As the Lord Jesus went into Jerusalem, he also entered the final week of His ministry. He came to the city on a donkey in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy about the King of peace, and the multitudes welcomed Him with shouts of praise. But this short-lived adoration would soon be overshadowed by an ever-increasing animosity.
Did You Know...?
- Bethphage (21:1):…lay on the southeast slope of the Mount of Olives. [ref] The name means “house of figs.” It is not mentioned in the OT, and in the NT only in connection with the Triumphal Entry. [ref]
- Mount of Olives (21:1): Olivet, or the Mount of Olives, is a small range of four summits, the highest being 2,723 feet, which overlooks Jerusalem and the Temple Mount from the east across the Kidron Valley and the pool of Siloam. Jesus knew the Mount as a thickly wooded locality, rich in the olives which occasioned its name. [ref]
- Hosanna (21:9): …“Save (us), we pray,” taken from Psalm 118:25. It came to be a note of praise as well as petition. [ref] The Hebrew expression meant: “Save us now!” It came to function like the modern-day exclamations “God save the king!” or “Hail to the chief!” [ref]
- Bethany (21:17): A village on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives, about two miles from Jerusalem and the final station on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem. [ref]
- “Found nothing on it but leaves” (21:19): Fig leaves appear about the same time as the fruit or a little later…Thus the leaves normally point to every prospect of fruit, even if not fully ripe. Sometimes, however, the green figs fall off and leave nothing but leaves. [ref]
- Entry into Jerusalem (21:1-11)
- Jesus at the Temple (21:12-17)
- Causing the Fig Tree to Wither (21:18-22)
List the many different reactions of the various groups of people.Hide Answer
The disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them (6). The multitude followed and cried out with shouts of praise (8,9). All the city was moved, saying “Who is this”? (10). The blind and the lame came to Him (14). The children praised Him (15). The chief priests and scribes were indignant (15). The disciples marveled (20).
Record the things that show the people’s great fervor and excitement over the coming of the Lord Jesus.Hide Answer
The great multitude spread their clothes on the road and cut down branches and spread them on the road. They went before and followed Jesus, crying out songs of praise and prayer. The question by the entire city, “Who is this?” and the response from the multitude, “This is Jesus…” was like the magnificent voice of a choir singing in unison. The whole city of Jerusalem was stirred.
How was this event a great miracle?Hide Answer
It was the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy. The owner of the donkey and the colt agreed to lend them to Jesus. The colt, which no one has sat on (Mk 11:2), was obedient instead of unruly. In unison, the great crowd welcomed and praised the King with great fervor.
How is the image of riding on a donkey different from what we might expect of a king?Hide Answer
The donkey is a lowly animal, which a king wouldn’t normally ride on.
What does this tell us about the King we serve?Hide Answer
He is gentle and lowly in heart (11:29). He never displayed His power and authority just to receive people’s applause. His gentleness and humility made Him accessible by all people, including the sick, the children, and the sinners. Likewise, He is not a God who is far removed from us, but is someone we can approach with confidence.
If one day God says to you about something you own, “the Lord has need of them,” would you give him what he asks for “immediately” (3)? What would it take on your part to do so?
How many different groups of people does Matthew record in this paragraph?Hide Answer
What are the two sets of contrasts that we can observe and what can we learn from these contrasts?Hide Answer
The sellers and buyers versus the blind and the lame. The chief priests and scribes versus the children. Although everyone was at the temple, not everyone pleased God. Although everyone “worshiped God,” not everyone did so with the right attitude and intention.
How have the buyers and sellers turned the house of prayer into a den of thieves?Hide Answer
The term “den of thieves” is a quotation from Jer 7:11. The people worshiped God on the surface, but their deeds were evil. The buyers and sellers seemed to be engaged in 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 does this teach us about true worship that pleases God?Hide Answer
True worship involves upright conduct and a sincere heart.
What did the words of Jesus in 16 ironically point out?Hide Answer
“Have you never read?” Jesus exposed the ignorance of the chief priests and scribes in the Scriptures and in God’s will. They were supposed to be the most knowledgeable and closest to God, but they were more ignorant than the children, who acknowledged Jesus as the Son of David. The lesson here is that God reveals His will to the simple and sincere but hides it from those who do not believe and are wise in their own eyes (11:25,26).
What was the withering of the fig tree symbolic of, and what was the warning behind this symbolic action? Relate your answer to the context of the passage.Hide Answer
Just as the fig tree showed signs of life but was actually barren, many worshippers of God (such as the buyers and sellers and the chief priests and scribes) were actually unbelieving and far from God. The prophet Jeremiah compared God’s people to the unfruitful fig tree (Jer 8:13; 24:1- 8). So the Lord’s cursing of the fig tree could be symbolic of God’s judgment on the unbelieving race (cf. Mt 21:43).
In what ways could a worshiper of God become like fig trees with only leaves but no figs?Hide Answer
Having the appearance of godliness but indulging in sin (2Tim 3:1-5). Hypocritically carrying out some religious duties but having no sincere desire to obey God’s will (Mt 15:3-9). Using religion for self interest (1Tim 6:3-5). Preaching false doctrines in the name of Christ (2Cor 11:13,14; 2Jn 7).
Does God grant every request we make if we believe and not doubt?Hide Answer
The phrase “whatever you ask in prayer” must be qualified if we were to look at other passages in the Bible. If our request is for the purpose of indulgence, we will not receive what we ask for (Jas 4:3-4). The apostle Paul also did not receive what he prayed for, because God had a better purpose in his life (2Cor 12:7-9).
What does faith involve?Hide Answer
Faith involves believing without doubt that God exists and that He rewards those who seek Him (21; Heb 11:6). Faith means believing God’s promise even before its fulfillment (Heb 11:1). Faith also involves trusting God’s sovereign choice and that He will always do the best at the right time (Mt 26:39). So in whatever we ask, we need to first examine our motive and ask that God’s will be done. Then we will receive what we ask for (God’s will be done), even if God’s way turned out to be different from our expectations (e.g. Paul’s prayer concerning the thorn in his flesh; 2Cor 12:7-10).