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Week 20: Matthew 21-23, Mark 11, Luke 19-20, & John 12


Verse 1: The location of Bethphage is unknown. What is known is that the disciples were traveling from Jericho and, therefore, were coming from the east. This might be reminiscent of what is prophesied by the Savior a few chapters later about how his second coming will begin from the east and go westward (see Matthew 24:27).

Verse 2: The revelatory knowledge of Christ is present here. The location of the Donkey is presented in a similar manner from when Jesus told the disciple fishermen the location of fish. McConkie calls this 'seership' (see DNTC, digital copy, p. 499).

Verse 5: Matthew interjects here and quotes Zechariah 9:9 (see also Isaiah 62:10). Dr. Wayment suggests that there is an ancient error in this verse that may go back to the original author of this gospel. The KJV translation and others suggest there were two animals. The JST suggests there was only the donkey. (see New Testament: Translation for Latter-Day Saints, p. 45)

Verses 8-9: The events of spreading garments were usually only reserved for Kings and conquerors (see 2 Kings 9:13). This is adulation, therefore, in the highest sense. Verse 9 is a quotation of Psalm 118:25-26. Hosanna means save now. Wayment writes, "Jesus is also declared to be the Messiah with the phrase 'the one who comes' (NT:TFLDS, p. 45). Interestingly, this collective quoting of the Psalms reflects well the ancient practice, as suggested by Dr. Baker and Dr. Ricks in their phenomenal book, of the Israelite king coming into the city and bringing security, protection, salvation, and ancient temple ordinances with them. This allowed the King to literally 'save Israel now' from a ritualistic standpoint. The gathering of people in Jerusalem to see the spectacle might, therefore, have occurred due to being familiar with this ancient ritual/practice instead of it being an organic occurrence. It is my opinion (as we shall see later in the Barker commentary of John 12) that there are so many temple themes going on here.

Verses 12-17: The cleansing of the temple is confusing as to when it really happened. Matthew puts it at the end of Christ's mortal ministry, while other gospels put it at the beginning. Scholars do not believe Christ cleansed the temple twice. What is often not so discussed in this event is that after the money changers are cast out is Jesus having the blind and the lame come unto Him. He heals them. The Jewish leaders see it and marvel. The children cry out marvelous things as well (NOTE: McConkie suggests that these are not literal children, but 'children of the kingdom' who were newborn babes in Christ.). The interesting thing for me is that verses 14-16 appear to be a microcosm of the same events that occurred in 3 Nephi 11-27. Jesus ascends from the East to the temple and then invited people to be healed. Words unlawful to be written comes out of the mouth of babes. It is highly possible these events are not as grand as the ones in 3 Nephi, but they do parallel each other highly. 

Verses 18-22: Talmage comments on the symbolism of the barren fig tree:
"Were it reasonable to regard the tree as possessed of moral agency, we would have to pronounce it a hypocrite; its utter barrenness coupled with its abundance of foliage made of it a type of human hypocrisy... The leafy, fruitless tree was a symbol of Judaism, which loudly proclaimed itself as the only true religion of the age, and condescendingly invited all the world to come and partake of its rich ripe fruit; when in truth it was but an unnatural growth of leaves, with no fruit of the season, nor even an edible bulb held over from earlier years, for such as it had of former fruitage was dried to worthlessness and made repulsive in its worm-eaten decay. The religion of Israel had degenerated into an artificial religionism, which in pretentious show and empty profession outclassed the abominations of heathendom." (Jesus The Christ, p. 527.)
Jesus also appears to be showing how faith and power operate in Him and how that same Faith/power is available to all who do not doubt.

Verses 23-32: After an exchange with hypocritical chief priests, the Savior tells the Parable of the Two Sons. This parable is unique to Matthew and appears to be in direct response to the chief priests who were unwilling to admit what they really thought about John the Baptist. The chief priests are compared to the son who said he would work in the vineyard but didn't go. The tax collectors and the prostitutes are like the son who at first did not respond well or go work, but eventually, they did. This parable tells us something about how the Lord views those who talk a good game but do not act.

Verses 33-46: A second parable is told by the Savior to the same audience and it is much more plain. It is built around similar themes found in Isaiah 5:1-7. The interpretation of the parable, as far as I understand it, appears to be plain. The two sets of servants appear to symbolize prophets in two different time periods. The first set of servants might refer to those prophets in the antediluvian period since they are not as many as the servants in the second group. The second group could refer prophets who multiplied upon the land. This was during the initial apostasy of Israel and the Lord called many prophets to teach and testify of Christ and to declare repentance. An example of who was included in this second group is that of Lehi, Jeremiah, and Isaiah who appear to all three be contemporaries of each other.

The landowner eventually sends his actual Son and the expectation is that the farmers will honor him, but they end up killing him as well. It is axiomatic to see that this is a symbol of the Father sending Christ to minister among Israel. It is because of their rejection of John and Jesus Christ the Kingdom of God will be taken from them and given to the Gentiles. This parable is quite prophetic considering how close these events are to his actual betrayal, arrest, and crucifixion.


Verses 1-14: The parable of the marriage of the King's son is a reference to the wedding feast spoken of at the end of the Book of Revelation.

I ran out of time this week to finish the rest of the commentary. Having a full commentary of Matthew 21 is all I will have this week. There will be other sources I will share on my Facebook Page as the week goes on.


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