Matthew 21:28–32 (ESV)
The Parable of the Two Sons
28 “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went
to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. 30 And he went to the other
son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the
tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when
you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.
Jesus graphically depicts the obstinance of His opponents and the depth of their sin in rejecting Him. There are times that our stubborn refusals to change
our behavior are just as obstinate. In God’s kingdom, no repentant sinner is ever turned away. Repentant tax collectors and prostitutes were welcomed; so are we!
I pray: “Chief of sinners though I be, Jesus shed His
blood for me, Died that I might live on high, Lives that I might never die. As the branch is to the vine, I am His, and He is mine.” Amen.
Matthew 21:23–27 (ESV)
The Authority of Jesus Challenged
23 And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?”
24 Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, from where
did it come? From heaven or from man?” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say,
‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority
I do these things.
When His opponents challenge the source of His authority, Jesus exhibits wisdom that powerfully attests
to His status as one sent by God. Like Jesus’ opponents, we sometimes challenge the Lord’s authority and attempt to stand in judgment of Him. But God rightly judges us, not vice versa. Jesus willingly submitted to the authority of those who falsely
accused Him and unjustly condemned Him to death. By His death, He won our salvation.
I pray: Give us grace always to submit to Your authority, O
Lord, for it comes from heaven and so can lead us there, where we will reign with You forever. Amen.
Matthew 21:18–22 (ESV)
Jesus Curses the Fig Tree
18 In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it,
“May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.
20 When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at
once?” 21 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and
thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. 22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
cursing a fruitless fig tree, Jesus reveals symbolically God’s judgment against the faithless and fruitless portion of His covenant people. Though we are saved by faith alone, producing fruit for God and His kingdom is not optional. Though faithlessness
rightly deserves God’s wrath, God Himself works faithfulness in us and grants a rich reward of blessings.
I pray: Lord Jesus, You are the true vine.
Apart from You, we can do nothing. Keep us united to You, that we produce abundant fruit to Your glory. Amen.
Matthew 21:12–17 (ESV)
Jesus Cleanses the Temple
12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He
said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
14 And the blind and the lame came to him in
the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant,
16 and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read,
“ ‘Out of the mouth of infants
and nursing babies
you have prepared praise’?”
17 And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there.
Immediately after being acclaimed Messiah, Jesus further
provokes the Jewish leaders by driving merchants and money-changers out of the temple. Sometimes financial concerns eclipse the Church’s real priority: faithfully teaching the Word and administering the Sacraments. Jesus responds to our misuse of holy
things not by yanking them away from us but rather by correcting us and calling us to receive them worthily, unto faith and salvation.
I pray: “Almighty, ever-living God, grant that … all my worship may be acceptable
unto Thee; through Jesus Christ, my Lord.” Amen. 
Matthew 21:1–11 (ESV)
The Triumphal Entry
when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” 4 This
took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,
5 “Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’ ”
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. 8 Most
of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the
crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
Palm Sunday is a high point, as a crowd at the Jewish capital openly acclaims Jesus as Messiah. It is also a turning
point, however, since it galvanizes His opponents. Like the crowds in Jerusalem, we are prone to fickleness—today all for the Lord, tomorrow turning from Him. Though we often prove faithless, Jesus remains constant. His love and forgiveness never falter.
I pray: “‘Hosanna in the highest!’ That ancient song we sing; For Christ is our Redeemer, The Lord of heav’n our King.” Amen.