January 9, 2022 – Matthew 21

Lesson Date: January 9, 2022

Focal Scripture Passage: Matthew 21:1-16, 23-27, 37-46

AIM: To lead students to discover ways Jesus was welcomed by the people and later by the Jewish religious leaders, and to examine their hearts to see if they have ever truly welcomed Jesus in.


Before class: Read the notes on Matthew 21 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book.  Locate a welcome mat or some sort of welcome plaque or sign that you can bring to class.  If you do not have one, bring a picture of one (such pictures can be found in catalogues or on the Internet).  Write the word “Welcome” on the marker board or chalkboard.  Enlist some volunteers to look up the following verses and be prepared to read them when called upon: Zechariah 9:9; Psalm 118:26; Isaiah 56:7; Jeremiah 7:11; Psalm 8:2; Psalm 118:22-23; Isaiah 8:14-15.


INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Welcome everyone to class.  Greet them warmly and tell them you are glad they are there.  Show the welcome mat or picture to the class.  Tell them many people place a welcome mat or welcome plaque at their front door.  Ask the students to name ways a host can make his or her guests feel welcome.  After a few answers are given, ask: “Have you ever been somewhere that you felt unwelcome?”  Stress the fact that it is unpleasant and uncomfortable to be unwelcome or unwanted.

Ask them to imagine they have been invited to a friend’s house for dinner.  When they arrive, they are greeted in the driveway and escorted up the walkway to the front door.  When they enter the house, they are met with a loud shout of “Welcome!” and a round of applause.  The host then praises them and thanks them for coming.

Soon, however, things change dramatically.  Someone asks, “What are you doing here?  Who invited you?  What right do you have to come into our house and eat our food?  You should leave right now!”  Tell the students it would be very strange to be welcomed as an honored guest one moment, but then questioned, insulted, and thrown out a short while later.  Ask: “How would that make you feel?”

Tell the class that is similar to what happened when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem.  The title of today’s lesson is Welcome! … Or Maybe Not!  We will learn about Jesus’ welcome and rejection as we study Matthew 21.



  1. Review.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (humility and serving others).
    • Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verse (Matt. 20:28).
  2. The People Welcomed Jesus as Messiah.
    • Read Matthew 21:1-7.
    • Explain the following:
    • Ask: “According to verses 4-5, why did Jesus do this?” (to fulfill scripture).
    • Ask the previously enlisted volunteer to read Zechariah 9:9.
    • Read Matthew 21:8-11.
    • Ask: “How would you describe the welcome Jesus received?” (the people welcomed Him like a king).
    • Explain the following:
      • “Son of David” was a messianic title.
      • The crowd also quoted from a messianic psalm in welcoming Jesus.
      • Ask the previously enlisted volunteer to read Psalm 118:26.
    • Summarize: The people of Jerusalem welcomed Jesus as their Messiah, quoting a messianic prophecy and calling Him by a messianic title.
  3. Jesus Cleansed the Temple.
    • Read Matthew 21:12-16.
    • Explain the following:
      • When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem He went into the Temple of God.
      • The Temple consisted of the actual Temple building and altar where sacrifices were offered, as well as a large complex of courts, plazas, and even shops.
      • Jewish pilgrims who traveled from distant places were required to bring lambs for the Passover offerings and money to pay their annual Temple tax.
      • Merchants brought sacrificial animals to sell to the pilgrims. They often sold inferior animals at inflated prices.
      • Money changers charged high fees to exchange the various forms of money the people brought into the proper coins for the Temple tax.
    • Ask: “What did Jesus do to these merchants and money changers?” (threw them out of the Temple).
    • Ask: “Why did He do this?” (because they corrupted God’s Temple with their dishonest dealings).
    • Tell the students Jesus quoted scripture as the basis for His actions.
    • Ask the previously enlisted volunteers to read Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11.
    • Explain the following:
      • Jesus healed people in the Temple.
      • Children hailed Jesus as the Messiah.
      • The chief priests and scribes were upset by this and told Jesus to make them stop.
      • Jesus quoted scripture to answer the chief priests and scribes.
      • Ask the previously enlisted volunteer to read Psalm 8:2.
    • Summarize: Jesus threw the dishonest merchants and money changers out of the Temple. This made the Jewish religious leaders very mad.
  4. The Chief Priests and Elders Challenged Jesus’ Authority.
    • Explain the following:
      • Jesus left the Temple and stayed overnight in Bethany (v. 17).
      • The next morning He returned to the Temple (v. 18, 23).
    • Read Matthew 21:23-27.
    • Ask: “What did the chief priests and elders ask Jesus?” (what authority did He have to disrupt the Temple activities the way He did the day before, and who gave Him that authority).
    • Ask: “How did He answer them?” (by asking them if John’s baptism was from God or from men).
    • Ask: “How did they answer Jesus’ question?” (they said they did not know).
    • Ask: “Why did they say that?” (like skilled politicians, they realized either answer would get them in trouble, so they refused to answer).
    • Ask: “How did Jesus respond to their non-answer?” (He refused to answer their question).
    • Summarize: The chief priests and elders of the people challenged Jesus’ authority, but revealed their spiritual corruption by refusing to answer Jesus’ question.
  5. Jesus Told Parables to Expose and Rebuke the Jewish Leaders.
    • Tell the class that Jesus told two parables illustrating the spiritual condition of the Jewish religious leaders.
    • Explain the first parable (v. 28-32):
      • The first parable was about a man who told his two sons to go work in the vineyard.
      • The first son refused, but later repented and did the work.
      • The second son said he would go, but never did.
      • Jesus compared the publicans and harlots to the first son.
      • He said the religious leaders were like the second son: they said they would obey God but never did.
    • Explain the second parable (v. 33-41):
      • The second parable was about a landowner who built a vineyard and leased it out to husbandmen (tenant farmers).
      • When harvest time came, the landowner sent servants to collect the rent.
      • The tenant farmers killed the servant.
      • The landowner sent more servants, but the same thing happened each time.
    • Read Matthew 21:37-41.
    • Ask: “Who did the landowner send last?” (his son).
    • Ask: “What did the tenant farmers do to him?” (killed him, hoping to claim the land as their own).
    • Tell the class that Jesus asked the Jewish religious leaders what the landowner should do to the wicked tenant farmers.
    • Ask: “How did they answer?” (they said he should kill the tenant farmers and lease the vineyard to others who would pay him what was due).
    • Read Matthew 21:42-44.
    • Ask the previously enlisted volunteer to read Psalm 118:22-23.
    • Ask: “What did Jesus say to the Jewish religious leaders in verse 43?” (God was going to take His kingdom away from them and give it to people who would bring forth the fruits of the kingdom: the Gentiles).
    • Ask the previously enlisted volunteer to read Isaiah 8:14-15.
    • Read Matthew 21:45-46.
    • Ask: “What did the chief priests and Pharisees realize when they heard these parables?” (that Jesus was talking about them).
    • Tell the students the chief priests and Pharisees wanted to arrest Jesus but could not.
    • Ask: “Why couldn’t they arrest Him?” (because they feared the people, who believed Jesus was a great prophet).
    • Summarize: Jesus told two parables that exposed the disobedience and wickedness of the Jewish religious leaders. They wanted to arrest Jesus but could not.


PERSONAL APPLICATION: Direct everyone’s attention to the word “Welcome” written on the board and to the welcome mat or picture you have brought to class.  Tell them in this lesson they have seen how two groups of people welcomed Jesus.  Ask: “How did the people of Jerusalem welcome Jesus?” (they welcomed Him as the Messiah).  Ask: “How did the Jewish religious leaders welcome Jesus?” (they didn’t; they rejected Him, questioned His authority, and wanted to arrest Him).

Tell the students in this lesson some people welcomed Jesus as the Messiah (Savior), while others rejected Him.  Tell them that is still the way it is in the world today: some people welcome Jesus into their hearts as their personal Savior, while others reject Him.

Ask: “Have you ever truly welcomed Jesus into your heart as your Savior and Lord?”  Tell them they can do so right now.

Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes.  Ask them to silently and privately examine themselves to see if they have ever truly welcomed Jesus into their hearts.  Encourage any who have not to do so right now.  Voice a closing prayer of confession, welcome, and commitment.


CONCLUSION: Tell the students if any of them have welcomed Jesus into their hearts as Savior this morning they should make that public today.  Encourage them to speak to you after class and to come forward during the invitation at the end of this morning’s worship service.

Tell the students that in addition to welcoming Jesus into our hearts in salvation, we should welcome Him into all our day-to-day activities.  Encourage them to do that this week.

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