Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on Matthew 20:21-21:17

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Sit at your right hand and left hand - Matthew 20:21

One at your right hand and one at your left in your kingdom. The image of right hand and left is with Jesus sitting on a throne with his closest advisors and confidants right next to him on either side. The idea of reigning with Jesus came from Jesus' comment about the disciples sitting on twelve thrones in 19:28. The problem is that the disciples were seeking it for themselves, when they needed to trust God to appoint them to their places without being envious of others (Matt. 20:1-16).

Not mine to give – Matthew 20:23

Not mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father. Jesus has all authority in heaven and on Earth (Matt. 28:18) but he is the divine Son who remains in joyful submission to his heavenly Father (Matt. 26:39), whose role it is to determine the course and place of each person's life.

The cup of suffering – Matthew 20:23

My cup you will indeed drink. To drink from king's chalice is the image of sharing in his royal identity and benefits. There is also likely a double meaning, referring to the Old Testament image of the outpouring of God's wrath (Ps. 75:8; Isa. 51:17; Jer. 25:15). The disciples were thinking in terms of earthly glory, but the cup Jesus will drink is one of suffering (see Matt. 26:39). See BC 16.

The Healing of Two Blind Men - Matthew 20:29-34

This little story serves as the transition from Jesus' ministry to his last week of life in Jerusalem. Matthew emphasizes again that the Jesus is the Son of David, the rightful king and also that he is full of mercy, compassion, and power. The healing of blindness is also a metaphor for going from not understanding to belief and trust.

Jesus Enters Jerusalem - Matthew 21:1

The whole story of Matthew's Gospel has been pointing to this important, final week of Jesus' life in Jerusalem. Jesus' last week starts with this happy entry into the holy city and will end with his suffering, death, and resurrection, which is the focus of Matthew's story.

Fulfillment – Matthew 21:4

Fulfilled. Fulfillment has been a central theme throughout Matthew, emphasized especially in Matt 1–2. The same idea is highlighted again as Jesus enters Jerusalem. The quotation from Zech. 9:9 is used to emphasize Jesus' kingship and humility.

Branches in the road – Matthew 21:8

Cloaksbranches in the road. The laying of cut tree branches and clothing in the road before an approaching dignitary was a sign of honor and submission to the ruler.

Hosanna – Matthew 21:9

Hosanna. This Greek word probably reflects an Aramaic word that came from the Hebrew in Ps. 118:25 and means, "Help me!" or "Save me, please!" By Jesus' day, this expression had apparently become a greeting, much like someone might say, "Blessings" or "Peace." Here the people are acknowledging Jesus' greatness by praising God for his arrival with a hearty "Hooray! Praise God!"

Cursing of the Temple - Matthew 21:12-17

In this shocking and memorable event Jesus was functioning in his role as a prophet sent by God. This cursing of the Temple was an enacted prophetic parable of judgment on the Jewish leadership who have not been faithful in shepherding God's people.

The mouths of little ones – Matthew 21:16

Out of the mouths of little children. This is part of the larger theme in Matthew that the humble, the less important people in society, and the children understand rightly who Jesus is, while the religious leaders and important people do not accept Jesus (see Matt. 11:25-27). Jesus' words here are an ironic spin on Psalm 8 — children are shown to be stronger than the false leaders by praising Jesus.

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