God’s Saving Word: Hope
Matthew 21:1-22: Jesus enters Jerusalem, riding on a humble donkey, to the cheers of the crowd.
Then he enters the Temple, drives out the moneychangers, and heals people. In so doing, he angers the religious leaders. Today’s reading concludes with Jesus cursing a fig tree to symbolize God’s wrath against those who oppose Jesus’s teachings. (See Jeremiah 8:12-13 in which a withered fig tree symbolizes God’s judgment.)
The Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem
21 As Jesus and his disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to Bethphage at the Mount of Olives. There Jesus sent two of the disciples on ahead 2 with these instructions: “Go to the village there ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied up with her colt beside her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 And if anyone says anything, tell him, ‘The Master needs them’; and then he will let them go at once.”
4 This happened in order to make come true what the prophet had said:
5 “Tell the city of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you!
He is humble and rides on a donkey
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
6 So the disciples went and did what Jesus had told them to do: 7 they brought the donkey and the colt, threw their cloaks over them, and Jesus got on. 8 A large crowd of people spread their cloaks on the road while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds walking in front of Jesus and those walking behind began to shout, “Praise to David’s Son! God bless him who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise be to God!”
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was thrown into an uproar. “Who is he?” the people asked.
11 “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee,” the crowds answered.
Jesus Goes to the Temple
12 Jesus went into the Temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the stools of those who sold pigeons, 13 and said to them, “It is written in the Scriptures that God said, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer.’ But you are making it a hideout for thieves!”
14 The blind and the crippled came to him in the Temple, and he healed them. 15 The chief priests and the teachers of the Law became angry when they saw the wonderful things he was doing and the children shouting in the Temple, “Praise to David’s Son!” 16 So they asked Jesus, “Do you hear what they are saying?”
“Indeed I do,” answered Jesus. “Haven’t you ever read this scripture? ‘You have trained children and babies to offer perfect praise.’”
17 Jesus left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.
Jesus Curses the Fig Tree
18 On his way back to the city early next morning, Jesus was hungry. 19 He saw a fig tree by the side of the road and went to it, but found nothing on it except leaves. So he said to the tree, “You will never again bear fruit!” At once the fig tree dried up.
20 The disciples saw this and were astounded. “How did the fig tree dry up so quickly?” they asked.
21 Jesus answered, “I assure you that if you believe and do not doubt, you will be able to do what I have done to this fig tree. And not only this, but you will even be able to say to this hill, ‘Get up and throw yourself in the sea,’ and it will. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
Today’s Key Verse: Matthew 21:9b
“Praise to David’s Son! God bless him who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise be to God!”
Why do Jesus’s actions pose a threat to the status quo of the temple community? How do his actions demonstrate the coming of God’s Kingdom and restoration of true worship? Has a situation ever occurred in your community of faith that threatened the status quo? What was the outcome?
Loving God, be present in our communities of faith as we honor and worship you. Praise be to you, Lord God! In your holy name, I pray. Amen.
Matthew 21:23-46: Jesus tells two stories about who will enter the Kingdom of God.