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?