Free Bible Commentary
“Matthew 21:12-27”Categories: 50 Days with Jesus
“And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He said to them, ‘It is written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers’ den.”’ And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were shouting in the temple, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David,’ they became indignant and said to Him, ‘Do You hear what these children are saying?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Yes; have you never read, “Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies You have prepared praise for Yourself”?’ And He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there. Now in the morning, when He was returning to the city, He became hungry. Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, ‘No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.’ And at once the fig tree withered. Seeing this, the disciples were amazed and asked, ‘How did the fig tree wither all at once?’ And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, “Be taken up and cast into the sea,” it will happen. And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.’ When He entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to Him while He was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?’ Jesus said to them, ‘I will also ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John was from what source, from heaven or from men?’ And they began reasoning among themselves, saying, ‘If we say, “From heaven,” He will say to us, “Then why did you not believe him?” But if we say, “From men,” we fear the people; for they all regard John as a prophet.’ And answering Jesus, they said, “We do not know.’ He also said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.’”
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The word that comes to my mind when I read the account of these events is “authority”. Jesus did not cower into the grand finale of His physical life on earth. He knew He was coming to Jerusalem to be offered as our Sacrificial Lamb, but the actions of His final week were performed with all the power of the Chosen One of God.
Jesus rode into Jerusalem to a chorus of praise and honor. As the people lay down their garments before Him and shouted “Hosanna in the highest,” Jesus received their worship as the completely appropriate outpourings of their hearts toward Him (verses 9-11). When Jesus entered the temple, His first course of action was to overturn the money changers tables and run off the people who were making a mockery of His Father’s house of worship and prayer (verses 12-13). And He did so without being challenged. Jesus healed the lame and the blind (verse 14), but the scribes and chief priests were unimpressed by this amazing display of divine power. They instead resorted to criticizing the children who were rightly singing His praises (verse 15). Jesus was in complete control of these affairs and He operated with the absolute authority of heaven.
When Jesus arrived again at the temple early the next morning, the priests and elders finally mustered up enough courage to ask Him “by what authority” He was doing and saying these things (verse 23). He really shut them down by answering their question with another question (verses 24-25). If they could rightly deduce the answer to Jesus’ question, they would really be answering their own question. Was John’s baptism “from heaven or from men?” The answer to this question directly applied to their question because John openly endorsed Jesus. If John’s authority was God-given, then so was the authority of Jesus. But if it was simply manmade authority then both John and Jesus had no legal footing for their actions whatsoever. When the men of the council answered, “We do not know” (verse 27), they proved themselves unfit for their office and unworthy of an answer.
When Jesus cursed the barren fig tree (verses 18-22) He was really pronouncing judgment upon the spiritually desolate hearts of the people of Israel. When His disciples marveled at how immediately and completely the tree had withered, He told them that with the right kind of faith, they could even move mountains. They would need that kind of faith when dealing with the wicked, faithless people that were about to put their Master to death.
Please read Matthew 26:17-29 for tomorrow – Jesus eats the Passover.
Have a great day!