BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 21, Day 5: Matthew 21:1-17; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-19

Summary of passages:  Matthew 21:1-17:  On Jesus’ approach to Jerusalem, he sent two disciples to the village ahead of them to retrieve a donkey and her colt, which fulfilled Zechariah’s prophecy (Zechariah 9:9).  The disciples brought the donkey, which Jesus rode into Jerusalem.  The crowd spread cloaks and branches cut from trees on the road for him.  He caused quite the stir.

Jesus entered the temple area and drove out those selling there.  He overturned the money changers tables and benches of the dove sellers, accusing them of turning his temple into a den of robbers.  Jesus healed the blind and lame and children shouted his praise.  The chief priests and teachers of the law were unhappy with this.  Jesus stayed the night in Bethany.

Luke 19:28-44:  Jesus approached Jerusalem  and when he reached the Mount of Olives he sent two of his disciples ahead to bring him a colt.  The owners of the colt asked why they were taking it and the disciples replied because the Lord needs it.  Jesus sat on the colt and rode it into Jerusalem.  The whole crowd of disciples began praising God and some of the Pharisees in the crowd told Jesus to rebuke them.  Jesus refused.

Jesus wept over the crowd because they did not recognized Jesus for who he was.  Jesus predicts a day when their enemies will surround and kill them and tear down everything because of this.

John 12:12-19:  The crowd who had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem.  They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting praises.  Jesus found a donkey and sat upon it, fulfilling Zechariah’s prophecy.  His disciples still did not understand and wouldn’t until after Jesus’ resurrection how he fulfilled prophecy.

The crowd that had witnessed Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead spread the word and so many came out to meet him, causing great distress amongst the Pharisees.

Questions:

11a)  Jesus knew where the donkey and the colt were.  He told his disciples that if anyone asks, tell them that the Lord needs them and they will send the donkey, implying that they know who the Lord is.  Luke says that Jesus says the donkey has never been ridden, a fact he would only know if he had met the owner before.

b)  Matthew 21:8:  “A very large crowd”  Luke 19:37  “The whole crowd of disciples”  John 12:12:  “The great crowd that had come for the Feast”  Mark describes them simply as “many people” Mark 11:8

c)  Matthew 21:15-16 says the chief priests and the teachers of the law.  Luke and John say the Pharisees (Luke 19:39) & (John 12:19).  Mark says this does not mention this on Jesus’ entry but says how the next day the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for a way to kill him because of his teachings (Mark 11:18).

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The same words as the crowd:  “Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!”.  John calls him “The King of Israel.”

12)  Zechariah 9:9 says how Jesus the king will be riding on a donkey.  Daniel 9:24-27 gives the exact days of when the Anointed One will come in relation to the re-building of the temple and how the people will not recognize this.

Psalm 118:24: This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.  The day Jesus enters Jerusalem is “the day” here.

13a)  To be a house of prayer

b)  John 2:18-22:  As a symbol for the body, specifically Jesus’ body

1 Corinthians 6:19:  To describe the body and a dwelling for the Holy Spirit.  “Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit”

Ephesians 2:21–22:  The temple is again described as our body being built to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.  You (believers) are build and joined together on and by Christ which will rise to become a holy temple.  So here, the body of Christ (the Church).  Read verses 19-20 as well for a clearer picture.

c)  The Holy Spirit cleanses us when it indwells us.  It washes us and we are reborn and renewed.  We receive the Holy Spirit when we accept Jesus as our Savior and his death on the cross that took away our sins.  Therefore, his blood washes away our uncleanness.

Conclusions:  Why aren’t we reading Mark and comparing it here (Mark 11:1-19)?  All 4 gospels record Jesus’ triumphal entry.  I would think that’s kind of important to study, wouldn’t you?  So I did anyways (since this is my bible study as well) and threw in the verses where appropriate.  Mark has his triumphal entry separated into two days:  The first just entering and the second day where he enters the temple and is there confronted by the priests.

Map from yesterday that shows how close Bethany is to Jerusalem and Jesus’ descent into Jerusalem:

http://www.bible-history.com/maps/images/matthew_jesus_comes_to_jerusalem.jpg

End Notes:  This is Jesus’ last week alive in human form on this earth.  Gone is all the secrecy as Jesus is ready to proclaim himself as King and fulfill prophecy doing it.  The entry is very public and Jesus knows he will garner attention and face his critics.  It is the Passover feast in Jerusalem which explains the crowds.

In the time of Abraham, donkeys were used by royalty for transportation.  The horse has only recently been introduced to Israel and thus royalty now rides on horses.  Now, only the poor ride on donkeys.  Jesus is coming in humility and peace.

The palm branches symbolized victory and success.  Hosanna means “Save!” and the crowd used it as a form of praise.  We praise God in loud voices because we need to praise God.  Use whatever you have.  It doesn’t have to be fancy.  It can be as simple as a palm branch.  Or, in response to Him, the people laid down their cloaks.  This was a much bigger sacrifice for in ancient times people usually only had one set of clothes.  So this was literally giving the clothes off of their back for Jesus.

Jesus cleanses the temple of all those defiling it and then heals the outcasts.  Note how the chief priests and the teachers of the law do not care that Jesus is praised by children and healing others nor about the greed and thievery in the temple.  All they care about is the threat to their power.  This is the one place Gentiles could come and worship and for the moneylenders and sellers and buyers to be there, they were preventing the Gentiles (all nations) coming to Jesus.

Jesus weeps as God weeps over our sins and our hard hearts for he knows what is to come for those who do not choose him.

It was common for pilgrims to stay outside the city during the Feast.  The inns were probably booked and the prices were probably higher.  Just like in modern times.  You stay in the suburbs to save money!

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 21, Day 4: Matthew 20:17-34

Summary of passage:  Jesus tells the disciples as they are walking towards Jerusalem that he will be betrayed, handed over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law, mocked, flogged, die by crucifixion, and rise again in 3 days.  The mother of Zedebee’s sons (James and John) comes to Jesus to ask that her sons be elevated to sit by Jesus’ right and left in the kingdom.  Jesus told her she has no idea what she is asking even though she will drink from the cup.  Jesus says that those spots are for God to grant.

When the other disciples heard what the mother of James and John had asked Jesus, they were indignant.  Jesus called them together and said that they are not like the Gentiles whose lord reigns over them.  Instead, if you want to become great, you must serve and be like a slave just like the Son of Man came to serve and die for others.

Jesus grants two blind men sight as they are leaving Jericho.

Questions:

8a)  “The Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law.  They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified.  On the third day he will be raised to life!”

b)  They are still picturing Jesus’ kingdom as earthly and that he will sit on a throne where one of them will sit on his right and his left.  So James and John (or their mother) decide to beat the others to this position of status and ask for it.  The fact that the two asked for it shows they have no idea.  The fact that the others were angry and argued over it shows they didn’t understand.  And Luke tells us that the disciples did not understand because the meaning was hidden from them.

They didn’t understand Jesus’ came to save us from our sins for a heavenly kingdom.

c)  Jesus said he came to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many, showing his greatness.

9a)  The cup symbolizes God’s wrath and when it is poured out is God’s judgment on man.  Keep reading in Isaiah and it says that the Lord will take the cup out of man’s hand and man shall never drink of it again.  Instead it will be put into the hands of man’s tormentors (Isaiah 51:22-23).  Psalm says God’s judges and He pours out His judgement on the earth and the wicked drink it (or receive) His judgement.

b)  He drunk it to save man from God’s judgment, to take upon himself the sins that God would judge.  To serve as a ransom for us.  To die for our sins so that we might live in righteousness and be healed.

c)  First, they both suffered (as all Christians do for their faith).  James was martyred by King Herod and John was banished to the island of Patmos (a hard-labor penal colony) because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.  Second, when they died, they rose to heaven to share in God’s righteousness.

d)  God’s cup, the cup of Jesus, the cup that contains Jesus’ blood that forgives us for our sins

10)  Personal Question.  My answer:  First, the man’s acknowledgement of Jesus as king.  Second, the fact the man would not be quiet nor rebuked.  He pursued Jesus with even more passion.  Third, the man asked for exactly what he wanted.  Fourth, that the man’s faith healed him.  Fifth, they followed him.

Me:  I will acknowledge Jesus as Lord in my life.  I will not be quiet about it nor be rebuked.  I will pursue him with even more passion.  I will ask for exactly what I want in my life to happen.  I will have the faith that Jesus will grant my petitions.  I will follow him along the road he leads me on.

Conclusions:  The story of the blind men being healed brings together beautifully all that we have been learning in Matthew.  How we must acknowledge Jesus as Lord in our lives.  How we are not to be rebuked because of our faith.  How we must continue to pursue Jesus with all of our hearts.  How we need to ask Jesus for what we want and believe he will do it.  How we must follow him.  Always.  Great, great little lesson packed in 6 verses!

I find it interesting how the mother came in Matthew’s version to ask for her sons.  How often do we do this for our kids?  One daughter of mine doesn’t like asking adults for things and since she is young, I do it.  Eventually, she must learn to ask for herself what she herself desires.  Here, we have a mother asking for her two grown sons.  Once a mother, always a mother!  Always wanting what’s best for her kids!

This is probably the most glaring example of how the disciples still don’t get it as they jockey for earthly positions.  I find it interesting though why God would hide this knowledge from them.  It’s hard to fault the disciples when the knowledge has not been revealed to them.  Yes, they should have figured it out by now but they have no help it seems from God and definitely no Holy Spirit yet to guide them.

God has His reasons and I’m hoping to get a better glimpse as we get closer and closer to Jesus’ death in Matthew.

I loved the God’s cup study.  I know we discussed this in the study of Isaiah but it has been a few years!  Another great example of my mantra “to keep reading” because the cup is more fully explained in Isaiah than BSF had us read.

End Notes:  Matthew 27:55-56 tells us that the mother of James and John had been following him from Galilee to care for his needs.  Hence, she would have intimate knowledge of Jesus and the disciples and her sons desires.

Note the mother asks but who does Jesus respond to?  “them”  This shows us that James and John are standing beside their mother as she is asking.  She is their voice.  We must remember that Jesus just told them  that the disciples will sit on 12 thrones, judging, during the Second Coming (Matthew 19:28).  So they are probably wanting to sit the closest to him on these thrones.

James was the first martyr and the first to die of the disciples.  John lived the longest and was the only disciple to not be martyred and had to be prepared to receive God’s word that became must of the New Testament.

Mark gives us the phrase “be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with”, which shows us exactly the suffering they would endure.

Jesus said outright how they (disciples) should be different than the Gentiles.  Today, we can say how believers should be different from unbelievers in the same sense.  We are held to a higher standard and Jesus here expected more from his disciples than petty jealously and concern over rank.

Ransom here commonly referred to in ancient times the price paid to free a slave.  Here, Jesus refers to the price he paid as he frees us from the bondage of our sins.

Scholars connect the “many” here with the “many” in Isaiah 53:11 & 12.

Map of Jesus’ Journey to Jerusalem showing Jericho:

http://www.bible-history.com/maps/images/matthew_jesus_comes_to_jerusalem.jpg

Map showing all of First-Century Israel:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3d/First_century_palestine.gif

Final Note:  I love how Jesus knows; yet asks us anyways, “What do you want me to do for you?”  We need to be just as clear about our needs and wants as Jesus is.  He stops to hear us and listen.

“You do not have, because you do not ask God.”  James 4:2

Jesus is passing us by.  Will we sit and be quiet and say nothing or will we shout out to him, get his attention, and ask for our most pressing needs?

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 21, Day 3: Matthew 20:1-16

Summary of passage:  Jesus gives a parable to illustrate the kingdom of heaven and his principle he had just stated in the previous verse of the last being first.  He tells the story of a landowner who hired workers for his fields.  He hired workers all throughout the day, promising them one denarius for their labor for that day.

At the end of the day, the landowner hands out the wages.  He pays all the men the same, whether they worked all day or only one hour of the day.  Those who had worked all day began to grumble against the landowner for they felt they had borne the majority of the work.  But the landowner says they all agreed to work for one denarius and since it is his money, he can do with it as he pleases.  Due to his generosity, the last is first.

Questions:

7a)  This parable is an illustration of how in God’s kingdom the last will be first and the first will be last for the landowner paid the last ones hired first and he paid them the same amount for less work.  It also shows the reward (denarius) and how God’s rewards are not like man’s rewards.

b)  It shows God’s grace, which is a gift from God and we don’t have to earn it.  It shows how the person who comes to God at the end of life enjoys the same benefits as life-long followers of Jesus and being jealous of that can only rob us of the joy God has given us throughout our entire lives.  God is in control and ultimately decides who gets what and we are not to question His judgement nor to worry about others.

Some scholars also say this illustrates the dawning of the Gospel, how it all started with John the Baptist, Jesus, Pentecost, Jews, and then the Gentiles.

c)  The older brother and the men who worked all day have the same attitude:  they deserve more because they worked harder and obeyed and did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and those who disobeyed and barely worked are receiving the same.  They both fail to grasp God’s grace:  His promises are for all and His rewards are for all.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  We and they don’t deserve anything but hell.  It’s well to keep that in mind when we all have a tendency to become jealous of others or think we are better than others because of what we have done.  God’s grace alone is what saves us.

e)  Personal Question.  My answer:  No matter how evil people are or how twisted their earthly life may have been God will forgive and welcome them if only they believe.  We here on Earth want justice and consequences  and ours is not God’s.  We would say they don’t deserve heaven.  God says they do.  Our ways are not His ways.  God’s grace is amazing in that way.  We don’t deserve Him yet for some reason, He wants us and gives us a way to be with Him.  And for that we should all be grateful.

Conclusions:  I love this story!  I wanted to spend all of Lesson 21 on it!  It is such a clear picture of how God’s ways are not our own, of God’s fairness and justice, and of God’s grace that it is humbling for us who do God’s will to remember God is for everyone no matter their sins against us.  And when judgment arises, we need to remember God judges and we are to love.  Period.

End Notes:  The marketplace was where day-laborers gathered with all their tools, hoping to be hired.  Early in the morning was probably dawn.  A denarius was the going rate at that time for a day’s pay.

The landowner went every 3 hours to the marketplace.  So assuming dawn was 6 am, the third hour would be 9 am, the sixth hour would be noon, and the eleventh hour would have been about 5 pm.

Note the landowners surprise to find workers.  During harvest time, it was a race against time to get the crops in and yet some are still standing idle.

Spurgeon applies this to all of us:  why should any of us be standing around idle when we have God’s work to do?  He has hired us to do a job and we need to be doing it!

The early workers expected more after seeing the late workers get paid a denarius.  How many times do we expect more (especially from others) and our hopes are dashed, leaving us feeling offended, slighted, wounded, and hurt feelings?

The phrase “evil eye” in some editions and not in the NIV which is translated as envious means the same thing. “Evil eye” was used by the ancient Jews to denote a jealous person.  I just found this fascinating.  The expression also means in many cultures that a look can bring misfortune upon someone.  It is a belief held by most cultures as far back as Classical antiquity (recorded times) so presumably further than that.

Fascinating history of the “evil eye” HERE

I’ve always heard this as “to give someone the evil eye”, which means to look at someone in a mean or angry way.  Fascinating how expressions and meanings change over time (and not change over time)!

God reserves the right to be more than fair and more generous to others.  He is always fair but to some He blesses more.  That is His divine right as God.  We are to look at this as a blessing to us as well for we are all one body, doing His work.

Everything is under God’s grace.  It is through His grace that we:  are alive.  Are given His calling. Are given the ability to do His calling.  Are given the opportunity to do His will.  Are given success at doing His will.  Are forgiven, made righteous, and receive eternal life.  All God’s grace. Everything.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 21, Day 2: Matthew 19:23-30

Summary of passage:  Jesus spoke to his disciples, saying it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven and the disciples were astonished at this news and asked Jesus then who can be saved.  Jesus said only with God can you be saved.  Peter says they have left everything to follow him so what will there be for them.

Jesus says they will sit on 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel when he comes again and everyone who has believed in him will receive eternal life.  Many who are first will be last and many who are last will be first.

Questions:

3a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Many people put achieving earthly success over Godly success and strive their whole lives to achieve things that will not matter in heaven and that they cannot take with them.  It is harder for them to enter heaven because they are unwilling to give up their stuff to follow Jesus.  It’s easier to give up less to follow him.  But when you think you have a lot to lose, you hesitate, and ultimately, like the young man here, you turn your back on Jesus himself.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God can do all things, even what we think is impossible.  He can overcome hard hearts and if we believe and trust in Him to do so, He will.

Luke’s version of this story puts it best:  “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”  Luke 18:27

4a)  They will receive 100 times as much as they have given up.  This may not always be in the material sense but in a spiritual sense.

b)  Eternal life.

5a)  Those who leave something or someone for him will receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and fields–and with them, persecutions) and eternal life in the age to come.

b)  Romans 8:17-18:  We are heirs of God and Christ and we will share in his sufferings so we may share in his glory.

2 Timothy 3:12:  “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”

1 Peter 2:19-21:  We were called to suffer and endure unjust suffering for doing God’s will because Christ suffered for us, leaving us his example to follow.

1 Peter 4:12-13:  Peter tells us it is a privilege and a joy to suffer for Christ so that we may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.  Painful trials should not be a surprise but an expectancy.  We should praise God for them because we bear them for Christ.

6)  We are allowed to share in His glory.  We know we will have eternal life.  We will receive 100 times as much which could be in wealth, or in peace, or in joy or in contentment for doing His will.  Knowing you are doing His work makes life easier to get through.  You always have Him to cling to.  And you always have the desire to keep moving forward when everything else is collapsing around you.

Conclusions:  I like the contrast with the glory and the suffering.  So many churches today just focus on the glory part and ignore the fact we are to suffer as well.  I believe this is important, especially with the younger generation who is growing up with a more and more entitlement attitude which is only setting them up for failure for when they do suffer hardships they will not know where to turn.

End Notes:  If you think about it, those who live in today’s world are richer than the man who wouldn’t give up his riches.

Riches foster independence and self-reliance.  It’s harder to rely on God say for example for food if you have it abundantly.  They also hamper our desire for something else if we have everything we need.

The disciples were shocked at Jesus’ words because in ancient times, riches were a sign of God’s blessings for the Jews.  Think of Abraham and Isaac.  David and Solomon.  God blessed them to the point they were the richest men in their known world.  Jacob was in fact the second-most powerful and richest man in the entire world.  Riches usually meant you relied on God and thanked Him for your blessings.  They were an outward sign of God’s blessings.

So the disciples were confused.  If the rich men weren’t saved and they were supposed to be the most Godly, then who can be saved?  Think of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.  They were all moderately wealthy.

I personally believe this has changed over time.  It was true in Abraham’s time that God used wealth as a sign of favor–to show other peoples that God is the One, True God and you’d better not mess with Him or His people.  As time has passed and more and more people know God, this has become unnecessary and in fact culture has twisted this and used wealth for mere pleasure rather than for God’s glory and it has become a barrier to God instead of a blessing from God.  To this is what Jesus is speaking.

Still, it is hard for people 2000 years ago who grew up with wealth being a sign of God’s blessings to accept.  Because it was still probably partially true to some extent.  It takes time for men’s minds and cultures to change beliefs.

Yet, still, “Everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Luke 12:48  and Luke 19:26, Jesus repeats the idea:  “To everyone who has, more will be given.”

I still think God blesses those who are His with wealth as well.  Wealth can be material or spiritual or in other ways.  Yet, He expects much from those He blesses.  As He should and as we should expect from ourselves.

Peter, again, speaks without thinking.  He selfishly wants to know what he will get for following Jesus.  As if eternal salvation and forgiveness of our sins and righteousness with God WEREN’T enough!

Jesus says our rewards in heaven will not be based on our perceived status here on earth.  If you are first in this society, you will be last and vice versa.  Basically, what man rewards may not be what God rewards.  God is the ultimate judge of success, not man.