the Pharisees turn a blind eye to the sham. Jesus exposes their hearts and murderous plot to take his life. Instead of repenting they are incensed. Where has pride crept into our lives? I’ve seen it destroy loved ones & families and fight it in myself on a daily basis. It’s subtle, seemingly harmless ways are one of the greatest tools of the enemy. 1 John 2:15-16 instructs us to “Stop loving this evil world and all it offers you, for when you love the world, you show that you do not have the love of the Father in you. Everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, the pride of life, comes not from the Father but from the world.” Taking Christ’s humble example, I’m determined by his spirit to root out the ugly pride in my heart, so that I may worship him and him alone.

  2. We (me) say the right things, do the right things, check the boxes daily that says we did “good”. Did we give God our lives? Did we fully submit it ALL areas of our lives? I truly want to give my life to Christ and be a follower, a doer for Him. So multiple times a day I must lay down my thoughts and actions to give them back to God. He always helps me through the Holy Spirit to get back on track. He has promised us salvation, redemption, restoration, joy, peace, power to assist us in all we do but we have to fully submit and for me everyday I start again. Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Everyday, multiple times a day, Ephesians 4:22-24 ESV 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
    Thank You God that You let me change my mind. Thank You for helping me get rid of the negative, hateful, ugly thoughts and replace them with grateful thankful blessings. God sometimes I feel I over use the word Thank You but I am!!! I am grateful and blessed beyond measure. I give You all the glory, honor and gratitude for holding my hand through this world. God You are so goood !!!! Thank You for letting Your light so shine from me and that I get to say BUT GOD!!!!! To Him be the GLORY!!!! in Jesus name amen

  3. I love this passage. So much hope and comfort in Jesus. 🙌🏻
    Several verses referenced scripture I’ve been studying.
    Verses 1-17 tied with Galatians 4:4-5
    4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. (Read the first 8 words repeatedly)
    What a comfort to those in waiting…who are being still…God’s timing is worth the wait. For He also says in
    V 22 “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

    V33-45 the Parables of the Tenants
    is again referenced in 1 Peter 2:4-8 Jesus became our precious cornerstone, and we are the living stones.

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