New Defender's Study Bible Notes
21:2 a colt with her. The parallel accounts in Mark 11:2 and Luke 19:30 only mention one donkey, but that does not mean they deny that two were involved. Also, Matthew is the only one who mentions that this incident was in fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, but the others must have known this reference.
21:4 spoken by the prophet. See Zechariah 9:9. Here for the first time publicly, Christ presented Himself to the Jews as their promised Messiah and King.
21:9 the multitudes. These multitudes were unwittingly fulfilling Psalm 118:25-26 (“Hosanna” means “save now”). However, they only perceived Jesus as “the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee” (Matthew 21:11), and were evidently expecting Him somehow to defeat the Romans and restore the kingdom to Israel. People had frequently called Him “son of David,” evidently knowing about the genealogy of His (foster) father, and realizing He was the legal heir to David’s throne (see note on Matthew 1:16).
However, just five days later, these same multitudes—apparently disappointed by His meek submission to arrest and torture by the Jewish and Roman rulers—were calling for His crucifixion, preferring to release Barabbas who had led a rebellion against the Romans (Matthew 27:21-22).
21:12 cast out all them. Jesus had similarly cleansed the temple near the very beginning of His earthly ministry (John 2:13-16), yet only a few years later the religious profiteers were at it again. This second purging, probably as much as anything else, caused the rulers to determine to have Him executed.
21:13 It is written. Jesus quoted here from two otherwise rather obscure passages, Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11. In His humanity alone, He had mastered the Scriptures, and applied them masterfully to specific situations and needs.
21:16 have ye never read. Quoting Psalm 8:2, Christ rebuked “the chief priests and scribes” for rebuking the children crying in the temple (Matthew 21:15). Thus children may—and often do—have better spiritual insights than their elders.
21:19 leaves only. The Palestinian fig tree normally produces both leaves and small figs in early March, so that this tree should have borne figs along with its leaves. The heavy foliage of fig leaves, covering the nakedness of a barren fig tree, as it were, perhaps reminded the Lord of the “aprons” of fig leaves used by Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:7) in that far off day when He came to walk with them in the Garden of Eden. More immediately, of course, He would think of Judah and Jerusalem, outwardly prosperous and religious, but inwardly spiritually barren. Israel had often been symbolized in Scripture as a fig tree (Isaiah 34:4; Jeremiah 24:1-8; Hosea 9:10; Luke 13:6-9), and its religious leaders had rejected Him and were now intent on getting rid of Him. Accordingly He “cursed” the fig tree (Mark 11:21), just as He had cursed Adam and Eve and their whole dominion (Genesis 3:16-19), thus symbolizing the terrible fate awaiting the Jews because of their spiritual unfruitfulness.
21:22 believing, ye shall receive. There are other conditions for answered prayer, of course (I John 5:14; James 4:3), but true belief would be founded upon all these.
21:25 The baptism of John. Jesus responded to the challenge of these religious leaders by reminding them of how they had ignored the teaching of John the Baptist. John had clearly, in the hearing of their delegates, stressed that the authority of Jesus had come from God (John 1:19,29-34).
21:33 vineyard. In this parable and others, the vineyard, like the fig tree, often symbolizes Israel (Isaiah 5:7). The servants sent to collect the fruit represent the prophets, and finally the son of the householder represents Christ—all of them rejected and slain by the keepers of the vineyard.
21:42 the builders rejected. The Scripture cited here is Psalm 118:22-23—the same psalm sung by the multitude as He was riding into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:9). In their very rejection of Christ, these builders were fulfilling His Word!
21:44 fall on this stone. It had been predicted that the Messiah would be “a stone of stumbling” to Israel (Isaiah 8:14), and that those who fall over it would “be broken” (Isaiah 8:15), for that same stone would become eventually “the head of the corner” (Matthew 21:42). Finally, the stone would be used to crush and grind to powder the Gentile nations that God would use as a rod to chastise Israel (Daniel 2:34-35,45).