Matthew 21

And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, 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. And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.

All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 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.

And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. 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.

And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.

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, 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.

And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them. 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, 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? And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.

Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. 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. And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!

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.  And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

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?

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

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

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

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.

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:  And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.

And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.  Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.  But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.

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. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.

When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? 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 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? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.

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

Well as with the rest of the Book of Matthew, there is so much contained in this chapter, with the highlight being the Triumphal Entry.

This was a triumphant entry for sure, but one would expect the Messiah, Heir of the Throne of David, to ride in with “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men”; a parade of armor bearing officials… yet as Jesus plainly stated His Kingdom is not of this world.

It didn’t seem to matter though, that Jesus’ entry into the Holy City was ordinary, the people treated the occasion as a royal procession anyway- so much noise and excitement that the people of the city asked, “Who is this?!”

Horses were reserved for great men, and while this was coming upon the greatest event of all time, Immanuel, God with Us… fulfilling prophecy by riding into the city on a donkey.  He came into the city as plainly as He came into the world, but some day His coming will be truly the most magnificent arrival ever recorded , riding on the clouds, arrayed in His Robes of Glory, astride a magnificent horse, with all the saints behind Him.

As usual with the suffering servant, who had no place of His own to lay His head, the donkey wasn’t even His either.  A small thing to the Creator of the universe and all that is in it, God has His ways of using the simple, unexpected and ordinary to make the biggest statements~That the scriptures might be fulfilled.

How the people honored Him, even riding as He did on a poor man’s vehicle.  As in the Feast of the Tabernacles, people would cut palm branches for excitement, liberty and victory; with shouts of Hosanna! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

It’s interesting to note that the people of the Holy City did not recognize Him, they knew Him not… yet the common people did as they joyously answered, This is Jesus!

Jesus came as King, but He is also our High Priest, so instead of storming the palace, Jesus went to His Father’s House, the Temple.  And amazing authority He displayed there as he drove out those who turned a sacrifice into a money making spectacle.  I just read the book of Malachi last week, and it’s very reminiscent,

A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the Lord is contemptible. And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the Lord of hosts.

Jesus in His only real show of authority cleared the Temple, most likely shocking many of the people, those who knew Him, for his force (making chords and whip) and those who were doing ‘business’ heard the authority in His voice, and understood “It is written…“, the authority of Scripture.

So He cleared the Temple of the rich, and made room for the blind and lame.  Such as He is always compassionate and willing to heal physically and spiritually those who need Him. Of course the religious leaders were ‘displeased’, especially with the attention Jesus was receiving from the very people that these leaders were supposed to be relieving of their hard earned money in order to offer up sacrifices. And the fact that children were openly praising Him, How Dare this man rob them of their pay and honor.  And of course Jesus comes back with a perfect retort, not denying the honor or the children.  I can almost picture their tight faces, huge frowns as they close their mouths as Jesus walked away.

This next part, about the fig tree is interesting, and I always wondered about it.  I know that the olive tree is representative of Israel throughout scripture, but with the fig tree, one wonders why Jesus would curse it for not bearing fruit when it was out of season.  For an interesting look at these verses, read this short but informative article here.

Again we have Jesus in the Temple, teaching and the leaders demanding by what authority does Jesus have?

I’m reminded of stories of people who hold Bible studies in their homes, here in the US, it’s pretty much legal, yet sometimes people will be fined for doing so- as if the local HOA or city sees their power usurped- how dare you, who gave you the right, and permission to teach?  Show me your papers….

Jesus had heard this all before, yet they still asked anyway.  So Jesus turns it around on them and asks them a question with a promise to answer theirs if they answer His first, knowing full well they can’t answer.  Their hearts divided, cowardly afraid of the people, and not wanting to admit their blatant disbelief.  They had no answer.

And while Jesus didn’t answer theirs either, it didn’t need one, He did tell a parable, for the people to hear and understand, because they had ears to hear with. The pharisees did not.

Did ye never read in the scriptures?

Of course they had. They studied and taught it, but long had they held it with anything but a ‘job’ doing the duty out of obligation, not out of desire to learn and grow. That’s much like folks within the church these days.  After ‘doing’ out of tradition, the outward actions, the heart often grows cold and the things of this life become more attractive.

I haven’t always taken the Bible fully as I should. There have been times of laziness when I didn’t read it, figuring, I’m too busy, too tired, too much else… I’ll do it tomorrow.  As if it’s a duty.  While it is a duty if one chooses to learn, from the letters of God, it ought to be a desired duty.  I admit oftentimes I still don’t understand what I’m reading, and tend to gloss over some things, yet I always ask to learn whatever He wants me to learn, or whatever I need to know, and it’s always an amazing experience when He does one of those “God things” and lets me truly see something I’ve missed many times before when I’ve just read it without hearing it.

Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

Thank You Lord for your mercy that not only have You in Your infinite wisdom allowed us who are not a part of the natural branch to be grafted in, but that you have plans for both the graft and the vine.

Have a blessed Wednesday all!