The week of Jesus’ suffering and death is known as “Passion Week” in the world of theology. The “Triumphal Entry” marks the beginning of this sad but necessary process. This is what Jesus came to do. Luke writes, “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem” (Lk. 9:51). Jesus was the descendant of David who was destined to rule God’s people. His humble approach to Jerusalem surely surprised those who had watched for the Messiah. He rode into the city on a donkey, the humble beast of burden. Hosanna means “Save!” The cry became an exclamation of praise.
Passover was at hand, and opportunists sold animals for sacrifice in the temple environs; they also offered money exchange. This took place in the so-called court of the Gentiles, not in the immediate temple area. When you go to a college football game, a hot dog and coke might cost you $20. They take advantage of you. Theaters make their money on concessions, not on the show. It is assumed that the merchants charged exorbitant prices for their goods and services. Jesus was filled with righteous indignation. Picture the son of God overturning tables and running people away! Jesus healed the blind and lame, and those spiritually blind and lame were upset when those who were healed praised him. The world may also spurn us when we praise our Lord and Savior.
When Jesus caused the unproductive fig tree to wither, the disciples learned more about his power and his right to judge. The fig tree was a fitting picture of the nation of Israel, which was sadly unprepared to accept the Christ.
The Jewish leaders challenged Jesus’ authority and questioned him. Jesus answered with his own question about John’s baptism. Both John and Jesus received their authority from God.
The parable of the two sons demonstrates God’s willingness to save penitent souls. Those who remain unwilling to change will not be saved. People in greater need were more likely to respond. The smug and self-righteous people of influence were slow to believe and obey.
The parable of the tenants again illustrates the hard-hearted state of that generation of Jewish leaders. They often rejected God’s prophets; they killed John the Baptist. They would also kill Jesus! He was the capstone in God’s plan, and they rejected him. The capstone is the most important stone in a building. It caps an arch and ensures the integrity of the building. The quotation in verse 42 is from Psalm 118:22-23. Note the next verse from the Psalm: “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). The day in this context is the time when God reveals his Son, our Savior! The chapter ends sadly. The leaders realize that Jesus is talking about them, and they wish to silence him. Good readers, are we willing to hear and heed what God says to us? Do we read the Bible to find approval or to find evaluation and guidance from God?
My comments are not an inspired commentary, but rather a few words to draw attention to the background, context, and dynamic situation of Matthew’s gospel. May God bless your reading of His Word. T.C.