Matthew 21

Matthew 21 has preparation going on for Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  His disciples are in the dark, but Jesus tells them to go secure a donkey He can ride.  “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, The Lord needs them, and he will send them at once”. Seems like a crazy plan, but they follow His direction and things go exactly as Jesus said.  The owners asked, they told them why they were taking their donkey, and off they go.  God at work to prepare the way.

Jesus fulfills prophecy by riding this donkey into town.  The people lined the streets and places branches on the road He was traveling.  And they cried out “Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest”!  The religious leaders were in the dark about Jesus coming to town.  But they quickly found out.  “Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons”.  Jesus stirs up the status quo.  People had sold items for sacrifice and made change for people for many years.  Corrupt and self-focused as it was, the religious leaders allowed it since it supported their traditions.  But Jesus gets to the heart of it and demonstrates God’s wrath regarding people who take advantage of others in the name of religion.

As Jesus walks with the Twelve He becomes hungry and comes upon a fig tree with no fruit.  He curses it and it immediately withers and the disciples are amazed.  Then Jesus gives (again) a truth about prayer we need to understand and cling to.  “If you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, Be taken up and thrown into the sea, it will happen. And  whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith”.  Jesus gives us the secret to answered prayer – it has to be asked in faith.  Total, complete, with out doubt faith.  Prayer is limitless in its power when we ask it with faith.

The chapter ends with a showdown at the synagogue with the religious leaders.  They see Jesus infringing on their turf and undermining their power, so they want to get Him.  They attempt to trap Him with questions but He sees right through their efforts and turns the tables on them.  Then Jesus gives us the truth about God and His plan for mankind.  “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits”.  God is not impressed by title or power or status.  God will bless those who bear fruit – His fruit which is bringing people to Him and helping people grow in their walk with Him.  That’s what God wants from us – to make Him known and to walk in obedience to His Word.  Lightbulbs finally go on.  “When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them”.  Now they will shift to a plot to get rid of Jesus.  Too much risk and competition to their way of life.  They have to get rid of Him.

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