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Matthew 21 Reading Guide

Dig In:

Chapter Overview:

  • v1-11 - This is Matthew's account of the 'triumphant' entry into Jerusalem, riding in as kings long ago used to. I've written before that this ought to instead be called the 'penultimate' entry, since it points forward to the Jesus' truly triumphal entry in Revelation 19:11-21.

  • v12-17 - Jesus upends the money making enterprises that had overtaken God's temple, the symbolic location of God's presence among His people. It doesn't take long for the establishment to show up in response to 'the wonderful things Jesus did.'

  • v18-22 - In the very cryptic account of the withered fig tree, Jesus pulls in a ton of Old Testament theology. Read a previous post to understand this more.

  • v23-27 - The establishment attempts to debate the Son of God, with predictable results. It becomes clear in v26 that the establishment is more concerned with their poll numbers and popularity than with the truth.

  • v28-46 - Jesus hammers the establishment with two more parables demonstrating the dire implications of rejecting the Son of God as they were doing.

Dig Deeper:

In the parable of the two sons in v28-32, Jesus shows that it was the first son who, although was rebellious at first, went on to do what his father wanted. It's the second son, the one who initially committed himself to do his father's work but then didn't carry through, that Jesus warns about in a very candid way:

“Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you (v31)."

The 'establishment' that Jesus was speaking to were men who in every outward way seemed ready to do God's work, but when it came down to it, ignored God's call because they were too busy pursuing their own interests. So Jesus tells them that the most reviled members of society and least likely to be considered Godly would enter into the Kingdom first. Why?

  • (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 work your Father is calling you to do is not difficult, but He's not impressed with lip service. He wants results. The Father's work for you is to simply "repent and believe." The wonderful truth this parable helps illustrate is that anyone, no matter their history, is able to accomplish this task by the power of the Holy Spirit, and so anyone is able to be a true son of God the Father and enter His Kingdom.

This work of repenting and believing is not a one and done task. Furthermore, as you continue to complete this task day in and day out for the remainder of your life, you'll certainly notice other work the Father is calling you do.

Don't make the mistake the establishment did which left them out in the cold. Repent and believe the good news.


Psalm 8:2 (NIV)

Through the praise of children and infants

you have established a stronghold

against your enemies,

to silence the foe and the avenger.


Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions:

  1. EYE FOR DETAIL— In this chapter Jesus told His disciples that they would receive whatever they asked for in prayer, but He attached a condition to that promise. What was the condition? (See verse 22.)

Is Jesus giving us a “blank check” in verse 22? If not, then why does He make this statement?

Thomas, Mack. The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament

Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Hosanna (Lord, save us!) in the Highest Heaven (v9, 15).

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray for strength to produce fruit in God's Kingdom (v43).



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