Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Matthew
Book: Matthew
Chapter: 21

Christ enters Jerusalem. (1-11) He drives out those who
profaned the Temple. (12-17) The Barren Fig-tree cursed. (18-22)
Jesus' discourse in the Temple. (23-27) The Parable of the two
sons. (28-32) The Parable of the wicked husbandmen. (33-46)

1-11 This Coming of Christ was described By the Prophet
Zechariah, Zec 9:9. When Christ would appear in his Glory, it
is in his Meekness, not in his majesty, in Mercy to work
Salvation. As Meekness and outward poverty were fully seen in
Zion's King, and marked his triumphal entrance to Jerusalem, how
wrong Covetousness, ambition, and the pride of Life must be in
Zion's citizens! They brought the Ass, but Jesus did not use it
without the owner's consent. The trappings were such as came to
Hand. We must not think the clothes On our backs too dear to
part with for the service of Christ. The chief priests and the
elders afterwards joined with the multitude that abused him upon
the Cross; but none of them joined the multitude that did him
honour. Those that take Christ for their King, must lay their
all under his feet. Hosanna signifies, Save now, we beseech
thee! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord! But of
how little value is the applause of the people! The changing
multitude join the cry of the Day, whether it be Hosanna, or
Crucify him. Multitudes often seem to approve the Gospel, but
few become consistent disciples. When Jesus was come into
Jerusalem all the City was moved; some perhaps were moved with
joy, who waited for the Consolation of Israel; others, of the
Pharisees, were moved with envy. So various are the motions in
the minds of men upon the approach of Christ's kingdom.

12-17 Christ found some of the courts of the Temple turned into
a market for Cattle and things used in the sacrifices, and
partly occupied By the Money-changers. Our Lord drove them from
the place, as he had done at his entering upon his ministry,

Joh 2:13-17. His Works testified of him more than the
hosannas; and his healing in the Temple was the fulfilling of the
promise, that the Glory of the latter House should be greater
than the Glory of the former. If Christ came now into many parts
of his visible Church, how many secret evils he would discover
and cleanse! And how many things daily practised under the Cloak
of religion, would he show to be more suitable to a Den of
Thieves than to a House of Prayer!

18-22 This cursing of the Barren Fig-tree represents the state
of hypocrites in general, and So teaches us that Christ looks
for the power of religion in those who profess it, and the
savour of it from those that have the show of it. His just
expectations from flourishing professors are often disappointed;
he comes to many, seeking Fruit, and finds leaves only. A false
profession commonly withers in this world, and it is the effect
of Christ's Curse. The Fig-tree that had No Fruit, soon lost its
leaves. This represents the state of the nation and people of
the Jews in particular. Our Lord Jesus found among them nothing
but leaves. And after they rejected Christ, blindness and
hardness grew upon them, till they were undone, and their place
and nation rooted up. The Lord was righteous in it. Let us
greatly fear the doom denounced On the Barren Fig-tree.

23-27 As our Lord now openly appeared as the Messiah, the chief
priests and Scribes were much offended, especially because he
exposed and removed the abuses they encouraged. Our Lord asked
what they thought of John's ministry and Baptism. Many are more
afraid of the shame of lying than of the Sin, and therefore
scruple not to speak what they know to be false, as to their own
thoughts, affections, and intentions, or their remembering and
forgetting. Our Lord refused to answer their inquiry. It is best
to shun needless disputes with wicked opposers.

28-32 Parables which give reproof, speak plainly to the
offenders, and Judge them out of their own mouths. The Parable
of the two sons sent to work in the vineyard, is to show that
those who knew not John's Baptism to be of God, were shamed By
those who knew it, and owned it. The whole human race are like
children whom the Lord has brought up, but they have rebelled
against him, only some are more plausible in their disobedience
than others. And it often happens, that the daring rebel is
brought to Repentance and becomes the Lord's servant, while the
formalist grows hardened in pride and Enmity.

33-46 This Parable plainly sets forth the Sin and ruin of the
Jewish nation; and what is spoken to convict them, is spoken to
caution all that enjoy the privileges of the outward Church. As
men treat God's people, they would treat Christ himself, if he
were with them. How can we, if Faithful to his cause, expect a
favourable reception from a wicked world, or from ungodly
professors of Christianity! And let us ask ourselves, whether we
who have the vineyard and all its advantages, render fruits in
due season, as a people, as a family, or as separate persons.
Our Saviour, in his question, declares that the Lord of the
vineyard will come, and when he comes he will surely destroy the
wicked. The chief priests and the elders were the builders, and
they would not admit his doctrine or laws; they threw him aside
as a despised Stone. But he who was rejected By the Jews, was
embraced By the Gentiles. Christ knows who will bring forth
Gospel fruits in the use of Gospel means. The unbelief of
sinners will be their ruin. But God has many ways of restraining
the remainders of wrath, as he has of making that which breaks
out redound to his praise. May Christ become more and more
precious to our souls, as the firm Foundation and Cornerstone of
his Church. May we be willing to follow him, though despised and
hated for his sake.