Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg

with Tom Fuller


An Army of One

Matthew 21:1-17

Matthew 21 marks the beginning of the end for Jesus\' public ministry on earth. He\'s been driving towards Jerusalem and now rather than avoid confrontation and public declaration of who He is, He accepts the crowds calling Him the Messiah and actively confronts those that are standing in the way of people coming to the Lord in a new relationship.

?

Essentially this represents a changing of the guard. No more are the Jewish leaders charged with representing God to the people. Now the Lord Himself has come down to bring the truth-which stands in pretty stark contrast by this time to what the religious leaders in Israel were saying and doing. They had co-opted God\'s message to serve their own needs. Jesus is taking the message back in a forceful way.

?

He will do it through actions and words (both in parable form and in actual verbal arguments)-and predicts the end of one system and the beginning of another. Though Jesus arrives in peace as was prophesied, no one should mistake two things: 1) this is the King riding into His city and 2) Jesus is invading what has become enemy territory to reclaim what was His.

?

Jesus as the invading king does several important things: He announces His presence and is welcomed by the people. He declares by his actions (riding on a colt) that he comes in peace-peace to his subjects but not peace to the tenants who have done a miserable job running things in his absence. He then clears out his palace, shows by His actions that he comes to heal, and declares that the old regime is both fruitless and finished.

?

1 - 5 - He comes in peace to His subjects, but not to the tenants

?

The two villages in question are Bethphage and Bethany-about a mile apart and a couple of miles from Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives. Jesus has walked everywhere so now wanting to ride on a colt is very significant. It\'s because Jesus is fulfilling a prophecy, claiming His kingship out of Isaiah 62:11 and Zechariah 9:9. Though he comes riding on a donkey, a beast of burden and a gesture of peace, he is still an invader and a king.

?

6 - 11

?

This was the beginning of a week celebrating the rescue from Egypt-Jesus rides into town ready to be both the rescuer and the means of rescue from an Egypt of a whole different king-the slavery to sin. The disciples were to make sure the owner of the donkey and colt (that Jesus rode) knew they were not being stolen. Interesting that Jesus is concerned about how someone feels, even though a normal king would simply take it without thought.

?

The idea of the cloaks comes from 2 Kings 9:13 when the people put their cloaks on the steps for King Jehu.

?

The people cut down fig, olive and as John records, palm branches. It was to denote the victory of a liberator. This is one of the few times Jesus\' ministry on earth was recognized. The shouting, branches, cloaks, quoting Messianic Psalms-all means they were proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah. As we talked about on Palm Sunday, it was the culmination of centuries of waiting.

?

But what the people don\'t know is that Jesus is not coming as a nationalistic leader but a sacrificial lamb and not as a liberator from Rome but as a liberator from sin and from a religious system that had placed a crust of fake-righteousness between the people and really coming to God.

?

12 - 13 He cleans out His palace

?

Jesus\' first stop in His takeover was the Temple. Jewish males were to come three times a year to the Temple. One of those was the Passover, where they were to offer a lamb from their flock without blemish. The religious leaders had set up four markets on the Mount of Olives originally to help those who had come from a long distance to buy a lamb instead of having to transport one. At some point those markets were relocated to the Court of the Gentiles. The huge outer court was as close to the Temple that Gentile converts could go. It was so filled with money-making commerce that Gentiles could hardly worship. Josephus writes that in A.D. 66 over 255,000 lambs were sacrificed. The religious leaders didn\'t mind as it lined their pockets.

?

Also money-changers changed Roman Dracmas into Jewish Shekels because the image of Caesar was an idol to the Jews. They made an exorbitant amount in the exchange.

?

This is the second time that Jesus has cleared the Temple. Jesus quotes Isaiah 56:7. The Temple was to be used to seek God, not make a profit. Does that ring any bells today? Does something like this exist today? Yes, not in the courts of the temple, but in the TV studios. There, greed is king, and they keep people away from God just as much.

?

14 He shows by his actions that He comes in peace to heal

?

So just as soon as Jesus threw out the disease of greed, suddenly the real purpose for the temple and for Jesus\' presence and mission comes about-those who are weak, in need, sick-come for healing, and the innocent began to praise and worship. The temple was a picture of God\'s presence among his people. Jesus literally fulfills that. And when God comes, he comes to reach out to those in need, but to do that he must clear out both the temple and the people in charge of it.

?

So now the spiritually blind and lame who need Jesus\' healing come to accuse, rather than be healed.

?

15 - 17

?

It\'s interesting that the same word for the reaction of the Chief Priests and Scribes is used in chapter 20:24 for the reaction of the disciples to James and John\'s power grab. They weren\'t just annoyed, they were ticked off!

?

Why? They were indignant of the adoration to Jesus, the actions of Jesus, and later, the authority of Jesus. They decried his presence, his power, and his position.

?

Notice here that the sounds of haggling over merchandise had been replaced with the voices of praise for the Messiah. Profit making had been replaced with prophet praising. Jesus continues his theme of coming to God in child-like innocence. ?Psalm 8:2 is considered a Messianic Psalm. The Sadducees (Chief Priests) and Pharisees (Scribes) are far from done and will return for a bigger debate the next day.