Summary: Portraits of Jesus as painted by the gospel writers

Portraits of Jesus

Matthew 21

I. Jesus as King (21:1-11)

a. What does this portrait of Jesus reveal to you about Him?

i. His courage – Jesus is coming into a city that boiling and seething with hatred. The Jewish leaders despise Jesus and are attempting to have him killed. The Romans are indifferent to him, but are cautious of this man who says he is King of the Jews. Interestingly, Jesus does not come into the holy city covertly, as he has done before. This time he literally stops traffic. Jerusalem is packed with people from all over the world to celebrate Passover. Some scholars estimate 2 million or more fill the city during Passover week. In front of this massive crowd of people Jesus rides into town on a colt, flanked by his disciples, people laying their robes in front of him, others laying palm branches down before him. The crowd is shouting, “Hosanna, to the son of David. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Jesus is determined. His time has come.

ii. His claim – Jesus, riding on a colt, the foal of a donkey, with people crying Hosanna to the son of David, all reveal the truth of his claim to be the Messiah, the Anointed One. Jesus wants to be recognized as the King that He is. Not a king of a physical kingdom, but a spiritual kingdom; not of a throne, but of the heart.

b. Within this portrait you also see other people. What does this portrait reveal to you about the people?

i. Their worship – They revere Him as king. With their actions and their mouths they are proclaiming him to be their King.

ii. Their ignorance – Although they acknowledge Him as their King, their words reveal their ignorance. When people asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answer in v. 21 and say, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

iii. How easy it is to worship Him with our lips and even with our actions, and yet not truly recognize Him for who he really is: King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

If it took courage to come into the city, imagine the courage it must have took to enter the temple. Not when it’s empty, but on the busiest time of the year. Jesus is attempting to draw a very clear line of separation between Himself and the religious leaders.

· His God is not their god.

· His ways are not their ways.

· His righteousness is not their righteousness.

II. In this portrait we see Jesus as the Defender. (v. 12-17)

a. We see here the great differences between Jesus and the religionists. First, in their different views of the temple.

i. Their view – “our” temple, under “our” control, “our” money – used for exploitation.

ii. Jesus’ view – “My” house, a “house of prayer,” “for all nations”

b. Different views of the people

i. Their view – hindrances (blind and lame), nuisances (children)

ii. Jesus’ view – (of blind and lame) in need of healing and need is never sent away empty handed by Jesus. (of children) ordained of God for the purpose of praise. (story of Michaela).

We must never allow our religion to lose it’s purpose in fulfilling the heart of Christ. His purposes must become our purposes, his heart’s desire must become our heart’s desire, his love must become our love. Jesus was a defender of the people.

To make the line between Jesus and the religionists even more defined, Jesus reaches out to us with a surprising object lesson.

III. This last portrait is one that we have often overlooked. We have seen something in this portrait that we didn’t understand. Sometimes we can misinterpret a person’s look, or action, to mean something that it was never intended to mean. In this portrait we see Jesus as the Provider. (v. 18-22)

a. The Story

b. The confusion – Why would Jesus curse a fig tree, for not having figs, when it’s not even the season for figs, just because he’s hungry? That sounds selfish, and that’s what bothers us about this portrait. It just doesn’t mesh with our preconceived image of Jesus. Again, sometimes an action or a look doesn’t always mean what we think that it means. Why did Jesus curse the fig tree?

c. Two reasons

i. As an object lesson to teach that profession without practice invites judgment. The tree had leaves; leaves meant figs; there were no figs; therefore, the trees claim to have figs was false. Many people profess to follow Christ, but the practice of their lives does not match their profession. Jesus told us, “By their fruits you will recognize them.” Matt. 7:20

ii. Notice the disciples question: “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” Our question would have been, “Why? Why did you do that?” In this teachable moment Jesus says, (read v. 21-22). In other words, “I am going to provide you with the same power that I have.” Jesus the King, Jesus the Defender, says to us, “You can do what I have done.” Jesus the Provider says, “You ask whatever you will, and I will provide.”

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