Matthew Chapter 21
Jesus enters Jerusalem

1 When they drew near Jeru salem and arrived at Beth phage, on the mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples,

2 saying, ¡°Go to the village in front of you, and there you will find a donkey tied up with its colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me.

3 If anyone says something to you, say: The Lord needs them but he will send them back immediately.¡±

4 This happened in fulfillment of what the prophet said:

5 Say to the daughter of Zion: See, your king comes to you in all simplicity, riding on a donkey, a beast of burden, with its colt.

6 The disciples went as Jesus had instructed them,

7 and they brought the donkey with its colt. Then they threw their cloaks on its back, and Jesus sat on them.

8 Many people also spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut leafy branches from the trees and spread them on the road.

9 The people who walked ahead of Jesus and those who followed him began to shout: ¡°Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna, glory in the highest!¡±

10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was dis turbed. The people asked, ¡°Who is this man?¡±

11 And the crowd answered, ¡°This is the Pro phet Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee.¡±

Jesus expels the dealers

12 So Jesus went into the Temple and drove out all who were buying and selling in the temple area. He over turned the tables of the money changers, and the stools of those who sold pigeons.

13 And he said to them, ¡°It is written: My house shall be called a house of prayer. But you have turned it into a den of thieves.¡±

14 The blind and the lame also came to him in the Temple and Jesus healed them.

15 The chief priests and the teachers of the Law saw the wonderful things Jesus had just done, and the children shouting in the temple area, ¡°Hosanna to the Son of David!¡±

16 They became indignant and said to Jesus, ¡°Do you hear what they say?¡± Jesus answered them, ¡°Yes. Have you never read this text: From the mouths of children and infants you have got perfect praise?¡±

17 So leaving them he went out of the city and came to Bethany where he spent the night.

Jesus curses the fig tree

18 While returning to the city early in the morning, Jesus felt hungry.

19 He noticed a fig tree by the road, went up to it and found nothing on it but leaves. Then he said to the tree, ¡°Never again bear fruit!¡± And immediately, the fig tree withered.

20 When the disciples saw this, they were astonished and they said, ¡°How did the fig tree suddenly dry up!¡±

21 Jesus told them, ¡°Truly, I say to you: if you had faith and did not doubt, not only could you do what I have done with the fig tree, but you could even say to that mountain: ¡®Go and throw yourself into the sea!¡¯ and it would be done.

22 Whatever you ask for in prayer full of faith, you will receive.¡±

Jesus¡¯ response to the authorities

23 Jesus had entered the Temple and was teaching when the chief priests, the teachers of the Law and the Jewish authorities came to him and asked, ¡°What authority have you to act like this? Who gave you authority to do all this?¡±

24 Jesus answered them, ¡°I will also ask you a question, only one. And if you give me an answer, then I will tell you by what authority I do these things. When John began to baptize, was it a work of God, or was it merely something human?¡±

25 They reasoned out among them selves, ¡°If we reply that it was a work of God, he will say: Why, then, did you not believe him?

26 And if we say: The bap tism of John was merely something human, beware of the people: since all hold John as a prophet.¡±

27 So they answered Jesus, ¡°We do not know.¡±
And Jesus said to them, ¡°Neither will I tell you by what right I do these things.¡±

The parable of the two sons

28 Jesus went on to say, ¡°What do you think of this? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said to him: ¡®Son, today go and work in my vineyard.¡¯

29 And the son answered: ¡®I don¡¯t want to.¡¯ But later he thought better of it and went.

30 Then the father went to the second and gave him the same command. This son replied: ¡®I will go, sir,¡¯ but he did not go.

31 Which of the two did what the father wanted?¡± They answered, ¡°The first.¡± And Jesus said to them, ¡°Truly, I say to you: the publicans and the prostitutes are ahead of you on the way to the kingdom of heaven.

32 For John came to show you the way of goodness but you did not believe him, yet the publicans and the prostitutes did. You were witnesses of this, but you neither repented nor believed him.

The parable of the tenants

33 Listen to another example: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a fence around it, dug a hole for the winepress, built a watchtower, leased the vineyard to tenants and then went to a distant country.

34 When harvest time came, the land owner sent his servants to the tenants to collect his share of the harvest.

35 But the ten ants seized his servants, beat one, killed another and stoned another.

36 Again the owner sent more servants, but they were treated in the same way.

37 Finally, he sent his son, thinking: ¡®They will respect my son.¡¯

38 But when the tenants saw the son, they thought: ¡®This is the one who is to inherit the vineyard. Let us kill him and his inheritance will be ours.¡¯

39 So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

40 Now, what will the owner of the vineyard do with the tenants when he comes?¡±

41 They said to him, ¡°He will bring those evil to an evil end, and lease the vineyard to others who will pay him in due time.¡±

42 And Jesus replied, ¡°Have you never read what the Scriptures say? The stone which the build ers rejected has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord¡¯s doing; and we marvel at it.

43 Therefore I say to you: the kingdom of heaven will be taken from you and given to a people who will yield a harvest.

44 (Whoever falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, and it will ground to dust on whom it falls.)¡±

45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard these parables, they realized that Jesus was referring to them.

46 They would have arrested him, but they were afraid of the crowd who regarded him as a pro phet.


Comments Mathew, Chapter 21

• 21.1 See commentary on Mark 11. Matthew, Mark and Luke place the incident about those selling in the Temple at the time of Jesus¡¯ entrance into Jerusalem. John, on the other hand, situates this event at the beginning of Jesus¡¯ mission. Once more we see how each of the evangelists disposes of events following the plan he has chosen to develop the mystery of Salvation. Their aim is not to draw up a life of Jesus where events would be placed in the exact order in which they occurred.

Besides, there are several details in this triumphant entrance of Jesus that remind us more of the Feast of the Tabernacles (which was celebrated in September), than of the days before the Passover:

¨C The joyous spirit of the people is more ap propriate to that feastday, which was the most popular of all.

¨C The branches and palms, as in the procession of the feastday, on the way to the fountain of Siloe, while singing Psalm 118: ¡°Blessed be he who comes in the name of the Lord!¡± and shouts of ¡°Hosannah!¡± (that is: Save us!).

¨C Mention of the Mountain of Olives, where tents of bran ches and leaves were erect ed for the feast.

See, in this respect, Zec 14 that refers to this feastday (14:16) and foretells the purification of the Temple.

Very possibly, the evangelists placed the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem on the eve of the Passover for the simple reason that they only related one trip of Jesus to Jerusalem.

They arrived at Beth phage. The small village of Bethphage was the entrance to the district of Jerusalem towards the east. According to the Law, the Passover should be celebrated in Jerusalem, but the city was not big enough to accommodate more than a hundred and fifty thousand pilgrims for the festival. So it was necessary to enlarge the juridical limits of Jerusalem, embracing therefore some small villages like Bethphage. During those days, Jesus also used to lodge in Beth any (21:17).

• 12. See commentary on Mark 11:15.

Jesus cleanses the Temple, fulfilling the pro phecy of Zecha riah 14:21. Malachi 3 also foretold this event: The Lord would come to purify his people and his temple. Jesus comes as a prophet to demand respect for God. Also, as God, he inaugurates the new era of religion in spirit and in truth. That is how John also understood this event in John 2:21, where he speaks of the new Temple, Christ.

You have got perfect praise (v. 16). These words of Psalm 8 were addressed to God, but Jesus applies them to himself, as he did with some other Scriptural texts.

• 18. This incident helps us understand the strange behavior of Jesus in looking for figs out of season and then cursing the tree as if it were responsible. Jesus behaved this way for a purpose: to call something to the attention of the apostles, through a teaching method used by the prophets. The fig tree is a figure of the Jewish peo ple, who did not produce the fruits expected by God.

• 23. Jesus is what we would call today a simple layman. He respects the priests of the people of God and their high priest. He shows however that if they want others to be accountable, for their part they must be ready to take a stand on the things of God when the people need this. They had been and were unwilling to give such a response in the case of John the Baptist.

• 28. This parable refers to the refusal of the chief priests to recognize John the Baptist as a messenger of God.

A good number of sin ners were converted by John¡¯s preaching and confessed their sins. Such people were well disposed to receive the message of Jesus that opened for them the kingdom of God and showed them the true face of God the Father. Because of that, they were ahead of the priests, who were indifferent to John¡¯s call, for they felt neither the desire nor the need to change.

Every parish that carries out a mission experiences the same thing: many uncommitted Chris tians will neither work as missionaries, nor receive them, believing they do not need conversion.