Matthew 21 Overview

This chapter brings us to Jerusalem with Jesus. There are many important events that take place in chapter 21. Here’s a list of the highlights:

1. Triumphal Entry

2. Second purification of the Temple

3. Barren fig tree cursed

4. The secret of answered prayer

5.  Jesus’ authority questioned

6. Parable of the two sons

7. Parable of the householder


The scene is set for the incredibly dramatic events that take Jesus to the cross and the tomb, and to His glorious resurrection.  If you ever get the opportunity to see a good Passion Play, it is an experience you will always treasure.  My daughter and I were privileged to see the play in Oberammergau, Germany, in 2000. We went with my son and his wife.  It brought the events of that week to life in a whole new way, and I’m so thankful we were able to be there.

Overview of Chapter 6:1-18

This next section  tells us what the underlying motive of our righteous behavior should be.  It is not to sound a trumpet when we do something good, to blow our own horns to draw attention to ourselves for our righteous acts.

I don’t remember where I heard it, and a quick Google search didn’t turn it up for me, but the saying has stayed in my memory:  He who blows his own horn generally plays a solo.

No, we are not to be our own advertising agencies.

Now, in Chapter 6, Jesus discusses something even higher than He did in Chapter 5. He talks about the motive of this true righteousness which the heir of the kingdom is not only to possess, but also to practice. The motive is in all things to act in the presence of the Father!

The first 18 verses of Chapter 6 show this behavior in three relationships.  The first is in relation to others (6: 1-4); then in relation to God (6:5-15); and last in relation to self (6: 16-18).  The word Father shows up ten times in the first 18 verses of this chapter.  He sees, knows, all that we do and say–and even what we think. Therefore, all is to be done as before Him.  The how of this close, intimate relationship with God is not taught in Matthew.  You can go to the Gospel of John for that, and read about eternal life, the reception of this life, being born again, born into the family of God, and so on. All the wonderful things about being children of the Father are anticipated in Matthew, where He is the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Messiah and Redeemer.

How can we live in the presence of the Father if we do not know Him?  So much of Christianity today has no real Abba, Father relationship with God, yet they look at the sermon on the mount as a rule for conduct.  Such conduct cannot be achieved in unregenerate man.  It is only by the presence of the Holy Spirit, of God Himself in us, that we are able to live in such a way; and we are preparing for the kingdom to come by honoring God with our righteousness before Him.

Many years ago, I was teaching early American colonial literature to my students.  Ben Franklin, always an interesting man, came up with the idea of self-improvement.  He decided to make a chart of all the positive character traits he could think of.  These traits included love, kindness, mercy, grace, goodness of speech, industry, and many others.  Every week he would choose a new trait to work on.  Any day that he felt he had achieved, for instance, love–he would put a mark in that box on the chart.   At the end of each week, he would survey his results and decide whether or not to move to a new one.

Much to his chagrin, he found that when he moved from love and focused on industry, he did just fine in industry, but began to fall behind on love.  After a few weeks, he realized he could not keep a perfect score in every trait, and he threw the chart away. 

The moral of the story for us, of course, is to realize that it is God in us that refines our character and smooths out the rough edges of our pride, selfishness, and boastfulness.


I’m thankful for my friend who writes The Shepherd’s Presence for kindly pointing out to me that I haven’t set up my Matthew study clearly.

I’m not actually into the book itself yet.  What I’m doing now is defining some of the major themes:

I.  The King

II.  The Kingdom

III. The King and the Kingdom rejected

IV. The rejection of His Earthly People and their Judgment

V. The mysteries of the Kingdom of the Heavens

VI.  The Church

VII. The Mount of Olives Discourse

I should have stated clearly in my post on the King that I was preparing the way–giving a general outline for the study of Matthew. It would probably be helpful for you to go back and read the Matthew posts right from the beginning, since there have been a lot of non-related posts during this holiday season that may have caused a break in continuity.  You can do that easily if you’ll scroll down to “Categories” in the sidebar on the right and click on “Bible Study.”  That will give you all the Matthew posts without an interruption. The first one is Dec. 17.

I’m sorry for whatever confusion I have caused by just jumping in.  Bad habit of mine–impulse often trumps planning 🙂