Matthew 21

Before Reading.

  • Centering prayer— Pray for illumination, “Lord, open my heart and mind by the power of the Holy Spirit,” and remain in silence.


  • Read slowly, keeping any words or phrase that come to your mind, and mark on them.
  • Close eyes and meditate on what you read.
  • Take a note if you have question, inspiration.   

Read Matthew 21

At Jerusalem.

The gospel of Matthew records that Jesus begins his ministry at Galilee, going through Samaria and Judea, and he completed it at Jerusalem.

Chapter 21-27 records Jesus’ ministry for a week at Jerusalem before his resurrection.  

The triumphal entry (1-11) —- Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem is fulfillment of prophecy by prophet Zechariah (Zechariah 9:9), which celebrates God’s defeat of Israel’s enemies and establishment of God’s reign. The procession parodies military parade with king and people who welcome him.  But riding on a donkey, not war horse represents humble service, not domination, intimidation, and greatness, whereas the people shouting, Hosanna to the Son of David, seeing Jesus as military King. These people later shouted, crucify him.

Cleaning the temple (12-17) – The animals for sale are acceptable for sacrifice, and the money changers change Gentile coins into Jewish money that could be presented in the temple. Both animals and money are needed for offering the sacrifice in the temple. Jesus’ cleansing the temple is his prophetic act on new temple that Jesus will build by his death and resurrection.

The fig tree (18-22) – A withered fig tree symbolizes judgement. Cursing the fig tree symbolizes God’s wrath against the leaders expressed in the Temple’s destruction by Rome in 70AD. Destructed temple prophecy contrasts with a new temple, faith community of disciples marked by prayer and faith, which is seen on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2).

The authority of Jesus (23-27) – The leaders who challenge Jesus’ authority calculate an attempt to answer, rather than seeking the truth about who Jesus is.

Two parables (28-46) – Jesus attacks the leaders, not all Israelites, in two parables that shows their greed and injustice. The parable of the wedding banquet at the beginning of chapter 22 is also in this category. The first parable is about action against empty word. The leaders condemn themselves for not doing God’s will. The second parable uses an allegorical interpretation for Jerusalem’s fall as punishment for the leaders’ unfaithfulness.

Leaders, Pharisees and chief priests, hear the condemnation from Jesus’ parable, but they do not agree with him. They do not take the opportunity to repent. They do not understand Jesus as God’s Son. They attempt to do what parable’s tenants did. The tension is intensified. 

After Reading —- Reflection and prayer.

  • Reflect on this question, “What does God speak to me today in this chapter?
  • Pray that God’s word today be the way, the life, and the truth to you.
  • Live it out through the day.

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