Matthew 21 – Gathering 2017-07-09
Jesus comes as King (1-11)
- Hosanna – blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord
- Hosanna – to the son of David
- Hosanna – to the King of Kings
No limousine! No chariot such as would be used by a conquering king! No horse! — Just a borrowed donkey – and not even a saddle
This 10th day of the month leading to the Passover which was to be celebrated on the 14th day.
This was the day the Paschal Lamb should be taken up to the temple.
The day the Lamb of God arrived in Jerusalem, the month of his crucifixion.
It was all part of the great plan of God: he chose to enter not on foot, his usual method of travel but on a borrowed donkey. He owned nothing, not even a place to lay his head, so the donkey must be borrowed and with an assurance that it would be returned!
He knew what lay ahead of him; he even knew the donkey would be ready for him as foretold in Zechariah 9:9
On this day the crowds knew who he was and hailed him as a king but also as Saviour.
Hosanna! They shouted, which means “Save!” Save us!
But fickle as they were, days later they cried, “crucify him”.
Today they draped their clothes on the donkey in place of a saddle and padded the road with cloaks and tree branches.
And so, the whole city was stirred to welcome “Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee”.
- He who comes in the name of the Lord
- He who is the great, promised son of David
- He who rode humbly on a donkey.
It all took place as predicted in Scripture.
Look out! Because Scripture predicts Jesus will return, coming again — and this time as King of Kings!
No donkey this time but with the blast of trumpets!!
Then, ready or not, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess Jesus Christ is Lord!
Jesus at the Temple (12-17)
On arriving in Jerusalem, Jesus the king did not report to the palace to present his credentials but to the Temple, the place you go to to present yourself to the King of the Kingdom of God.
In John’s Gospel we read that the first miracle Jesus did was at a wedding in Cana of Galilee.
Next, being at Passover time, he went to the temple:
13When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16To those who sold doves he said, ‘Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!’ 17His disciples remembered that it is written: ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’
18The Jews then responded to him, ‘What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?’
19Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.’
20They replied, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?’ 21But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
Now, 3 years later, they are back again
- It happens: improper behaviour, even corruption and greed sneak back in unless we are vigilant and alert.
- Carry on legitimate business of course, but where and where it belongs!
- Don’t use people’s spiritual needs to rip them off and to profit at their expense.
When Christians meet, there is the temple of the Holy Spirit, there is our Father’s house, there is a house of prayer.
It’s not a place for thieves, manipulators, users, working under a disguise of pretended piety or religion.
Jesus once again threw out the rogues and went about proper temple business – praying for people, healing people.
And this time, like the first, the reaction of the religious leaders was the same: negative and condemnatory. They ignored the marvellous healing and the children acknowledging him, crying Hosanna!?
As before, they asked, “who do you think you are? By what authority do you do these things? How dare you accept the acknowledgement of the people?”
His reply was to point out that they should have known what to expect. “It is written”, he said. The children know what they are talking about, even if you don’t!
Do we know who Jesus is?
Jesus tells us to come as the children did, to be as open and joyful as the children were, to be exultant and cry, “Hosanna!!”
Jesus curses the fig tree (18-22)
The parables of Jesus are to teach us something. In this case it is a parable delivered in actions
Jesus could show anger appropriately as he did in the Temple.
Jesus did not curse the fig tree out of anger, annoyance, being sorry for himself, frustration, or even hunger.
Jesus the king taught his disciples and so teaches us his kingly right to execute judgement and his kingly power to act.
In fact, in the temple he had acted graciously and with mercy. What if he had treated those misusing the temple in the way he treated the fig tree – with a curse and a withering that took place immediately! That would have been clearly understood and never forgotten. His actions in the temple were simple, harmless, merciful.
The tree looked as if it should have been fruitful, being covered in leaves and so it illustrated the people who look as if they should be fruitful but are not…
The hypocrites, the religious ones, all show and profession, all signs of life but in reality dead in their trespasses and sins.
Branches that bear no fruit but are pruned off, wither, die and are cast into the fire.
We know how strongly Jesus condemned such people!
So Jesus showed his kingly power: the fruitless tree withered immediately – as will all those whom Jesus eventually judges and curses.
The disciples were amazed at the tree withering so suddenly and asked how it could be. He replied with the challenging words in verses 21, 22:
21Jesus 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. 22If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.’
And Mark 9:23,24:
The father of a demon possessed boy brought him to Jesus and said,
“If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
23 ‘ “If you can”?’ said Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for one who believes.’
24Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’
No matter how much I grit my teeth with determination I never seem to be able to rally up enough belief in my capacity to pray for such wonderful things. I need help to overcome my unbelief.
However, I know my Lord Jesus can remove enormous, mountainous obstacles and toss them aside
I have to persevere, face the obstacle and pray –
first and foremost for the faith to continue. Faith is a gift from the Holy Spirit by the grace of God and I continually need my Lord to be so gracious as to grant me the faith needed for each circumstance.
Second to remind myself and to understand that God is in charge
Third to persevere in faith I am given until there is a resolution – that is, the mountain is removed!
And all along I ask along with the father of the boy that Jesus healed. “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
The authority of Jesus (23-27)
Despite the public nature of his miracles and the clarity of his teaching, the question kept coming up: “who gave you authority to do these things?”
And ever since, Christians have been challenged in the same way.
We believe, live and speak with the authority of God’s word, yet people will ask “what gives you the right to tell us what to believe and how to live?”
Jesus responded to the question with a question, V 25:
25John’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?” 26But if we say, “Of human origin” – we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.’
27So they answered Jesus, ‘We don’t know.’
Even today our leaders are fearful of popular opinion, of polls, of the media, of the noisy group, even if it is a minority.
So, they prevaricate, dissemble, answer with spin and even change the subject.
We know that Jesus had his authority as God Almighty, the High Priest and King, and that the Bible and the Holy Spirit has commissioned us to speak – with authority – on his behalf, as his ambassadors, as a priesthood of believers called to be heirs with Christ in the Kingdom of God.
The Parable of the two sons (28-32)
In the Parable of the two sons Jesus spoke to his critics, the chief priests and elders, with a parable which was directly about them.
There were 2 sons of one father
both were expected to be workers even though they were his sons, not hired help
both were given the same work to do by their father
one said , “No” – but changed his mind and went to work
The other said, “Yes” – but did not do as he was asked nor what he committed himself to
Jesus put the question, “Which of these two did what his father wanted?” The first one, of course!
A refusal to obey our heavenly father is impudent, insulting, rebellious and calls for his judgement.
But repentance followed by obedience results in the offence being forgiven and put aside.
A promise to obey is commendable but is of no value if not followed up in action
Neither son was perfect – as are none of us – but one came to his senses.
Knowing the scriptures these religious leaders should have understood whom John the Baptist was and what his message was about.
They should also have known who Jesus was – that he was their promised Messiah.
They had been making promises and commitments for generations and all along failed to follow through.
They should have followed the example of those they despised and repented, obeyed and accepted Jesus as Saviour and Lord.
The Parable of the tenants (33-46)
Even the chief priests and Pharisees knew that this Parable of the Tenants was about them, as it says in verse 45.
But in their pride and anger they looked for a way to avoid the obvious need to repent and instead looked for a way to arrest Jesus.
Yet again fear of public opinion restrained them.
Clearly God the father is the landowner who established his vineyard – his people Israel, the Jewish people.
The servants he sent were the prophets, the spokesmen he ordained and these were beaten, stoned and even killed.
Time and again God sent his spokesmen. Time and again they were rejected just as their predecessors were.
Last of all he sent his son – Jesus.
Once again even he was rejected, beaten and killed.
The parable raises the question, “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”
Even the priests could see that he would bring those wretches to a wretched end and rent the vineyard out to other tenants, tenants who would reap the benefit of the harvest.
In their blindness and fruitlessness the priests and Pharisees were about to lose their place in the kingdom of God and it was to be given to people who would produce its fruit – people like those who submit to the Son; people like us.
Let there be no misunderstanding:
Just as foretold
Just as demonstrated by Jesus’ Cross and his empty tomb
Jesus is the cornerstone, the foundation around which all truth and reality are set, defined and measured.
Do not be one of those who trips and falls, broken to pieces on Jesus the Way, the Truth and the Life.
To do so leads to being lost, to falsehood, to confusion – to death.
And do not be one of those on whom this cornerstone will fall because anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.
He has been set and established by the Lord Almighty and it is a wonderful, marvellous thing to behold, to know and to base our lives upon.
A foundation so secure that it is on Jesus we celebrate and rejoice!