Wednesday Night Bible Survey

February 15, 1995

Matthew 21:18 - 22:46

Matthew 21


We're now entering the final week of Jesus' earthly life.

Last week we saw Jesus enter Jerusalem, riding on a donkey.

The first thing He did was to go to His Father's House, and do a little house cleaning.

He threw all the people exchanging money and selling sacrificial animals out of the temple.

When He had finished house cleaning, he went to the nearby city of Bethany to spend the night at the house of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus (John 12:1-3).

:18-22  Cursing the Fig Tree

:19  he found nothing thereon

This was springtime.

The early figs start in spring before the leaves and develop after the leaves. The main fig crop was early autumn (#Mr 11:14|). There should have been figs on the tree with the crop of leaves.

:19  Let no fruit grow on thee

I've found at times, that as I look at this passage, I've thought to myself, "Gee, Jesus is sure grouchy in the morning before He's had His breakfast!"


God wants to see fruit

John  15:1-8. I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2  Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every [branch] that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3  Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4  Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5  I am the vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6  If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast [them] into the fire, and they are burned. 7  If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8  Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

What's fruit?

Fruit is the natural result of letting God work in your life.

When Jesus comes to live in your heart, He'll do some house cleaning, just like He did in the temple.

Changes will happen, you'll be different.

It might be:

the fruit of the Spirit (Gal.5:22-23)

people coming to the Lord

just a whole different lifestyle, a holy lifestyle

The point?

People who claim to know God, but don't have any evidence in their lives that they do, are fooling themselves.

:21  if ye shall say unto this mountain

Keep in mind where they are.

They are just outside Jerusalem.

The mountain has to be the one that Jerusalem is sitting upon.


:22  ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive

Remember the passage in John 15:1-8?

I think it offers a good understanding and balance to knowing what this is all about.


1.  Correct Prayer requires faith & God's Word in you

We need to keep the entire picture in view.

The "faith" teachers want us to believe that faith is some kind of magical force that can twist God's arm into making Him give you whatever you ask for.

But the Bible teaches that a healthy "faith" comes from the Word of God..

Romans 10:17-AV So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

As we are staying close to Jesus and staying immersed in His Word (the Bible!):

Then our understanding of God grows and our ability to trust God (faith) grows too.

Our understanding of God's ways also grows, and we begin to learn better and better what kinds of things God wants us to be asking for.

:23-27  By what authority?

:23  when he was come into the temple

Jesus now goes back into the temple to teach the people.

:24  By what authority ...?

After all, this Jesus was the guy who yesterday chased out all the money changers and animal vendors.

Don't the chief priests and elders have a right to know who is rearranging the furniture?

:27  We cannot tell

Jesus got them on this one!

:28-32  The obedient son

:31  Whether of them twain did the will of his father?

That's the whole issue.

It's not what you say that counts, but what you actually do.

:33-46  The Vineyard tenants

:33  a certain householder

Jesus is going to tell a parable now, aimed at the chief priests and elders, about their disobedience to God.  See if you can recognize each of the ingredients in the parable.

The householder is God the Father.

:33  the husbandmen

The tenant farmers, running the vineyard of the Father.

Who is it?  The chief priests and elders.

:34  the time of the fruit drew near

Again, notice the emphasis that Jesus is going to make, showing how God is interested in fruit!

:34-37  his servants ... his son

Who are the servants?  The prophets.

Who is the son?  Jesus!

:41  they say unto him ...

Who is it that responds to Jesus?

The chief priests and elders.  They're the ones Jesus is addressing (vs.23,31)

:42  The stone which the builders rejected

Jesus is going to quote Psalm 118:

Psalms 118:19-26. Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, [and] I will praise the LORD: 20  This gate of the LORD, into which the righteous shall enter. 21  I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation. 22  The stone [which] the builders refused is become the head [stone] of the corner. 23  This is the LORD'S doing; it [is] marvellous in our eyes. 24  This [is] the day [which] the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. 25  Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. 26  Blessed [be] he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD.

Jesus is making the point that His parable about the Son being killed is based on the principle found here in Scripture.

There was a story told by the Jews (and repeated by Pastor Chuck) about the building of the temple by Solomon.

With Solomon's temple, the stone was all cut to specifications at the quarry.  There was to be no sound of cutting tools on the temple sight.

After a stone was cut to specifications, it would be sent to the temple, where it would be placed into the building.

One particular stone arrived, and the builders couldn't figure out where it went, so they threw it away, down the hill.

Much later, the builders were wondering when the quarry was going to sent the most important stone, the corner stone.  All the other stones were in place except for it.

The quarry answered that they had already sent it a long time ago.

That's when they realized that the stone they had throne away and rejected was in fact the most important of them all, the corner stone.

Jesus is identifying Himself as the corner stone, and He too will be rejected and thrown away.

:43  given to a nation bringing forth the fruits

Again, we see God's interest in bearing fruit.

God would take away the place of the Jews and give it to believing Gentiles (at least for a while!)

Romans 11 - talks about how the branches of the Jews were broken off so that we, the Gentiles, might be grafted into the Lord.

:44  fall on this stone ...

Two choices are given:  Either fall on the stone, or the stone will fall on you.

If you fall on the stone, you will be broken.

If you come to Jesus, you must humble yourself and be broken.

Psalms 51:17-AV The sacrifices of God [are] a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

If the stone falls on you, you're dust (a paraphrase!)

Daniel 2:44-AV And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, [but] it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

The choice is ours.

Another way of putting it:

You can bend the knee now, or you can bend it later.

You can bend it now in worship and humility before the King of Kings and let Him take control of your life.

You can wait until you will be forced to bend it, as the Scripture says,

Philippians 2:10-11 AV That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth;  11 And [that] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

:45  they perceived

Message received.

Matthew 22

:1-14  Parable of the Wedding Feast

:2  a certain king ... his son

God the Father, Jesus

:2  a marriage

The Marriage Supper of the Lamb - Rev.19

The Bride will meet the Groom, and a party happens!

:3  his servants

The prophets

:3  them that were bidden to the wedding

The Jews

:6  the remnant took his servants ... and slew them

Those that didn't just ignore the message killed the servants, the prophets.

:7  burned up their city

I think this is probably a very clear reference to the destruction of Jerusalem, in A.D. 70, yet future to Jesus.

:9  into the highways

Go to the Gentiles

:11  a wedding garment

To get into the feast, you have to dress properly.

Revelation 19:8-AV And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

I think this is why brides wear white.

But we have to be careful, because the righteousness can't be our own, because our righteousness is described as:

Isaiah 64:6-AV But we are all as an unclean [thing], and all our righteousnesses [are] as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

The righteousness is what Jesus has given us as He's exchanged our sins for His righteousness.

Hebrews 10:14-AV For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.


Get dressed for the wedding!

Article in Newsweek:  America is dressing down.  IBM loosening it's standards.

People not even getting dressed up for church anymore!  Amazing!

It's not as important what you where to church, as it is what you where to the wedding!

:14  many called ... few chosen

It's not just being called that counts.

It depends on how you respond.

And whether you respond correctly that determines whether you are chosen to be at the wedding. (at least in this parable)

:15-22  Tribute to Caesar?

:16  the Herodians

The Herodians were a Jewish political party that favoured the Herodian and Roman rule.

These would actually have been the political enemies of the Pharisees.

:16  thou regardest not the person of men

Jesus wasn't known as a respecter of persons.

He didn't change His actions or words to fit the people He was with.

Quite a complement, coming from His enemies!

:17  give tribute unto Caesar, or not?

Here's the catch:

If Jesus answers "YES", then the people aren't going to like it, because they hate paying taxes to Caesar.

If Jesus answers, "NO", then He can be liable for being arrested for treason by the Romans.

In a way, it's kind of like the line that Jesus gave them back in 21:25, about John's baptism.

They really think they have Jesus caught this time.

:20  Whose is this image ...

Whose picture is on the coin?

:21  Render therefore unto Caesar ...

The pitch, He swings, IT'S A GRAND SLAM!

Never try to throw a change up on Jesus!


Pay your taxes

Give God His due too

:22  they marvelled

qaumazo {thou-mad'-zo}

1) to wonder, wonder at, marvel 2) to be wondered at, to be had in admiration

Not just stumped and mad, but they kind of have a grasp of what a great person Jesus is.

:23-33  Levirite Resurrection Stumper

:23  the Sadducees

The Jews are now going to send in a new pitcher.

Religiously, these were the opposite guys from the Pharisees.

These were the religious liberals.

They didn't believe in the miraculous, in angels, or in the resurrection.

"That's why they were sad-you-see"

It's now their turn to pitch to Jesus.

And here's the pitch ...

:23  no resurrection

They're going to pitch to Jesus something that they've probably used for years to stump those old Pharisees.  "We'll show those Bible believing idiots how stupid their beliefs are!"

:24  Moses said ...

They are going to refer to what is called the Levirite Law.

Deuteronomy 25:5-6 AV If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her.  6 And it shall be, [that] the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother [which is] dead, that his name be not put out of Israel.

So, if your brother was married, but before he had any children he died, then it was your duty to take the widow as your wife, and the firstborn would inherit your brother's name, as if he was your brother's son.

:28  in the resurrection

When they all come back to life again ...

:28  whose wife shall she be ... ?

This is really a fine question for the Sadducees to ask, but it's not the one I'd be asking.

I'd be asking, "Where did this woman learn to cook?", or, "What did she put in those matzo balls?"

:29  Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

We could probably use these same two lines on just about any kind of heresy.

In converse, the best way to stay correct in your thinking is:

1.  Know the Scriptures

Be familiar even with the details and subtleties of Scripture.

As you're going to see, Jesus' arguement is based on a very slight subtlety.

But that doesn't make it any less true.

2.  Know the power of God.

Don't set any limits to what God can do.

The Sadducees didn't think God could pull off a resurrection.

:30  in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage

Their error lay in their making what is the measure of what may be, and thus limiting the power of God.

In other words, they were forming their understand of this "resurrection" by basing it on what they already know in this life.

Cf. Locke's story of the king of Siam, who, listening to a Dutch ambassador's account of his country, and being told that the water there, would in cold weather be so hard that men walked on it and it would bear an elephant, replied, "Hitherto I have believed the strange things you told me, because I looked upon you as a sober fair man; but now I am sure you lie."

For this point of His refutation, Jesus doesn't depend on Scripture, but on His own authority as the Son of God, the one who has already been in heaven.

There will be no marriage in heaven.  Why?

Because we'll be already be married.  To Jesus.

For now, our marriages are kind of like a picture of the future (Eph.5), it shows what it's like between Jesus and His bride, which is us!

:30  but are as the angels

So, apparently the angels do not marry.

It's not that we will be like angels in all respects, but Jesus is saying that in this aspect we will be like the angels.

:32  I am the God of Abraham ...

This is how God introduced Himself to Moses at the burning bush:

Exodus 3:6-AV Moreover he said, I [am] the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.

Here's how we see how important even the little things are in Scripture.

Jesus uses a present tense, not a past tense ("I am", not "I was")

Jesus is making the point that when God spoke to Moses from the burning bush, He didn't introduce Himself as, "I was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob". 

He doesn't say, "I am the God who was with Abraham ..." 

But instead He says, "I AM, the God of Abraham..."

:33  they were astonished

The Saddducees often claimed that the resurrection could not be proven from Law, from Moses, from the first five books of the Bible.

And here Jesus uses Moses' own writing to show them wrong.

:34-40  The Greatest Commandment

:35  a lawyer

Don't think of Robert Shapiro

This is a person who is an expert in the Law of Moses.

:36  which is the great commandment in the law?

I imagine that they are expecting Jesus to pick the best of the ten commandments (Exodus 20)

1.  No other gods before Him. (vs.3)

2.  No graven images (vs.4)

3.  Don't take God's name in vain (vs.7)

4.  Keep the sabbath (vs.8)

5.  Honor your parents (vs.12)

6.  Don't commit murder (vs.13)

7.  Don't commit adultery (vs.14)

8.  Don't steal (vs.15)

9.  Don't lie (vs.16)

10.  Don't covet (vs.17)

Which one would you pick?

:37  Thou shalt love the Lord

Instead, Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy:

Deuteronomy 6:5-AV And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

:39  Love thy neighbor

Jesus now quotes from Leviticus:

Leviticus 19:18-AV Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I [am] the LORD.

:40  On these two commandments

If you could keep these two things, loving God and your neighbor, then you would automatically obey all the other laws.

Also, it's interesting to note that when God gave Moses the ten commandments, they were actually in two groups, on two tablets.

The first group was about loving God, commandments 1-4

The second group was about loving your neighbor, commandments 5-10

Also, it's important to realize that you can't do the second commandment of loving your neighbor without doing the first one.

Get the vertical in line, and the horizontal will automatically happen.

If you really love God, then you will love others too.

And if you're not doing the second, you can't be really doing the first.

If you're not loving others, then you must not be really loving God.

1John 4:7-8 AV Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.  8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

1John 4:20-21 AV If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?  21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

:41-46  David's Son

:42  the son of David

It was well understood that the Messiah, the deliverer of Israel would come from the descendants of the kingly line of David.

Of whom Jesus could trace His own lineage.

:44  The Lord said unto my Lord

Jesus is going to use a passage that was well known among the Jews to refer to the Messiah.

The fact that this was a passage about the Messiah wasn't even an issue with the Pharisees.

Jesus now quotes from: (Look it up!)

Psalms 110:1-AV <<A Psalm of David.>> The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

It's important to understand that the two words for "lord" are different from each other in the Hebrew.

The first word for LORD, in all caps, is the name of God, Yahweh.

The second word for Lord, with lower case letters, is the Hebrew word adon, meaning lord or master.

What David is saying in this verse is, "Yahweh said unto my Master, Sit thou at my right hand ..."

:45  If David then ...

What Jesus is going to pose to the Pharisees is the well known fact that children should honor their parents, and if anyone is going to call anyone "lord", it is the son calling the father "lord".

So, if David is speaking, and calls his son (or, descendant)  "master", then how can this be his son?


Because though Jesus descended from David and had a human nature, He was also the Son of God, born of the seed of the Holy Spirit, was indeed fully God and fully man, and David must refer to Him as "Lord".

:46  any more questions

He finally put to rest all the hard questions.

From here on out, the Pharisees and Sadducees will simply try to get Jesus arrested.