Matthew Chapter 24

Jesus Foretells the Future:  
(Read Matthew 24:1-31)
In chapter 24 and 25 we have Jesus’ last discourse known as the Olivet Discourse. This message includes the prediction of the fall of Jerusalem and signs of the end time. Jesus left the Temple and went to the mount of Olivet. His disciples came to him and asked Jesus three questions.  “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age”.   The entire discourse is the answer to these three questions. The key to interpreting this passage rests on ones’ view of the gospel and the church. The signs of the end time are general characteristics of the present age. These are followed by more specific signs of the Tribulation period and the return of Christ (Matthew 24:13-26). Jesus warns that believers should not be led astray by false prophets. Many will come in Christ’s name.  The religious deception will go from bad to worse (Matthew 24:4-5). There will be war and rumors of wars (Matthew 24:6-7).  Natural disasters will be intensified. The believers will face severe persecution (Matthew 24:9-13). Because of the increase of sin, the love of many will grow cold (Matthew 24:12). The gospel will be preached throughout the whole world (Matthew 24:14).  It will be a time of great horror. But all this will be only the beginning of the horrors to come.  Unless the time is shortened the entire human race will be destroyed. But it will be shortened for the sake of God’s elect. The false Christ and prophets will perform miracles and try to deceive even the elect. Though believers suffer, there is no need to fear because God is our source of strength. Their suffering cannot be compared to the glory that will soon be revealed (Romans 8:18). Then Christ will return to establish His Millennial Kingdom on earth.  Many Scholars believe that first, Christ will come in the cloud for the church, then he returns with the church to judge the world (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; 2 Thessalonians 2:8).    
 
Signs of the coming of the Son of Man:   
(Read Matthew 24:32-51)
This passage gives the importance of being ready for the coming of Christ.  His return will be marked by the signs of great power and glory.  These signs will be intensified and become frequent before Christ’s return. He will send his angels to gather the elect from the ends of the earth. The fig tree is symbolic of the nation of Israel.  When its branches become tender and puts out its leaves, the summer is near.  Some view the fig tree as Israel’s budding in the last days as a nation.  Prior to the return of Christ, sin will grow worse. The last days began with the church and continue today.  Do not speculate the day of Christ’s return because only the Father knows it (Acts 1:7).  But it will be like the days of Noah.  Before the flood, people become casual and indifferent toward the coming judgment. Some would be taken, and others will be left out for judgment. Some scholars consider this as rapture of the church. This section ends with a warning. “Therefore, be prepared, because you don’t know what day your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:42).  The Parable of two servants shows how serious their responsibility is. They must be always ready because Christ can return at any time. Blessed is the servant who will be found alert and serving the master faithfully.  The wicked servant will be judged and there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Those who are faithful and watchful will never regret about the hardship they endure and staying ready for the Master’s return.  Christians should wait eagerly for the return of Christ. 

Matthew Chapter 23

Jesus Warns the Religious Leader:
(Read Matthew 23:1-15)
Jesus exposes the hypocrisy of religious leaders in this chapter. He wanted his disciples to benefit from this warning.  The Scribes and Pharisees were scholars of the Law.  Because of their learning, they held position of authority and influence in the society.  They burdened people with religious duties, but they never practiced them.  They loved to be honored by others.  They sought prominent seats in the synagogues and feasts. They enjoyed being called Rabbi. Jesus said, “They neither enter the kingdom of God nor allow others to enter in”.  They are religious hypocrites. Jesus said, “Don’t ever let anyone address you “Rabbi”.  You are all on the same level as brothers and sisters in Christ. Don’t address anyone “Father” because only God in heaven is your spiritual Father.  There is only one Master, the Christ.  “The greatest among you shall be your servant”.  Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Godly leadership will seek to serve others. There is nothing deadlier in the church than a prideful attitude.  Self-serving attitude will ruin the church. 
 
The Danger of Hardheartedness:   
(Read Matthew 23:16-39) 
Jesus condemns the religious leaders for their hypocrisy.  Though they knew the law they neglected justice, mercy, and faith.  They hardened their hearts toward God. They were greedy and self-indulgent. Jesus said, “they are like whitewashed tombs”.  Beautiful on the outside but filled with impurity inside.  Outwardly they look upright but inwardly their hearts filled with hypocrisy. Is it not the condition of the church today?  They say, “We never would have killed the prophets”.  In saying that, they accused themselves of being the descendants of those who murdered the prophets (2 Chronicles 24:20-21).  Jesus said, “They will never escape the coming judgment”.  Jesus teaches that our devotion toward God must flow from a sincere heart. Christians should never desire the praise of others. They should find their ultimate security in God rather than in earthly riches. Someone has said “Significance in life comes only by service”.  Religious leaders turned the house of God into a den of thieves. They failed to seek the weightier matters of the law. Jesus denounced these religious leaders.  Jesus sorrowed over Jerusalem. He loved Israel and wanted to protect them like a hen gathering her chicks under her wings.  But they rejected Him.  Their Temple will be left empty and desolate. They would not see Christ until they say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Zechariah 9:9; 12:10).  This is a reference to Christ’s second coming. Is Jesus your Lord and Savior?

Matthew Chapter 22

The Parable of the Great Feast:
(Read Matthew 22: 1-14)
In this parable Jesus teaches that true believers are those who respond to the gospel.  In this parable the king refers to God the Father. He sent servants to invite people for the wedding feast of his Son.  Marriage refers to salvation.  The marriage supper may take place during the Millennial age. Today invitation is extended to all people.  Those who refuse this invitation will be judged.  The wedding feast is ready, and the servants are inviting everyone to it.  When the king came to meet the guests, he noticed a man without proper wedding dress. King asked him, “How did you get in here without wedding garments”? He was speechless. King ordered his servants to throw him into the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Jesus said, “Many are called but few are chosen”.  This parable reminds us of God’s great salvation and how people should respond to gospel.  God invites everyone to get saved. He does not want anyone to perish.  Many are attracted to the church for variety of reasons. For some it is a place to socialize with others but for others it may be a place to get rid of their guilt.  But their hearts have never been transformed.  They associate with the church for selfish reasons.  The man without wedding garment is a picture of such professing Christians. Many are called but few are chosen. Many people hear the gospel, but few believe it. Jesus warns here the danger of professing faith without true conversion.
 
Discussion about Resurrection:   
(Read Matthew 22:15-33)
Jewish leaders attempted to trap Jesus in his word by asking him to comment on two controversial issues. The first was a political issue.  Jesus was forced to choose between Roman authority and Israel.  They asked Jesus “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”  If Jesus says yes, he could be held as a traitor.  If He says no, He could be blamed by the Roman authority.  Both options could produce deadly consequences. Jesus knowing their evil motives said, “You hypocrites show me a coin”. When they handed Jesus the coin, he asked “whose inscription is stamped on it? They said, Caesar’s. Then Jesus said, “Render to Caesar what belongs to him and to God the things that are God’s”. They marveled at his reply and went away. The Sadducees attempted to discredit the teaching about resurrection by asking Jesus, whose wife will be the woman who was married to seven brothers in the resurrection?  Jesus rebuked them by saying “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scripture nor the power of God.  For in the resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like angels” (Matthew 22:29-30).  Thus, the Sadducees were silenced, and people were amazed at wisdom of Jesus.  In Jesus are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3).  The Sadducees did not believe in resurrection. In heaven there is no marriage but in perfect glorified body we will worship and fellowship with God (Revelation 19:5).  We will recognize one another in heaven by physical identity.  The disciples recognized Jesus’ glorified body by his nail print. Lazarus was recognized by the rich man (Luke 16:19-31).  Our names are written in the Book of life, and this indicates that we have identity in heaven. Yes, our God is the “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” Exodus 3:6). Pray that God would navigate you to understand these truths.
 
The Most Important Commandment: 
(Read Matthew 22:34-46)
When Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees.  A lawyer, an expert in the Law came to Jesus and asked, “Teacher which is the most important commandment in the Law of Moses”.  Jesus replied “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and the greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets”.  We love God because he first loved us (1 John 4:19).  Love motivates us to obey God’s commandment.  “With all your heart” indicates the total being of a person in Hebrew mind.  It is part of the “Shema” the Jewish confession of faith (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).   Only those who appreciate God’s grace and mercy can love others sacrificially.  Then Jesus asked the Pharisees “What they think of Christ? Whose son is he”?  They said, “The son of David”.  Jesus then called their attention to Psalm 110 and said” How is it then that David in the Spirit calls him Lord” (Psalms 110:1).  No one could answer Jesus. From that day onward none dared to ask any more question.  Hallelujah, what a Savior!  No one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3). If the religious leaders knew Christ, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory (1 Corinthians 2:8). Many know about Christ but do not know him in person. Do you know Jesus as your Lord and savior?

Matthew Chapter 21

The Triumphal Entry of Jesus: 
(Read Matthew 21:1-17)
Jesus entered Jerusalem as the long-awaited Messiah. He and his disciples came to Bethphage, a village near Bethany.  He sent two of his disciples to a village to get a donkey tied with its colt beside it.  Jesus said, “If anyone asks what you are doing, just say the Lord has need of them”.  Christ can use anyone available to him. This was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9. His riding on an ass’s colt marked the official entry of Messiah. The crowd spread their cloths and tree branches on the street to welcome their King. They shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest”.  Hosanna means “Please save”. The entire city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowd replied, “It is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee”.  After entering the city, Jesus cleansed the Temple and confronted the corrupt practices of religious leaders. Similar cleansing was done at the beginning of his ministry (John 2:13-22).  Jesus could not tolerate their gross perversion of money exchange practices in the Temple.  Jesus quoted Jeremiah 7:11 at this time.  “My Temple will be called a place of prayer, but you have turned it into a den of thieves”. He healed the sick in the temple and accepted the worship of children. When asked Jesus said, “Have not you ever read, “Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise?” (Psalms 8:2).  Many recognized Jesus as their Messiah by calling him “Son of David”.  Then Jesus returned to Bethany, where he stayed overnight with Lazarus and his sisters.  Only those who humbly admit their weakness qualify for God’s blessing.
 
Jesus Curses the Fig Tree:   
(Read Matthew 21:18-27)
Jesus saw a fig tree and found no fruit but only leaves. The fig tree was symbolism of the nation of Israel (Hosea 9:10).  The nation of Israel rejected Jesus and became like a fruitless fig tree.  Jesus cursed the tree and it withered immediately.  The disciples marveled at this.  Jesus said, “If you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more”.  Jesus taught his disciples about importance of faith in God.  We should not trust in the power of faith itself but in the God who does accomplish great things by his power.  Faith is the confident in God that he will fulfill his promises. To explain this truth Jesus used the exaggerated illustration here.   When Jesus returned to the Temple, the leaders questioned his authority for cleansing the temple. Jesus refused to answer them.  He knew the hypocrisy in their questioning. Jesus asked them about the baptism of John the Baptist, whether it is from heaven or from man.  They said, “we don’t know”. They never approved the ministry of John.  Jesus could challenge the minds of these genius religious leaders because he is God.
 
The Parable of Two Sons: 
(Read Matthew 21:28-32)
This story exposes the hypocrisy of the religious leaders. A man had two sons.  He said to the first son, “Go and work today in my vineyard”.   But his son said “I will not, but afterward regretted and went.  The first son represents the disobedient sinner who later repented.  The second son promised that he will go but did not obey.  He represents the disobedient religious leaders. True believers are those who respond to Jesus in repentance and faith.  The religious leaders failed to obey God, but tax collectors and prostitutes received Christ. Our strength to repent is the result of God’s grace and goodness (Romans 3:10). 

The Parable of the Evil Farmers. 
(Read Matthew 21:33-46)
Jesus continues to teach that his disciples are those who respond to him in repentance and faith. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard and leased it to tenants and went into another country. At the time of harvest, he sent his servants to collect his share of crop.  But the farmers beat the servants and killed them.  Finally, the owner sent his son, thinking, “Surely the farmers will respect the son”. But they said, “Here comes the heir and killed him”.  The farmers represent the religious leaders, and the servants represent the Old Testament prophets.  “Last of all he sent his son” indicates that Jesus was God’s final messenger to Israel. But they killed him.  Jesus has already foretold about his coming rejection and death.  When asked the leaders about the parable, they said God will judge the wicked farmers. Jesus said unto them “Have you never read Psalms 118:22-23. The stone the builders rejected is Jesus.  He is the true cornerstone of the church.  The other servants represent the Gentiles who respond to the gospel.  Jesus warned that the kingdom of God will be taken away from Israel and given to people who produce fruits. This prophecy was fulfilled at Pentecost. The one who falls on the stone represents one who believes in Christ.  But it falls on anyone, it will crush him. This speaks of the coming judgment upon those who reject Christ. The religious leaders understood that Jesus was speaking of them.  They wanted to kill Jesus but were afraid of the multitude because they considered Jesus a prophet. Many people are religious but are not saved.  Their hearts never been transformed by God.