Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on Matthew 20:29-21:23

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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.

The fig tree - Matthew 21:19

The fig tree withered. This story shows Jesus' control over nature. But more importantly, this story is a picture of prophetic judgment and condemnation of the false leaders in Jerusalem.

Whatever you ask – Matthew 21:22

Whatever you ask for in prayer, believing, you will receive. Here and in other places in Matthew, Jesus commended those who trust God in prayer (Matt. 8:10; 9:2,22,29; 15:28; 17:20). While Jesus was encouraging his disciples to trust their heavenly Father to provide for their needs (Matt. 6:19-34; 7:7-11), all faithful prayers exist in submission to a larger reality of submission to God's sovereign plan (see Matt. 26:39). The main point of Jesus' saying here is the replacement of the Temple and its leaders with Jesus' disciples who trust in him by faith.

By what authority - Matthew 21:23

By what authority. Jesus' prophetic actions and words were upsetting to the Jewish leadership and so they challenged him. Matthew has already shown by what authority Jesus is at work — God the Father himself (Matt. 3:17; 9:6; 17:5)! Matthew's Gospel concludes by emphasizing Jesus' universal authority (Matt. 28:18).

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