Matthew 20:29 – 21:22

The Presentation of the King: The Son of David and Son of Man
Matthew 20:29 – 25:46
This section records the final presentation of Christ as Son of David and true King of Israel. We might wonder, why is a final presentation needed? Hadn’t the Lord already been rejected in ch.11-12, and hadn’t He already withdrawn from the nation in ch.14-15? Yes. But this final presentation is necessary to fulfill the measure of Israel’s sin, and accomplish the counsels of God. God would not allow His Son to be rejected without first giving the testimony to His royalty. In Daniel 9 we read about “Messiah the prince”. It was necessary in the counsels of God that Christ come to Israel as their rightful Prince, even though He would be rejected. This section can be divided as follows:
– The Presentation of the King: The Son of David and Son of Man Matthew 20:29 – 25:46
– Symbolic Actions: The Presentation of Christ to the Nation Matthew 20:29 – 21:22
– Two Blind Men are Healed by the Son of David Matthew 20:29-34
– The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem of the Son of David Matthew 21:1-11
– The Entrance into the Temple Matthew 21:12-17
– The Withering Fig Tree Matthew 21:18-22
– Parables & Questions: The Hardness of the Jewish Leaders Exposed Matthew 21:23 – 22:46
– Christ’s Authority Questioned by the Jewish Leaders Matthew 21:23-27
– Three Parables that Expose the Hardness of the Jewish Leaders Matthew 21:28 – 22:14
– Three Attempts to Ensnare the Lord in His Words Matthew 22:15-46
– Seven Woes: The Moral Condemnation of the Jewish Leaders Matthew 23
– The Olivet Discourse: the Coming of Christ Matthew 24 – 25
Symbolic Actions: The Presentation of Christ to the Nation
Matthew 20:29 – 21:22

Two Blind Men Healed by the Son of David (20:29-34)

The healing of the blind men is recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke (compare). It is interesting that in Mark and Luke we only read of one blind man, “blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus”, but in Matthew we have two blind men. Also, note that this healing (outside of Jericho) is a totally separate event from the healing of the two blind men in Galilee (Matthew 8:27-31).
 29 And as they went out from Jericho a great crowd followed him. v.29 At this point the Lord has crossed the Jordan river and passed through Jericho (Mark. 10:46). It was in Jericho that He met with Zacchaeus, etc. (Luke 19). This marks the third and final phase of our Lord’s public ministry; in Judea for the six days leading up to His crucifixion. The Lord is on His way to Jerusalem for the last time.
  • In Matt. 4:12 – 18:35 we have the Lord’s Galilean ministry. 
  • In Matt. 19:1 – 20:28 we have the Lord’s Perean ministry. 
  • In Matt. 20:29 – 27:66 we have the Lord’s Judean ministry.
This was the same path taken by Joshua as he led Israel into the promised land. Jericho was the place of a curse (Josh. 6:26), but Jesus was about to be made a curse (Gal. 3:13), and so as Messiah He was able to heal even in this place. It is significant that no miracle was done in the city of Jericho. Christ did not come to improve the flesh… He left the it under the curse, and instead gathered to Himself some out of the world. “Great crowds followed Him”, but many did not have genuine faith. We see them in the next chapter crying “Hosannah”, and then just a few days later crying “crucify him, crucify him”.
30 And lo, two blind men, sitting by the wayside, having heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out saying, Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David. v.30 We get a remarkable contrast between these two blind men and the nation of Israel. The nation was spiritually blind. They were about to crucify their own Messiah. But these two men, though physically blind, bear testimony to Jesus as the Son of David. “Son of David” is a title of the Messiah, as the One who would descend from David’s royal line, sit on the throne of Jehovah, and bring in Millennial blessing (Isa. 11:1-5; 2 Sam. 7:16). It is interesting that in Mark and Luke we only read of one blind man, “blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus”, but in Matthew we have two blind men. The number two forms an adequate testimony to the fact that Christ had the power to heal Israel’s spiritual condition of darkness. Their cry “Son of David” shows that they recognize Christ’s connection with Israel, and the Nation’s need of Him. This testimony condemned the Pharisees. This was great David’s greater Son! Opening the eyes of the blind was a miracle reserved for the Messiah alone. The blind man in John 9 had done his research; “Since time was, it has not been heard that any one opened the eyes of one born blind” (John 9:32). But the Messiah had that power! Not only did these men call Jesus by His title “Son of David”, but they recognized His qualifications; “Jehovah openeth the eyes of the blind” (Psa. 146:8), and “then the eyes of the blind shall be opened” (Isa. 35:5). This testimony is given just before the Lord’s final presentation to Israel.
31 But the crowd rebuked them, that they might be silent. But they cried out the more, saying, Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David. v.31 The crowd’s rebuke did not silence them, but rather caused them to cry out the more! The Lord continued for a short time leaving them in this condition, that the testimony might be sounded out. In a similar way, the faithful remnant will be persecuted by the apostate nation. Far from muzzling this testimony, the gospel of the kingdom will go out with ever more fervency. They were asking for mercy, and they knew the Son of David was the right place to go. There is not one record of any person that fell at the Lord’s feet and begged for mercy that did not receive it!
32 And Jesus, having stopped, called them and said, What will ye that I shall do to you? v.32 We are reminded of another time when the “sun stood still” (Josh. 10:13) so Joshua could defeat Israel’s enemies. Here we have the Son of David standing still to speak to two blind men. He knew what they wanted, but He asked them anyway; “What will ye that I shall do to you?” The Lord wants to know what is on our hearts, and wants to see our faith rise up and ask Him. It is remarkable that this was the same road “from Jerusalem to Jericho” (Luke 10:30) where the Priest and the Levite passed by the mugged man in a ditch. It was on this road that the Good Samaritan stopped, had compassion on the man, and helped him. Here we have the Lord, the true fulfillment of the Good Samaritan, stopping on the same path for two blind men!
33 They say to him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened. 34 And Jesus, moved with compassion, touched their eyes; and immediately their eyes had sight restored to them, and they followed him. vv.33-34 They knew what their problem was, but they were powerless to do anything about it, except come to the Lord. They had cried out to Christ for mercy, but He was moved with compassion. He touched the very place where the problem lay, and their eyesight was healed. Their eyes were opened, just as Israel’s eyes will be opened in a spiritual sense to see Christ as they never have before. “Nevertheless when it [Israel] shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away” (2 Cor. 3:16). There must have been a real work of faith in these two men, because they did not go away from the Lord, but followed Him.

The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem of the Son of David (21:1-11)

The Triumphal Entry.

The triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem is important for a number of reasons. First of all, it marked the beginning of the final week of our Lord's life, called the Passion Week. It would have taken place "on the morrow" (John 12:12) after "six days before the passover" (John 12:1); i.e. on the first day of the week. Secondly, the triumphal entry was the final presentation to Israel of their King, the Son of David, at His first coming. It was a final opportunity for them to receive Jesus as their Messiah. After rejecting Him formally this final time, the Lord pronounced "your house is left unto you desolate" (Matt. 23:38). Thirdly, the triumphal entry was prophesied about 550 years earlier by Zechariah the prophet (Zech. 9:9)! It is a clear fulfillment of Messianic prophecy. It also marks the end of of Daniel's 69th week: "unto the Messiah the Prince" (Dan. 9:25). This event was so pivotal in the coming of our Lord that it is recorded in all four gospels.

Parallel passages are: Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-40; John 12:12-19.
 And when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, at the mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, v.1 The mount of Olives lies to the east of Jerusalem. Every learned Jew knew that it was on the mount of Olives that the Messiah would first plant His feet at His advent (Zech. 14:4). The Lord stops there on His way to Jerusalem, because it was needful that His “coming” to Israel be according to prophecy. So He sends two disciples (all things being done in an orderly fashion). Bethphage means “house of un-ripe figs”. It is a picture of the nation of Israel at the time of Jesus; no fruit for God… and yet there is still a hint of fruit in the future. At Christ’s first coming Israel was not ready to receive the blessing He had in store for them, but one day they will produce fruit for Him!
2 saying to them, Go into the village over against you, and immediately ye will find an ass tied, and a colt with it; loose them and lead them to me. 3 And if any one say anything to you, ye shall say, The Lord has need of them, and straightway he will send them. vv.2-3 One of the themes that comes out of this section it the Divine sovereignty that the Lord had over all circumstances. The ass and colt were waiting, tied in a nearby village. They would find it “immediately”, and His control over the minds of all that would speak to them was evident. Under what normal circumstances would the simple reply “the Lord has need of them” convince a man to willing give up his beasts of burden? The answer is that Jesus was the Lord, and He was presiding over every detail including the thoughts of the owner, the donkey, and her colt. It is a typical foreshadowing of the Lord’s ways with Israel. Today, like the donkey, Israel remains tied to a tree, no motion toward Jehovah. They are under the dominion of the Gentiles, but a day will come when the Lord will say, “I have need of them”, and they will be led to Christ to once again be the restored people of the Lord.
4 But all this came to pass, that that might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophet, saying, 5 “Say to the daughter of Zion, Behold thy King cometh to thee, meek, and mounted upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” [Zech. 9:9] 6 But the disciples, having gone and done as Jesus had ordered them, 7 brought the ass and the colt and put their garments upon them, and he sat on them. vv.4-7 The Lord’s entry into Jerusalem was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy (Zech. 9:9). Note the language; “that it might be fulfilled”… an expression indicating an event, without which the prophecy could not be fulfilled (see note). In Mark, Luke, and John only the colt is mentioned, not its mother. Only in Matthew’s gospel do we have the Lord riding on the ass as well as the colt. Why? Two reasons. Firstly, Matthew presents Jesus as the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy, and to fulfill the prophecy to the letter He must ride in on both animals. Secondly, Matthew is a dispensational book, and the two animals have a dispensational significance. The ass was, according to the law of Moses, “unclean” because it neither divided the hoof nor chewed the cud. It is a picture of Israel after the flesh; i.e. they did not walk separately from the idolatrous nations, nor did they have the Word of God abiding in them (Lev. 11:3). Israel had proven that she was ruined by rejecting the Messiah. The firstborn “foal of an ass” must have its neck broken, unless the owner redeemed it (Ex. 13:13; 34:20). The colt represents the remnant of the Jews, naturally sinful (Job 11:12), but redeemed by the blood of Christ. When we get the Lord riding both animals it brings before us the connection between the faithful remnant of the Jews and the historical nation. It is through a remnant that the nation will be restored! (This is similar to how Naomi found blessing through the relationship of Ruth to Boaz.) The disciples might picture the messengers of the gospel of the kingdom, who lead the remnant to Christ and prepare them morally (garments) for His leadership. We read in Deuteronomy 17:16 that Hebrew kings were not to multiply horses. We read in 1 Kings 1:38 that even Solomon was inaugurated by riding on “David’s own mule.” It was God’s mind that all the kings of Israel be meek and lowly, because then they would have a godly reign. What a humble way for the Messiah to enter (“meek and lowly”). The nation expected the Messiah to come in a display of glory (Rev. 19:11), but did not understand the meekness of their Messiah. 
Omissions. Notice that in the quotation from Zech. 9:9 a phrase is left out; "he is just, and having salvation". The omissions have more to do with Christ's second coming than His first coming. It is at His second coming that He will set up a righteous kingdom ("He is just"), although certainly righteousness characterized Him personally at all times. Secondly, He did not come to deliver the Jews from their national enemies ("having salvation"). Instead, He came to pay the redemption price. What perfect accuracy can be observed in the selection and omission of words or phrases in the Old Testament quotations!
8 But a very great crowd strewed their own garments on the way, and others kept cutting down branches from the trees and strewing them on the way. 9 And the crowds who went before him and who followed cried, saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed be he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.” [Psa. 118:25-26] vv.8-9 The multitude was apparently caught up in the excitement of one coming in fulfillment of Zech. 9:9. There is no evidence that there was genuine faith on the part of the multitude, because days later they were calling for the Lord’s blood. But in the excitement, the crowd was moved to call out “Hosanna to the Son of David”, applying Psalm 118:25-26 to the Lord. They were right to apply it to Him! However, the complete fulfillment will be at His second coming. This was not said in mockery… they really thought for a moment that this was the Messiah. Some of the children picked up the cry, and continued it in the temple (v.15). The branches and garments were similar to modern confetti… they were decorating the path that descended the Mount of Olives with symbols of favor. On previous occasions the Lord had rejected such gestures, but here He was orchestrating the circumstances that He might enter as king. The word “hosanna” means “save now”. In their excitement, they thought the moment had come to be delivered from the Romans. These events were under the control of Divine sovereignty. But rather than set up the kingdom at this time, He was going to the cross, to be bound to “the horns of the altar” (Psa. 118:27).
10 And as he entered into Jerusalem, the whole city was moved, saying, Who is this? 11 And the crowds said, This is Jesus the prophet who is from Nazareth of Galilee. vv.10-11 The company entered Jerusalem and the celebration stirred the greater city, who wondered saying “Who is this?” The crowd revealed that their knowledge of Jesus went no further that His being a prophet from the despised region of Galilee. As they had done with many other prophets, they would shortly be calling for His blood.

The Entrance into the Temple (21:12-17)

The temple cleansing. The Lord cleansed the temple twice: once on His first ministerial visit to Jerusalem (John 2:13-17) and again just before the Cross on His third visit (Matt. 21:12-14; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46). On a very basic level, this shows that initial cleansing was only temporary. The salesmen and money changers brought it all back in again. Christendom is really no different, for we see a very similar condemnation given to the false church in Rev. 17-18. We should never use Christianity for personal gain. The Lord here gives a great example of righteous anger (Eph. 4:26). The initial cleansing is recorded only in John’s gospel, and it is remarkable that He calls it “my Father’s house”, for in John it is the Son defending the honor of His Father. The second cleansing is recorded in the synoptic gospels, and it is remarkable that He calls the temple “my house”, because it is more His connection with Israel that it in view.

Cleansing of the Temple (21:12-14)

 12 And Jesus entered into the temple of God, and cast out all that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those that sold the doves. v.12 The reason for the animal salesmen in the temple was that some who traveled from a great distance could not bring an animal all that way, and so they would bring money instead, buy an animal, and have it offered. The Lord was not rebuking that practice (see Deut. 14:24-26), but rather the practice of charging exorbitant prices and extorting the poor. The money changers would do currency conversion for strangers, collecting a markup on that transaction as well. This is but a partial fulfillment of Mal 3:1-2, which speaks of the full review and cleansing that the Messiah would perform at His coming; “…and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap.”
13 And he says to them, It is written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer,” [Isa. 56:7] but “ye” have made it a den of robbers. v.13 At His first visit to the temple the Lord calls it “a house of merchandise”. He seems to be more upset that the money-making was being carried on in the temple. The place for this was in the business market. But at His second visit He calls it “a den of robbers”, apparently more angry with the extortion that was going on.
14 And blind and lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. v.14 The Lord allowed the “blind and lame” to come right into the temple from which He had expelled the merchants. Under the Levitical order the blind and lame were prevented from sacrificing at the altar, but not from entering the house of God (Lev. 21:18). We see a beautiful contrast here between David and the Son of David. After the Jebusites taunted David that the blind and the lame (handicapped folk) would beat him back from taking the city, it says that the blind and lame were “the hated of David’s soul” (2 Sam. 5:6-8). That event caused a prejudice in David’s heart that gave rise to a saying, “The blind and the lame shall not come into the house”. By contrast, here the Son of David enters Jerusalem and receives there the blind and lame, and heals them. Here is the true King of Israel… full of righteousness and full of grace! The Lord’s heart was free from prejudices. Note: to David’s credit, it would appear that it didn’t take long for him to get over his bitterness, because in ch.9 we find him requesting lame Mephibosheth to abide at his table forever! Also, not all expositors agree that David was wrong. Kelly and Rossier think David’s reaction was wrong, while Darby views it as an act of faith.

Outrage of the Sanhedrin at the Cries of Hosanna (21:15-17)

15 And when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonders which he wrought, and the children crying in the temple and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David, they were indignant, 16a and said to him, Hearest thou what these say? vv.15-16a The wonderful scene in the temple was spoiled by the Jewish leaders. They could not contest the propriety of “the wonders which he wrought”, but the cries of the children were more than the leaders could bear. Who does this one think he is? They were steeped in religious unbelief. The concept that the application of Psa. 118 and the title “Son of David” to Jesus could be accurate was beyond their comprehension. “Hearest thou what these say?”… they thought the only reason He wouldn’t rebuke the cries was that He hadn’t heard them.
16b And Jesus says to them, Yea; have ye never read, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?” [Psa. 8:2]  v.16b The children in their simplicity were uttering the praise the Son of David was so worthy of! … the same praise that ought to have been rendered by the shepherds of Israel, but was stalled by their pride and unbelief. The Son of David had come to His people, and God saw to it that there were willing mouths to chant His praises! The leaders were unwilling, so the privilege fell to the children.
17 And leaving them he went forth out of the city to Bethany, and there he passed the night. v.17 Next we have a symbolic action: having been rejected in His royal entrance, the Lord “left them”, and went out of the city. The Biblical record does not indicate that Jesus spend even one single night in Jerusalem before His arrest. He stayed outside the city with His own, in the town of Bethany, and came back to Jerusalem in the morning to continue His testimony.

The Withering Fig Tree (21:18-22)

 18 But early in the morning, as he came back into the city, he hungered. v.18 The final event in this series of symbolic actions is the cursing of the fig tree. It gives us a complete picture of Israel from a dispensational viewpoint. First, the Lord came into the city in a state of hunger. God called Israel to be a fruit-bearing nation (Isa. 5), and when the Messiah came to them He was still seeking fruit. See Luke 13:6-9; Matt. 21:17-20; Matt. 24:32-33.
19 And seeing one fig-tree in the way, he came to it and found on it nothing but leaves only. And he says to it, Let there be never more fruit of thee for ever. And the fig-tree was immediately dried up. v.19 Mark says that “the time of figs was not yet”, meaning that the time for the gathering of figs was not come, but at this time of year the tree should have been full of ripening fruit. In most Mediterranean fig trees the fruit appears before the leaves. Instead, the Lord found nothing but leaves (a profession of life, Gen. 3:7), but no fruit (reality). The fig tree is a common picture of the nation of Israel. When Christ came to the nation, there ought to have been fruit for Him, but instead there was only empty profession. The governmental consequence is a curse; “let there be never more fruit on thee for ever… and the fig-tree was immediately died up”. On account of Israel’s unbelief, all their natural advantages would be stripped away. The point is, the rejection of Jesus was the final straw, and brought an end to any hope for Israel after the flesh, “for ever”. In a larger way, Israel is but a sample of the First Man, who was judged at the cross. Note: in Mark 11:20 we learn that the cursing happened on one morning, and the disciples remark on it the next morning. Matthew leaves out the 24 hours to emphasize the immediacy of the withering.
Israel’s Restoration. Prophetically, the fig tree will flourish again (Matt. 24:32-33), but it will not bear fruit through the efforts of the flesh. The Spirit of God is able to make it grow; “For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant.” (Job 14:7-9).
20 And when the disciples saw it, they wondered, saying, How immediately is the fig-tree dried up! 21 And Jesus answering said to them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and do not doubt, not only shall ye do what is done to the fig-tree, but even if ye should say to this mountain, Be thou taken away and be thou cast into the sea, it shall come to pass.  vv.20-21 The disciples are amazed at how a lush and apparently vibrant a tree could suddenly become withered. How could such an ancient religious system as Judaism suddenly be set aside in the dispensational ways of God? The answer is: faith. It is faith that displaces the natural religious system of Judaism. “This mountain” symbolized Israel’s exalted place among the nations. The mountain has been cast into the sea; picturing the masses of the Gentiles (Rev. 17:15). This has come to pass. Jerusalem, Israel’s geopolitical center, was destroyed, and the Jews scattered among the Gentiles. Upon whose sentence did this judgment hang? The disciples. We see this in the early chapters of Acts, as a final offer was extended to the nation of Israel. But, that offer being rejected, Israel’s doom was sealed (Acts 7). Judaism was the greatest obstacle to Christianity in the earth, but it could be overcome by faith. The withering of the tree is Israel’s moral judgment (29 A.D.), and the mountain cast into the sea is Israel’s geo-political judgment (70 A.D.).
22 And all things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. v.22 For the disciples in the kingdom of heaven, the very thing lacked by the nation of Israel which became their downfall (faith) would be the key to the remnant’s blessing in Christianity. 
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