Matthew 21: You’ve got a job to do

October 21st, 2006

Everyone gets to be like a tenant farmer in the vineyard. Some people choose to eat all the grapes themselves, and they ignore or assault the messengers which the landowner sends to collect the rent. That might work for a while as a tactic, but you really have to ask how dumb the wayward tenant farmers are. It’s obvious that they’re not going to get away with it forever, but they carry on quite happily thinking that they’re winning the game. It’s like that in real life. You can choose to produce the fruit, or you can choose to help yourself and hope that God forgets all about it.

Matthew’s Account of the Good News — Chapter 21

21:1 On the way to Jerusalem they came to Bethphage at the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two disciples, 21:2 saying, “Go to the next village and immediately you will find a donkey tied together with a colt. Untie them and bring them to me. 21:3 If anyone says anything to you say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and immediately he will send them.” 21:4 This happened to fulfil the prophet’s prediction: 21:5 “Announce to the daughter of Zion, your King comes to you, humble, and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

21:6 The disciples went to do just as Jesus commanded them 21:7 and brought the donkey and the colt. They laid their clothes on them and he sat on them. 21:8 A huge crowd spread their clothes on the road. Others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 21:9 The crowds who went before him and who followed kept shouting, “Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

21:10 The whole city was excited when he arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Who is this?” 21:11 The crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee.”

21:12 Jesus went into the temple of God and ordered the people who were selling and buying in the temple to leave. He tipped over the money changers’ tables and the seats of the dove sellers. 21:13 He said, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of thieves!”

21:14 Blind and lame people came to him in the temple and he healed them. 21:15 But when the senior priests and religious lawyers saw the amazing things that he did and heard the children shouting out in the temple, “Hosanna to the son of David!” they were upset 21:16 and said to him, “Do you hear what they are saying?” Jesus responded, “Yes. Haven’t you read, ‘Out of the mouths of babies and toddlers you have created praise?'”

21:17 Leaving them he went out of the city to Bethany, and slept there. 21:18 In the morning he was heading back to the city, feeling hungry. 21:19 He went up to a fig tree which he saw by the side of the road, but found nothing on it except leaves. He said to it, “May you never bear fruit!” Immediately the fig tree shrivelled up. 21:20 The disciples were amazed to see this: “How did the fig tree shrivel up?”

21:21 Jesus answered, “I can guarantee that if you have faith and don’t doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but if you ordered this mountain, ‘Rise up and fall into the sea,’ it would happen. 21:22 You will receive whatever you ask in prayer, if you believe.”

21:23 The senior priests and elders of the people came up to him when he arrived at the temple and started teaching. They asked, “By what authority do you do these things? Who gave you this authority?”

21:24 Jesus answered, “Let me ask you a question first. If you answer, I will tell you by what authority I do these things. 21:25 Where did the baptism of John come from? From heaven or from humans?” They debated amongst themselves, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask us, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ 21:26 But if we say, ‘From men,’ we’re afraid of the crowd, because everyone thinks of John as a prophet.” 21:27 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” He said to them, “Then I won’t tell you by what authority I do these things. 21:28 What do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first, and said, ‘Son, go and work today in my vineyard.’ 21:29 He answered, ‘I won’t,’ but afterwards changed his mind and went. 21:30 He came to the second and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I’ll go,’ but he didn’t go. 21:31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said to him, “The first.” Jesus said, “I can guarantee that tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God before you. 21:32 John brought the way of righteousness to you but you didn’t believe him, although the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. When you saw this happening, you still didn’t repent and believe him.

21:33 “Hear another parable. There was once a landowner who planted a vineyard, grew a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it, built a tower, leased it out to farmers, and went off on a journey. 21:34 When it was time for harvest he sent his servants to the farmers to collect his fruit. 21:35 The farmers took his servants, beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 21:36 He sent more servants than he had the first time, but they treated them the same way. 21:37 Then he sent them his son, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 21:38 But when they saw the son the farmers said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let’s kill him, and seize his inheritance.’ 21:39 So they took him, cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. 21:40 When the landowner comes, what will he do to those farmers?” 21:41 They told him, “He will arrange a horrible destruction for those horrible men, and will lease out the vineyard to other farmers who will give him the fruit at the right time.”

21:42 Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you read in the Scriptures, ‘The same stone which the builders rejected was made the head of the corner. This was from the Lord. It is amazing to our eyes?’ 21:43 I warn you that the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce the fruit. 21:44 Someone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, and someone on whom it falls will be scattered like dust.”

21:45 The senior priests and Pharisees knew that he was talking about them when they heard his parables. 21:46 They wanted to arrest him but were afraid of the crowds because they considered him to be a prophet.

Entry Filed under: Generosity

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. » Fai&hellip  |  May 17th, 2008 at 8:08 am

    […] Matthew 21 describes how Jesus caused a fig tree to shrivel up. When his disciples asked him how he had done that, he replied: “I can guarantee that if you have faith and don’t doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but if you ordered this mountain, ‘Rise up and fall into the sea,’ it would happen. You will receive whatever you ask in prayer, if you believe.” […]

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