In December 2020, we began our study of Christ's life in the Gospel of Matthew, dividing the entire book into nine mini-series. The entire Gospel is about the King and His Kingdom. Chapters 1-2 begin with the declaration that this King is God with us (1:23). In Chapters 3-9, Jesus preaches The Gospel of the Kingdom (4:23; 9:25), calling sinners to Himself through repentance and faith. In Chapters 10-12, the King charges and sends His disciples on The Mission of the Kingdom to declare the Good News to Israel. However, having been rejected by the Jewish leaders (12:30-32), the King focuses His attention on the Twelve, revealing to them The Mysteries of the Kingdom (Chapter 13). In chapters 14-17, The Opposition of the Kingdom is widely experienced by Jesus, which prompts Him to continually withdraw to remote places and speak openly about His impending death and resurrection (16:21; 17:12, 22-23). Finally, in chapters 18-20, Jesus begins to prepare His disciples for His absence, focusing on The Right-Side-Up Kingdom, reminding them of the values and priorities that characterize all who enter His kingdom and join the community of the saints, the church.
This Sunday, we'll return to the Gospel, beginning a new series called The Reclamation of the Kingdom (Chapters 18-20). Matthew 21 marks the entrance into the last week of Jesus' life, which stretches all the way to Matthew 28. There's a disproportionately large amount of information in this Gospel (as well as the other three) about the last week of Jesus' life when compared to the first 33 years of His life. As Jesus enters Jerusalem, He is publicly presented as a humble King who has returned to reclaim His kingdom. He challenges the stewards of the kingdom (Jewish religious authorities) with perversion (21:13), fruitlessness (21:18-19), and faithlessness (21:28-32); He predicts Israel's future rejection and judgment (21:33-22:14); He indicts them for hypocrisy and apostasy (21:32). Because of their failure, the King announces that "the kingdom of God will be taken away from [them] and given to a people producing the fruit of it" (21:43).
All this happens to provoke people to consider the person and work of Jesus (21:10). Who is this? What did He come to do? Our goal as we go through these chapters is to behold Jesus as the Lamb of God who enters Jerusalem to be slain, and having believed His claims, bow down and worship Jesus as the true King of Kings.