Matthew 21

* Christ enters Jerusalem. (1-11) He drives out those who

profaned the temple. (12-17) The barren fig-tree cursed. (18-22)

Jesus' discourse in the temple. (23-27) The parable of the two

sons. (28-32) The parable of the wicked husbandmen. (33-46)

1-11 This coming of Christ was described by the prophet

Zechariah, #Zec 9:9|. When Christ would appear in his glory, it

is in his meekness, not in his majesty, in mercy to work

salvation. As meekness and outward poverty were fully seen in

Zion's King, and marked his triumphal entrance to Jerusalem, how

wrong covetousness, ambition, and the pride of life must be in

Zion's citizens! They brought the ass, but Jesus did not use it

without the owner's consent. The trappings were such as came to

hand. We must not think the clothes on our backs too dear to

part with for the service of Christ. The chief priests and the

elders afterwards joined with the multitude that abused him upon

the cross; but none of them joined the multitude that did him

honour. Those that take Christ for their King, must lay their

all under his feet. Hosanna signifies, Save now, we beseech

thee! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord! But of

how little value is the applause of the people! The changing

multitude join the cry of the day, whether it be Hosanna, or

Crucify him. Multitudes often seem to approve the gospel, but

few become consistent disciples. When Jesus was come into

Jerusalem all the city was moved; some perhaps were moved with

joy, who waited for the Consolation of Israel; others, of the

Pharisees, were moved with envy. So various are the motions in

the minds of men upon the approach of Christ's kingdom.
12-17 Christ found some of the courts of the temple turned into

a market for cattle and things used in the sacrifices, and

partly occupied by the money-changers. Our Lord drove them from

the place, as he had done at his entering upon his ministry,

#Joh 2:13-17|. His works testified of him more than the

hosannas; and his healing in the temple was the fulfilling the

promise, that the glory of the latter house should be greater

than the glory of the former. If Christ came now into many parts

of his visible church, how many secret evils he would discover

and cleanse! And how many things daily practised under the cloak

of religion, would he show to be more suitable to a den of

thieves than to a house of prayer!
18-22 This cursing of the barren fig-tree represents the state

of hypocrites in general, and so teaches us that Christ looks

for the power of religion in those who profess it, and the

savour of it from those that have the show of it. His just

expectations from flourishing professors are often disappointed;

he comes to many, seeking fruit, and finds leaves only. A false

profession commonly withers in this world, and it is the effect

of Christ's curse. The fig-tree that had no fruit, soon lost its

leaves. This represents the state of the nation and people of

the Jews in particular. Our Lord Jesus found among them nothing

but leaves. And after they rejected Christ, blindness and

hardness grew upon them, till they were undone, and their place

and nation rooted up. The Lord was righteous in it. Let us

greatly fear the doom denounced on the barren fig-tree.
23-27 As our Lord now openly appeared as the Messiah, the chief

priests and scribes were much offended, especially because he

exposed and removed the abuses they encouraged. Our Lord asked

what they thought of John's ministry and baptism. Many are more

afraid of the shame of lying than of the sin, and therefore

scruple not to speak what they know to be false, as to their own

thoughts, affections, and intentions, or their remembering and

forgetting. Our Lord refused to answer their inquiry. It is best

to shun needless disputes with wicked opposers.
28-32 Parables which give reproof, speak plainly to the

offenders, and judge them out of their own mouths. The parable

of the two sons sent to work in the vineyard, is to show that

those who knew not John's baptism to be of God, were shamed by

those who knew it, and owned it. The whole human race are like

children whom the Lord has brought up, but they have rebelled

against him, only some are more plausible in their disobedience

than others. And it often happens, that the daring rebel is

brought to repentance and becomes the Lord's servant, while the

formalist grows hardened in pride and enmity.
33-46 This parable plainly sets forth the sin and ruin of the

Jewish nation; and what is spoken to convict them, is spoken to

caution all that enjoy the privileges of the outward church. As

men treat God's people, they would treat Christ himself, if he

were with them. How can we, if faithful to his cause, expect a

favourable reception from a wicked world, or from ungodly

professors of Christianity! And let us ask ourselves, whether we

who have the vineyard and all its advantages, render fruits in

due season, as a people, as a family, or as separate persons.

Our Saviour, in his question, declares that the Lord of the

vineyard will come, and when he comes he will surely destroy the

wicked. The chief priests and the elders were the builders, and

they would not admit his doctrine or laws; they threw him aside

as a despised stone. But he who was rejected by the Jews, was

embraced by the Gentiles. Christ knows who will bring forth

gospel fruits in the use of gospel means. The unbelief of

sinners will be their ruin. But God has many ways of restraining

the remainders of wrath, as he has of making that which breaks

out redound to his praise. May Christ become more and more

precious to our souls, as the firm Foundation and Cornerstone of

his church. May we be willing to follow him, though despised and

hated for his sake.
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