Bible Study
The Gospel of Matthew - Program 23

Roderick C. Meredith (1930-2017)

This Bible Study is part of the "The Gospel of Matthew" series. See other Bible Studies which are part of this series

As Jesus came into Jerusalem, word reached His disciples, then their friends, then their neighbors. By now, tens of thousands had heard about the miracles that Jesus had performed, many of whom realized that this Man was the Son of God or at least a great prophet, who was to become the Messiah. So they spread these clothes out and did all these things.

Greetings, friends around the world!

This is Roderick C. Meredith, bringing you a commentary on the book of Matthew—the introductory book to the entire New Testament, which sets the stage for the New Covenant, the New Testament of Jesus Christ. So let's open up our Bibles. Follow me, if you can; this series will mean a lot more to you if you will. I will be covering Matthew 21 today, opening your minds and hearts if you are open to the book of Matthew and its real meaning.

Matt. 21:1-3

"Now when they drew near Jerusalem [Matthew writes], and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, 'Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, "The Lord has need of them," and immediately he will send them.'"

This was a minor miracle—God guided this man and put it in his heart to let this donkey go.

Matt. 21:4-8

"All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: 'Tell the daughter of Zion, "Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey."' So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road…"

As Jesus came into Jerusalem, word reached His disciples, then their friends, then their neighbors. By now, tens of thousands had heard about the miracles that Jesus had performed, many of whom realized that this Man was the Son of God or at least a great prophet, who was to become the Messiah. So they spread these clothes out and did all these things.

Matt. 21:9-10

[They cried out] "'Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD! Hosanna in the highest!' And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved "

It was not just a few people. When Hollywood makes a movie, they normally show Jesus out by some trash dump with a few itinerant people, or beggars, or some people who don't look like they amount to much. But here was most of the city coming out to meet Jesus—a tremendous number of people.

Matt. 21:11

"…all the city was moved, saying, 'Who is this?' So the multitudes said, 'This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.'"

Theirs was a "historical" interest—like watching MacArthur or Eisenhower going through a ticker-tape parade after returning to New York at the end of World War II. This was a tremendous procession. God did not allow Jesus to be spared for giving His life for the sins of the world. God apparently allowed Paul to be beheaded. All the Apostles, except John, were martyred. But God does give honor to His servants to a limited degree, and He at least moved people to honor His Son before His Son had to die for our sins. All the city was moved and, apparently, thousands lined the way. Apparently hundreds, at least, came right out to meet Him as He entered the city.

Matt. 21:11

So the multitudes said, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee." Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple.

These traders came into God's own temple, which was supposed to be a holy place, and were selling the pigeons and all kinds of animals to be offered—and making money from it. They were probably charging too much. You can imagine the noise, the clutter, the smell, the manure—right in and around the temple of God. This was a stench in the nostrils of the One who was, in fact, God, the One who was among them—God with us, Jesus of Nazareth, Immanuel—the very one to whom this temple was dedicated and who was standing there. He told them what was going on, and what He thought about it. They did not fully know who He was, but He came in and "overturned the tables of the money changers." Some people have the idea that Jesus was a nice, sweet person and would never rattle the table—would never rattle the teacups. But He would and He did! He jerked those tables "and the seats of those who sold doves." He took their chairs and threw them on the ground.

Matt. 21:13

And He said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you [you traders] have made it a 'den of thieves.'"

The traders were taking advantage of the people, even in what they charged them. They were right there and had a monopoly, so to speak, on the animals and the birds that were to be offered at the temple.

Matt. 21:14

"Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them."

…showing, again, that He was God in the flesh; that He was the Messiah because He was able to heal regularly and consistently—person after person.

Matt. 21:15

"But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did…"

…they just rejoiced and thanked God, didn't they? No, they did not! It is usually the religious leaders who get upset. They have their job and their position to defend, and they don't like the Truth when it comes along—they hate it and they fight it! Historically, the religious leaders have been the biggest enemies of the true servants of God down through time. I am sorry to say that, but that is the truth.

Matt. 21:15-21

"But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" they were indignant [mad] and said to Him, "Do You hear what these are saying?" And Jesus said to them, "Yes. Have you never read, 'Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise'?" Then He left them and went out of the city to Bethany [a city just a couple miles outside of Jerusalem], and He lodged there. Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, "Let no fruit grow on you ever again." [We understand that He wasn't mad at a tree; He was teaching a lesson about that society that rebelled against everything God stood for] Immediately the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, "How did the fig tree wither away so soon?" So Jesus answered and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt…"

That is our problem. We don't have that kind of faith today. God is very unreal to us. Most of you watching this watch all kinds of other stuff on the Internet, and on television and in the movies—often rotten, degenerate stuff that ought not be seen, and pictures that put into your mind images of illicit sex and violence, and people taking God's name in vain and using foul language in ways one should never have to hear or see. These things now come pouring right into your living room, making it hard for you to think about the true God—the invisible God of power, the God of the Universe—or to have your mind on Him, because your mind has been seared by all of these influences that are extant in our society.

Matt. 21:21-22

"[But] if you have faith and do not doubt [if God can become more real to you], you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive."

If you ask believing, you have to have faith! Put your faith and trust in God. Read this book. Read the Psalms over and over. Read the New Testament over and over. Have faith in the great God who gives us life and breath—and in the promises He has made.

We have a booklet titled The Real God: Proofs and Promises. This is a wonderful booklet; it tells you about God, and proofs of God and what God is like—in a way you may never have understood before. It is not complicated and it is not about "giving your heart to the Lord." It tells you about the God of creation—the real God—and what He is like and what you ought to do about it. So ask for this booklet, and we will send it to you absolutely FREE and without obligation.

Matt. 21:22-25

"And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him [trying to stir someone up to trap Him] as He was teaching, and said, "By what authority are You doing these things? ["How can you talk this way? Who gives you the right to be right," they were saying.]And who gave You this authority?" But Jesus answered and said to them, "I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: The baptism of John; where was it from? From heaven or from men?"

Christ knew, of course, that these were hypocrites. They knew that the people realized that John was a prophet from God—a prophet from heaven—but they didn't want to believe it because John had been the one to point them to Christ.

Matt. 21:27

"So they answered Jesus and said, 'We do not know.' And He said to them, 'Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.'"

Notice the marvelous way He put them off: "Who gives you the right to be right?" He asked them another question and put them on the defensive.

Matt. 21:28-31

"But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, 'Son, go, work today in my vineyard.' He answered and said, 'I will not,' but afterward he regretted it and went. [and finally did what his father asked] Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, 'I go, sir' but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said to Him, 'The first.'"

That's right! The first son went the wrong way—he gave the wrong answer at the beginning—but he repented and was then willing to do his father's will. That is the whole key! Will you do the Father's will?

They answered first—and at least they did answer right.

Matt. 21:32

Jesus said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors [the Roman tax collectors, whom they hated] and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you" [He said to the religious leaders].

What a statement! These religious leaders would not enter the Kingdom of God as quickly as the tax collectors and the harlots—because they were self-righteous, they would not repent, they would not accept the Messiah and they would not do the will of the Father. They chose to worship God their way—keeping their own ideas.

Matt. 21:32-33

"For John came to you in the way of righteousness [Jesus said], and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him. Hear another parable…"

Then He gave the parable of the landowner who had a vineyard:

Matt. 21:33-42

"'There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit. And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them. Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, "They will respect my son." [here is the example of God the Father sending His Son, Jesus.] But when the vinedressers saw the son [picturing the Son of God coming], they said among themselves, "This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance." So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?' They said to Him [They were " caught" by this parable; they gave the right answer, but in doing so condemned themselves], "He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons." Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: 'The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord's doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes'?"

We read a number of times in the Old Testament about the stone of Israel. Of course, many passages even refer directly to Jesus Christ, the Rock of Israel, and how He was to finally be that stone. One of the most important and direct references is found in Daniel 2. This vision was talking about the four great world-ruling empires, the Babylonian Empire of Nebuchadnezzar, the Medo-Persian Empire and then later the Alexandrine Empire of Alexander the Great—the Greek Empire as it is sometimes called—then you come down to the final great world-ruling empire, the Roman Empire. Talking about these empires, very clearly, God says here in Daniel 2:44:

Dan. 2:44-45

"In the days of these kings [The final kings of the Roman Empire—ten toes, ten kings to arise as a final resurrection of the Roman Empire.] the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. [This great world-ruling Kingdom of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.] Inasmuch as you saw that the stone [He had been describing a stone, as you know.] was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold [of these previous kingdoms]; the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure."

This "great stone"— Jesus Christ—will crush all the kingdoms of this world. He will come back as King of kings and Lord of lords. He won't have to ask anyone's permission to do anything. He will simply take over, and God will teach mankind a lesson that he will never forget.

Matt. 21:42

Jesus said to them, "'The stone which the builders rejected… [This refers to the one who ought to have been the foundation of the true Church—you know that the church which developed after the original Apostles' death was not the true Church founded on Jesus Christ, as they rejected that "stone"] has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord's doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes'?"

As you can see, this verse was quoting Daniel 2:44-45.

Matt. 21:43

"Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it."

"Be taken" from you religious leaders, he said, and given to a different group of people, the people of God—the New Testament Church of God—the "Israel of God" or "little church" or "little flock" as the true Church of God is called.

Matt. 21:44-46

"And whoever falls on this stone [the stone of God, Christ] will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder." Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking of them. But when they sought to lay hands on Him [They were not going to pat Him on the back, they were going to kill Him; I think you realize that.], they feared the multitudes [There was a great multitude of people who just stood in awe of Him, realizing all the miracles He had done and that He must be the Servant of the Great God.], because they took Him for a prophet [which Jesus certainly was.].

That is all for this segment. We will continue right on, next time, in Matthew, chapter 22. So come back and watch again next time as we continue right on through the book of Matthew.

This is Roderick C. Meredith, for the Living Church of God.