Thursday, May 15, 2008

Matthew, Chapter 21 part 1

Chapter 21 of Matthew is another chapter that needs to be split into two parts because of the information in it. Today we will be dealing with verses 1 through 22. This primarily concerns Jesus' triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem one week before His death. The chapter begins with this story, which is the origin of Palm Sunday. Jesus enters the city with His disciples as the conquering king. Those that followed Him believe that He was finally going to take the throne properly as the king of Israel. To them it was a big day. They didn't believe Jesus' pronouncements of His impending death. Instead they viewed Him as a one man conquering army. This began the climax of Jesus' public ministry, but only He knew what truly lied ahead.

8A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9The 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!"

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

 11The crowds answered, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee." – Matthew 21:8-11

I admit that this seems a little over the top for Jesus, but He was making a statement. It almost comes off like He is a professional wrestler entering the ring to much fanfare. It is certainly a stark contrast to the events we will see a week later when many of these same people were calling for His death. Jesus needed to make this statement, however. He further ingratiated the people when He immediately went to the temple and cleared it. The money changers and vendors in the temple had defiled the scared place by selling the animals needed for sacrifices at exorbitant prices. The closest thing I can compare this to is if a fee was charged every time someone confessed at a Catholic church. In this, Jesus was controlled in His anger. This was not a tantrum, but a task He had to perform in order to clean His Father's house for its intended use.

19Seeing 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.

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

 21Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, 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." – Matthew 21:19-22

This final section is both encouragement for His disciples before they were sent out to spread the gospel and a message for us today. The fig tree parable is a message that reminds the disciples that they can overcome anything with the power of God behind them. Since they were soon going to be commissioned to spread the Word of Christ to the world, they would need this. It is also a message for us to keep our own faith built up through prayer.

I must admit there are times, like now, where this seems like a stretch. Sometimes it even seems like there is a certain futility when it comes to prayer. We all struggle with this at one time or another. Even when we are given the promises that God is listening and answers all prayer, we must accept that sometimes that answer can be a no. This doesn't mean God is mean. It just means He has a better plan in mind. WE at least have the confidence to know from this parable that all things are possible through prayer.


  1. Why did Jesus have such an over the top entry?
  2. How did the clearing of the Temple both help and hurt Jesus?
  3. What is your opinion on the power of prayer?

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