Matthew 21

Read Matthew 21.

Wouldn’t it be nice if your car or truck could just give birth? Instead of buying a new one, you could just breed the one you have and instantly have a new vehicle, a new way to move stuff around.

That is one advantage that animals have over machines.

Here in Matthew 21:2, Jesus commands the disciples to go find a donkey and her colt. The colt, we know from Luke, has never been ridden. It still has that “new colt smell.” The family who owned these animals must have been pleased to have this new one. Maybe they had a teenager who was looking forward to riding the old one around without having to share it with mom and dad.

Or, maybe I just injected my own story into the biblical narrative a bit.

Anyway, along came the disciples of Jesus. They saw the colt and donkey tied up, just as Jesus said (cf. vv. 2, 6) so they untied them, just as Jesus commanded them to do (cf. vv. 2, 6).

This was not a case of “Grand Theft Animal,” however. In Jesus’s world, it was acceptable for a rabbi or someone else with authority to borrow resources from other people. Usually, though, a person would ask before borrowing someone else’s property. Jesus did not tell the disciples to ask. He told them to “Untie them and bring them to me” (v. 2e).

When the owner inevitably asked the disciples what they were doing (Lu 19:33-34), Jesus had already instructed them not to ask but to tell the owner, “…the Lord needs them” (v. 3b). Some owners might have said, “Well, then, shouldn’t the Lord ask to borrow them?” But that was not the response in this case. Instead, Jesus said the owner would “send them right away” (v. 3c).

This was an act of lordship. Jesus Christ commanded his disciples to commandeer the colt so that he could use it to fulfill God’s word (vv. 4-5). We believe in and the Bible teaches the right of private ownership of property. The stuff you own is yours. You have the right to use it or lend it or do whatever you want with it.

But God is the ultimate owner of everything and that means he owns what you own. Your home, your car, your money, and any other resources you have ultimately belong to him. As followers of Jesus Christ, you and I should want the Lord to take what we have if he’s going to use it for his kingdom and glory.

It is unlikely that the Lord or one of his disciples will show up and take your car. But, think about this passage in terms of Matthew 25:31-46. I’ll quote a few verses of it right here:

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Matthew 25:37-40

Lending or using your resources to help or refresh the Lord’s servants is an act of service to the Lord himself. It is as if Christ himself came to take your colt and you willingly, gladly handed it over when you help one of God’s people. And, when you and I volunteer to help someone and generously lend or use what you have without expecting any return, you will be blessed by the Father (Matt 25:34).

How is the state of your heart when it comes to generosity? If you have a chance to help someone today, even if it is inconvenient or costly, think about this passage. The Lord has the right to take and use our stuff so let’s look for ways to be useful for him to anyone who has a need we can meet.

Matthew 21

Today’s reading is from Matthew 21.

Matthew 21 is a lengthy chapter that began detailing the week of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. This chapter describes the authority and worthiness of Christ to be king. It began with Palm Sunday where Jesus was praised and welcomed by the people as he ceremonially entered Jerusalem (vv. 1-11). The crowds called him “the prophet from Nazareth,” but in verses 12-13 Jesus demonstrated a greater authority than any prophet. Instead of inveighing (look it up) against the commercialization of worship at the temple as we would expect a prophet to do, Jesus started driving out the merchants and throwing out their stuff. This is what the owner of the temple would do, not a mere prophet.

He also demonstrated his healing power in the temple (v. 14) and received praise there (vv. 15-17), just as God would. This infuriated the temple’s leaders, but brought joy to the heart of God.

In verses 18-22 Jesus demonstrated his kingly authority over nature. His lesson on prayer in verse 22 is not about rearranging the topography of the earth; rather, his point was to teach the disciples that his power was available for them as they went out to advance his kingdom.

Ever the teacher, Jesus used these early days of holy week to deliver God’s word in the temple (v. 23a) but the religious leaders of the temple questioned his authority to do all the things he was doing in verse 23b. Jesus stumped them with a riddle (vv. 24-27), then taught them a lesson about who really pleased God (vv. 28-32). Finally, he foreshadowed his own death with another parable (vv. 33-42) and proclaimed judgment on those who considered themselves to be godly, religious men. Instead of receiving the kingdom that they claimed to be seeking, they would be rejected and the kingdom would be passed on “to a people who will produce its fruit” (v. 43b). This is a reference to believing Jews, of which there were many in the dawning days of the church but it also refers to believing Gentiles, including you and me. The phrase, “those who will produce its fruit” reminds us that kingdom productivity is God’s goal in saving us. Of course God, in love, wanted to redeem us from God’s wrath, but he wanted to do so much more than that. Christ’s mission was to produce people who were redeemed by Christ and were producing the fruit of the Spirit in us and the fruit of evangelism through us. As we start a new workweek today and go out into the world, remember that the world where we work is God’s field. He is sending us out there not just to be productive for our employer but to be productive for his kingdom. Let’s look for some ways to have kingdom conversations this week. Our king deserves it, his chosen ones need it, and we were redeemed for it!