As the Lord Jesus went up to Jerusalem, He entered the final phase of His ministry. His first act was to cleanse the temple, and as a result, He met the opposition of the religious leaders, who sought to destroy Him and eventually succeeded in their plot. But through the confrontation, the Lord challenged the old religious establishment and demonstrated His divine authority. Thus, His activities and teachings in the temple served as an important indication that the perfect spiritual temple, for which the earthly temple foreshadowed, was ultimately fulfilled in Christ.
Did You Know...?
1. Bethphage (19:29): A village near the road going from Jericho to Jerusalem.
2. The temple (19:45): The outer court.
3. Chief priests (19:47): The chief priests, the highest Jewish religious leaders, were in charge of the temple. [ref]
4. Give him some of the fruit (20:10): In accordance with a kind of sharecropping agreement, a fixed amount was due the landowner. At the proper time he would expect to receive his share. [ref]
5. Chief cornerstone (20:17): either a capstone over a door (a large stone used as a lintel), or a large stone used to anchor and align the corner of a wall, or the keystone of an arch. [ref]
6. Denarius (20:24): About a day’s wage.
7. Sadducees (20:27): An aristocratic, politically minded group, willing to compromise with secular and pagan leaders. They controlled the high priesthood at this time and held the majority of the seats in the Sanhedrin. They did not believe in the resurrection or an afterlife, and they rejected the oral tradition taught by the Pharisees (Josephus, Antiquities, 13.10.6). [ref]
8. Long robes (20:46): The teachers of the law wore long, white linen robes that were fringed and almost reached to the ground. [ref]
- Approaching Jerusalem (19:28-40)
- Weeping over Jerusalem (19:41-44)
- Jesus at the Temple (19:45-48)
- Jesus’ Authority Questioned (20:1-8)
- Parable of the Vinedressers (20:9-19)
- Paying Taxes to Caesar (20:20-26)
- Resurrection and Marriage (20:27-40)
- The Sonship of Christ (20:41-44)
- Warning to Be Aware of the Scribes (20:45-47)
In what ways was this event miraculous?Hide Answer
The disciples found it just as the Lord had predicted. The owner of the colt agreed to lend him to Jesus. The colt, which no one had ever sat on, was obedient instead of unruly.
What is the significance of riding on a colt? (cf. Zech 9:9).Hide Answer
Riding on the donkey signified the Lord’s humility. The donkey was a lowly animal, which a king would not normally ride on.
What lessons can we learn from “the Lord has need of it”?Hide Answer
1. We should render our possessions and talents to the Lord for His use whenever He calls us to His service. 2. The Lord may accomplish His plans through something or someone who seem insignificant, just as He did through a colt. God, who is almighty, chooses to let His plan “depend” on those who submit to His will. Even though we are weak and lowly, we can become the Lord’s important instruments if we give ourselves to His work.
Why did the Pharisees object to the disciples’ praise?Hide Answer
They did not believe Jesus was the Christ and thought it was inappropriate for the disciples to honor Him with the words of praise to the Messiah.
What did the people of Jerusalem fail to know or see?Hide Answer
They did not know or see “the things that make for your peace” and “the time of your visitation.” Jerusalem, whose name means “peace,” failed to receive the Lord Jesus Christ, the king of peace who came to bring reconciliation between God and His people. The word “visitation” may mean either divine favor (e.g. Gen 50:24; Ex 3:16; Lk 1:30) or judgment (e.g. Ex 32:34). The coming of Jesus Christ was a time of God’s visitation, bringing salvation to believers and judgment to unbelievers. The people did not recognize the coming of the Messiah but rejected Him and crucified Him. Thus, they forfeited the peace from God and brought God’s judgment upon themselves.
What can we learn about the Lord Jesus from this paragraph?Hide Answer
The Lord’s weeping shows His deep love for His people (Lk 13:34). Rather than feeling resentment, He was grieved by His children’s rebellion and wept at the thought of their impending woe.
How had the people turned the temple into “a den of thieves”?Hide Answer
The term “den of thieves” is a quotation from Jer 7:11. The buyers and sellers seemed to be conducting their business for the sake of facilitating worship, but they were evil either in their dealings or in their intention. Such practice profaned the temple of God, which God had established as a place where people of all nations could call on God’s name.
What lessons can we learn from the cleansing of the temple in regards to our lives and worship?
What “things” (v. 2) was Jesus doing that led to this confrontation?Hide Answer
Cleansing the temple (19:45-46). Teaching in the temple and preaching the gospel (19:47; 20:1).
What was the concern of the chief priests and scribes?Hide Answer
Jesus’ popularity posed a direct challenge to the religious establishment and threatened the position and authority of these religious leaders. Seeking to secure their own authority, the chief priests and scribes came and questioned Jesus about the source of His authority.
What does their inability to answer Jesus’ question tell us about them?Hide Answer
Their problem was their stubborn refusal to accept the one God had sent, while trying to cover up their disbelief. They chose to reject God but did not want to lose their position as religious leaders. Such dilemma made them unable to answer Jesus’ counter-question. In effect, Jesus made them answer their own question and at the same time pointed out their callousness.
What do these characters in the parable represent? a. Owner of the vineyard b. Vinedressers c. Servants d. Beloved sonHide Answer
b. The religious leaders whom God had appointed to teach and care for His people.
c. God’s prophets
d. Jesus Christ
How does this parable relate to the question on authority in vv. 1- 8?Hide Answer
Just as the owner leased the vineyard to the vinedressers and expected them to care for it, God entrusted the religious leaders the responsibility of guiding His people to obey Him. But instead of acting as responsible stewards, they took it on themselves the authority of the owner and rejected God’s messengers. Their obsession for authority made them wicked doers who rejected God’s will and persecuted His servants.
Explain the meaning of verse 18.Hide Answer
Jesus is the stone. The world rejected Him, but God has established Him as the chief cornerstone. Whoever wants to be saved must put his trust in Him (Acts 4:11,12), but whoever despises or rejects Him does so to his own destruction (Jn 3:18).
How was the question on paying taxes a trap?Hide Answer
Whether Jesus answered in the affirmative or the negative, He would have offended either the Jews or the Roman government.
Explain the answer Jesus gave.Hide Answer
We need to give to our governing authority what is rightly theirs in the same way we should render to God what rightly belongs to Him. In other words, we still need to fulfill our obligations to earthly authorities while we devote ourselves to the service of God.
How did His answer correct the misconception that lay underneath the question?Hide Answer
Jesus first asked them a question about whose inscription it was on the coin. He used their response to answer their own question. Since the people enjoyed the benefits of the Roman rule, they ought to give to Caesar what was rightfully his. But contrary to what many Jews at the time believed, paying taxes to Caesar did not and should not conflict with their loyalty to God. While expecting the coming of the Messianic kingdom, the people of God still must fulfill their responsibilities to the governing authorities.
What are “the things that are God’s”?Hide Answer
In a narrower sense, we need to supply for the work of God with tithes and offerings, which rightfully belong to God (Mal 3:8 10). In a broader sense, we should offer our entire being and life to God because he made us and has given us life (see Mt 22:37). Just as we have obligations to fulfill as citizens of an earthly nation, we who are citizens of the heavenly kingdom must all the more serve God with absolute dedication.
What can we learn here about the social obligations of Christians and the reasons for these obligations?Hide Answer
Unless the earthly government opposes the teachings of God, it is the duty of all Christians to submit to our governments. We do so not only because we have enjoyed the government’s protection and benefits, but also for the glory of God (Rom 13:1-7; 1Pet 2:13-17).
What point were the Sadducees trying to prove with their question?Hide Answer
They hoped to prove that belief in resurrection is absurd.
How does the quotation in 37 show that God is not the God of the dead but of the living?Hide Answer
God’s self-identification as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob showed that these people were alive to God even though they had died physically. God, who is eternal and who is faithful to His everlasting covenant, would not identify Himself as the God of the dead.
How does this understanding apply to resurrection?Hide Answer
The Sadducees believed that human beings cease to exist in body and spirit upon death, and along this line of reasoning, there is no resurrection. But if Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were all alive when they had already died physically, it means that there is spiritual life after death. This also means that resurrection, as promised by God in the Scripture, would be entirely possible.
Why did Jesus pose the question about Christ’s sonship?Hide Answer
The Pharisees as well as the common people only thought of the Messiah as the Son of David who would be heir to David’s throne. But the Lord Jesus, by citing Psalm 110, showed them that such understanding was insufficient. Christ was not just a descendant of David who would rule over Israel, but he was greater than David. In fact, He was God Himself.
What sins was Jesus warning the disciples against?Hide Answer
1. False piety for the sake of receiving praise from men. 2. Using such false piety to take advantage of the needy.
23. Have you felt the pressure to pretend to be religious because people look up to you? How should you deal with such temptation?