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Matthew chapter 21




SCRIPTURE: Matthew 21
Author:  Jeremy Witt
Today’s chapter could easily be broken down into more than one day’s devotion.  We read of Jesus fulfilling Old Testament prophecy of the Messiah riding into Jerusalem on a colt.  We read of Jesus showing His humanity as He clears the temple.  His righteous anger was on full display.  We read of Jesus and a fig tree that wouldn’t produce fruit, so Jesus spoke to it, and it withered.  We read yet another account of the religious elite challenging Jesus and His authority  He concludes the chapter with two parables.  Let’s jump in and see what stands out to us today.

Let’s start with the entry into Jerusalem.  This account is found in the other 3 Gospels.  Skeptics and scoffers use this account to discredit the Bible or to say that the Bible contradicts itself.  The other 3 Gospel accounts do not mention the donkey at all.  Why is that?  In Matthew’s account, Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a colt, but it also mentions a donkey.  A colt is a young donkey that is typically not been ridden or broken.  This is a fulfillment of Isaiah 62:11 and Zechariah 9:9. 

The reply to the omission is rather simple.  What did Jesus ride on?  It was a colt that had not been broke yet.  The most important detail is what was ridden, not what accompanied the colt.  By having the mother with the colt, it would make the ride easier on the colt as well as Jesus.  It was an important detail to fulfill the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9, so Matthew included it.  It was crucial for Matthew’s purpose and audience.  Remember that Matthew wrote to show how Jesus was the Messiah and how He fulfilled the Law.

Verses 8-9 are important as well.  This is one of the only places where Jesus’ glory is recognized on earth during His ministry.  Jesus boldly rode into Jerusalem as the King of Peace and the crowds praised Him.  Within this account, we must also understand the many who praised Jesus here will be some of the very ones who will be led to yell, “crucify Him” due to political pressure in a few days.  When it was easy, they praised Him.  When things got difficult, the crowd turned on Him.  We must be careful not to fall prey to this today and under our current political climate.

Verses 12-17 refer to the 2nd time that Jesus cleared the Temple.  This shows us the humanity of Jesus, His expression of anger (holy and righteous) against the greed of the merchants, and the misuse of the Temple.  What was the big deal?  These merchants had taken up in the court of the Gentiles.  This area was reserved for non-Jews to worship the LORD.  But due to their greed (charging more than required on animals for sacrifice) and desire for proximity, they were allowed by the priests to be within the walls of the Temple.  Money-changers were in the Temple to change the currency from places around the world for the Temple coin used in worship only in the Temple.  What these money-changers were doing was changing the exchange rate and taking advantage of the Gentiles there for worship.  John tells us the first account of Jesus clearing the Temple in John 2:13-17. 

In verses, 18-22 Jesus curses the fig tree.  Why did He do this?  Was it because He was upset that it did not give the food that we sought (hunger) or was it because of something else?  The fig tree had leaves but did not have any fruit.  A good fig tree would bear fruit three times a year.  This tree was symbolic of Israel (Isaiah 63:7; 64:12; 65:3-7)  The Lord was about to enter Jerusalem for the final rejection of Israel.  Even after the greatest miracle in history (raising from the dead) the nation, the city, and the people would not believe in Him as the Messiah.  The fig tree was symbolic of what was about to happen.

In verses 23-27, we see the religious rulers come to Jesus with a question challenging by where His authority to do miracles came from.  They were jealous of His popularity, jealous of His power, and upset that He did not show them respect or play by their rules.  Jesus responded to them in verse 24 by asking them a question, which they could not answer without acknowledging their true motives.  So their response was, “we don’t know” 

Jesus then told a parable of two sons, one who was obedient and one who was not.  Jesus used this to show the hypocrisy of the religious elite and how those who should willingly obey refused as the son who eagerly responded but never acted on the father’s wishes.  Which one are you more like?

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Matthew 19:1-10




SCRIPTURE: Matthew 19:1-10
Author:  Jeremy Witt
A stay-cation is an oxymoron in case you didn’t know that already.  I was doing this last week and I guess Josh did that too since he only wrote one devotion last week.  That slacker!!!!  I think that he didn’t want to writ eon today’s chapter.  But I am back so we will jump back into Matthew today.
Once again, we find the religious coming to trap Jesus in a very tricky, and very sticky issue in that day as well as today.  That issue is divorce.  What we need to understand is that God never intended for divorce.  When God created marriage, sin had not yet entered the world.  The institution of marriage was made before sin and God-created or ordained.  He meant for man to leave his parents and to be bound/yoked/connected as one.  Matthew 19:5 is quoting from Genesis 2:24.  Marriage was meant for a man and woman from the very beginning. 
***Please note that I am not speaking to any person’s circumstances.  I am no expert on the matter.  I am not trying to be a scholar on this issue of divorce either and to speak to every circumstance.  I am not trying to condemn those who have been divorced nor am I trying to excuse divorce.  If humanly possible with professional counseling, many difficult conversations, and even in what may seem impossible, many marriages have been saved with the LORD’s help.  Just because it is hard does not mean that it is not impossible.  Just because you do not “feel in love” means that you need a divorce.  I will also acknowledge that for a difficult relationship to be healed, it takes both parties willing to submit to the LORD, adhere to Biblical guidance, forgiveness is given to the other spouse, and both being honest.  I am well aware that this is not the case in many marriages that have led to divorce.  Nor am I condemning you if divorce is part of your present or your past.
Verse 5 is quoted in the Old Testament and repeated in the New Testament.  This impacts some other hot-button topics today, but when something is said/commanded/started in the Old Testament and then repeated/commanded by Jesus, it is applicable to us today.  Therefore God’s Word has spoken on marriage and other issues of today.  God never intended for divorce.  Man created it.  Notice verse 7.  Moses gave a reason in Deuteronomy24:1-4.  Jesus said in Matthew 19:8 why Moses permitted it.  It was due to sin.  Notice that Jesus states that “from the beginning, it has not been that way” (NASB) or in the NLT, “not what God originally intended.” 
This leads us to something called “perfect will” which is only attributed to God since He is the only Perfect anything in the universe.  There are two types of will with God.  Perfect will and permissive will.  Because God gives us free will, He allows us to choose His way (perfect) and other ways (permissive).  This is where divorce falls into the picture.  God’s design is for the family to remain together.  However, due to the sin of man and the effects of sin that impact everything, there are instances for divorce found in Scripture which is where we see permissive will.  Paul speaks on divorce in the New Testament as well. 
Ultimately for today, what we need to see is that man makes excuses for sins and then tries to cover them up with labels, names, blame, etc.  Adam and Eve did that from the start (of sin) as well, so we gained this genetically or the effect of sin.  God’s design for marriage and the family is to remain together.  However, sin impacts marriage and family.  It can be catastrophic.  Divorce is painful for everyone involved, but especially when children are involved.  When abuse is involved, unfaithfulness is involved, and the safety of a spouse and/or children, separation and/or divorce is the best option.  In many circumstances, divorce is the lesser of two evils.  But let me say yet again, that divorce is NOT God’s ideal.  It is not in His perfect will.  However, just because a person is divorced, it does not mean that they are doomed.  Divorce is NOT the unpardonable sin.  Divorce does not take away your salvation. 
Notice verse 10 and the Pharisee’s response.  What we have not discussed is the cultural view of marriage that was happening.  Women were treated like property.  If the man was not happy, he could divorce and go marry another while leaving the woman “out in the cold.”  Men could divorce their wives for having a bad hair day or not acting in the manner that man thought she would.  In fact, the Pharisees had given several “rules” and allowances for divorce that Scripture never mentions.  Man has a way of doing this in a variety of ways.
Jesus’ response was one that protected women by not agreeing with how things were.  By calling men to remain married to their wives rather than moving on to the “greener grass on the other side of the fence,” Jesus was calling for men to do what God originally intended.  This led to the Pharisee’s response by saying that it would be better not to marry.
We will finish the rest of the chapter tomorrow. 

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