The chief priests were angry (Mt 21:15-21:15)

“The chief priests

And the Scribes

Saw the amazing things

That Jesus did.

The children were crying out

In the Temple.

‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’

They became angry.”

 

ἰδόντες δὲ οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς τὰ θαυμάσια ἃ ἐποίησεν καὶ τοὺς παῖδας τοὺς κράζοντας ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ καὶ λέγοντας Ὡσαννὰ τῷ υἱῷ Δαυείδ, ἠγανάκτησαν,

 

This is unique to Matthew, who said that the chief priests and the scribes saw all the amazing and wonderful things that Jesus did (ἰδόντες δὲ οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς τὰ θαυμάσια ἃ ἐποίησεν).  The children were crying out in the Temple (καὶ τοὺς παῖδας τοὺς κράζοντας ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ).  They were saying to Jesus “Hosanna to the son of David (καὶ λέγοντας Ὡσαννὰ τῷ υἱῷ Δαυείδ)!”  These little children seem to praise Jesus and ask him to save them.  Obviously, this made the priests and scribes angry (ἠγανάκτησαν).  Matthew always pitted the Jewish leaders against Jesus since Jesus seemed to challenge their authority.

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The crowds welcome the Son of David (Mt 21:8-21:9)

“A very large crowd

Spread their garments

On the road.

Others cut branches

From the trees.

They spread them

On the road.

The crowds went ahead of him.

Others followed him.

They were shouting.

‘Hosanna!

To the Son of David!

Blessed is the one

Who comes in the name of the Lord!

Hosanna in the highest heaven!’”

 

ὁ δὲ πλεῖστος ὄχλος ἔστρωσαν ἑαυτῶν τὰ ἱμάτια ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ, ἄλλοι δὲ ἔκοπτον κλάδους ἀπὸ τῶν δένδρων καὶ ἐστρώννυον ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ.

οἱ δὲ ὄχλοι οἱ προάγοντες αὐτὸν καὶ οἱ ἀκολουθοῦντες ἔκραζον λέγοντες Ὡσαννὰ τῷ υἱῷ Δαυείδ· Εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ὀνόματι Κυρίου· Ὡσαννὰ ἐν τοῖς ὑψίστοις.

 

Both Mark, chapter 11:8-10, and Luke, chapter 19:36-38, are similar but with slight differences.  Once again, Matthew emphasized the large crowds, as he said that a very large crowd of people (ὁ δὲ πλεῖστος ὄχλος) that spread out their outer garments or coats on the road (ἔστρωσαν ἑαυτῶν τὰ ἱμάτια ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ,).  Meanwhile, others were cutting down branches from the surrounding trees (ἄλλοι δὲ ἔκοπτον κλάδους ἀπὸ τῶν δένδρων).  They also spread out these branches on the road (καὶ ἐστρώννυον ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ).  The crowds were in front of him and behind him (οἱ δὲ ὄχλοι οἱ προάγοντες αὐτὸν καὶ οἱ ἀκολουθοῦντες).  They were all shouting out (ἔκραζον λέγοντες) “Hosanna to the Son of David (Ὡσαννὰ τῷ υἱῷ Δαυείδ)!”  He was the blessed one who came in the name of the Lord (Εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ὀνόματι Κυρίου).  These hosannas should reach to the highest heaven (Ὡσαννὰ ἐν τοῖς ὑψίστοις).  Hosanna was a Hebrew term of praise asking God to save them.  This saying came from the Hallel chants that was used in the Passover celebration, based on Psalm 118:26.  Later it became part of the Roman Catholic “Sanctus” chant in the Eucharistic celebration.  This event has become the great Palm Sunday celebration, the triumphant entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem.  Actually only John, chapter 12:13, called these palm branches.  This idea of laying garments on the road can be found in 2 Kings, chapter 9:13, to protect the feet of the king.  Clearly, this was an attempt to connect Jesus with the Davidic kingship.  Was Jesus to be the new king of Israel as a son of David?

Fasting (Mt 6:16-6:16)

“When you fast,

Do not look gloomy,

Like the hypocrites!

They disfigure

Their faces

So as to show others

That they are fasting.

Truly,

I say to you!

‘They have received

Their reward.’”

 

Ὅταν δὲ νηστεύητε, μὴ γίνεσθε ὡς οἱ ὑποκριταὶ σκυθρωποί· ἀφανίζουσιν γὰρ τὰ πρόσωπα αὐτῶν ὅπως φανῶσιν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις νηστεύοντες· ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀπέχουσιν τὸν μισθὸν αὐτῶν.

 

Once again, this saying of Jesus is unique to Matthew.  The phraseology and content are similar to the earlier comments on almsgiving.  When you fast (Ὅταν δὲ νηστεύητε), you should not be like the hypocrites (ὡς οἱ ὑποκριταὶ).  The Greek word “οἱ ὑποκριταὶ” originally meant actors or someone who sought praise, while acting deceitfully.  According to Matthew, these hypocrites were usually the enemies of Jesus.  In this case they looked sad, dismal or gloomy (σκυθρωποί) since they were deliberately disfiguring their faces (ἀφανίζουσιν γὰρ τὰ πρόσωπα αὐτῶν).  Thus, other people could see that they were fasting (ὅπως φανῶσιν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις νηστεύοντες).  Some pious Jews would fast twice a week.  Jesus also fasted for 40 days, so his followers could fast also.  As usual, Matthew has Jesus give a solemn saying (ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν) concluding that these men who sought human approval have already received their reward here on earth (ἀπέχουσιν τὸν μισθὸν αὐτῶν).

Public prayer (Mt 6:5-6:5)

“When you pray,

Do not be

Like the hypocrites!

They love to stand.

They pray

In the synagogues,

And at the street corners.

Thus,

They may be seen

By other men.

Truly,

I say to you,

They have received

Their reward.”

 

Καὶ ὅταν προσεύχησθε, οὐκ ἔσεσθε ὡς οἱ ὑποκριταί· ὅτι φιλοῦσιν ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς καὶ ἐν ταῖς γωνίαις τῶν πλατειῶν ἑστῶτες προσεύχεσθαι, ὅπως φανῶσιν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις· ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀπέχουσιν τὸν μισθὸν αὐτῶν.

 

This is another saying of Jesus, only found in Matthew, that carries on with the theme of the hypocrites.  However, this time it is about prayer.  When the followers of Jesus went to pray (Καὶ ὅταν προσεύχησθε), they should not be like the hypocrites (οὐκ ἔσεσθε ὡς οἱ ὑποκριταί) who love to stand praying in the synagogues and the street corners (ὅτι φιλοῦσιν ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς καὶ ἐν ταῖς γωνίαις τῶν πλατειῶν ἑστῶτες προσεύχεσθαι).  Just as they had done with their almsgiving, these hypocrites wanted to be seen by other men (ὅπως φανῶσιν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις).  Certainly, there was the common times for prayer of the faithful Jews.  The Greek word for hypocrites “οἱ ὑποκριταὶ” originally meant actors or someone who sought praise, while acting deceitfully.  According to Matthew, these hypocrites were usually the enemies of Jesus.  Just as about almsgiving, Matthew has Jesus give a solemn saying (ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν) concluding that these men who sought human appeal have already received their reward (ἀπέχουσιν τὸν μισθὸν αὐτῶν).  Is this a repudiation of public prayer?

Almsgiving (Mt 6:2-6:2)

“Thus,

Whenever you give alms,

Do not sound a trumpet

Before you,

As the hypocrites do

In the synagogues

And in the streets.

Thus,

They may be praised

By other men.

Truly,

I say to you!

‘They have received

Their reward.’”

 

Ὅταν οὖν ποιῇς ἐλεημοσύνην, μὴ σαλπίσῃς ἔμπροσθέν σου, ὥσπερ οἱ ὑποκριταὶ ποιοῦσιν ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς καὶ ἐν ταῖς ῥύμαις, ὅπως δοξασθῶσιν ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων· ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀπέχουσιν τὸν μισθὸν αὐτῶν.

 

This is another saying of Jesus, only found in Matthew, that carries on with the same theme of not showing off your good righteous actions.  The followers of Jesus were not to give charity or alms (Ὅταν οὖν ποιῇς ἐλεημοσύνην) with a trumpet blast leading them (μὴ σαλπίσῃς ἔμπροσθέν σου).  Apparently, the hypocrites were doing this in the streets and in the synagogues (οἱ ὑποκριταὶ ποιοῦσιν ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς καὶ ἐν ταῖς ῥύμαις).  Actually, there is no indication that any Jewish or Christian person ever did this, but certainly there was a strong emphasis on giving charity in late Second Temple Judaism.  This Greek word for hypocrites “οἱ ὑποκριταὶ” originally meant actors or someone who sought praise, while acting deceitfully.  According to Matthew, these hypocrites were usually the enemies of Jesus.  They wanted glory and praise from other men (ὅπως δοξασθῶσιν ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων·) for their good works.  However, Matthew has Jesus give a solemn saying (ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν) concluding that these men who sought human appeal have already received their reward (ἀπέχουσιν τὸν μισθὸν αὐτῶν).  Charitable giving should be done quietly without any fanfare.

Righteousness (Mt 5:20-5:20)

“I tell you!

Unless your righteousness

Exceeds that of the scribes,

As well as the Pharisees,

You will never enter

The kingdom of heaven.”

 

λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν ὅτι ἐὰν μὴ περισσεύσῃ ὑμῶν ἡ δικαιοσύνη πλεῖον τῶν γραμματέων καὶ Φαρισαίων, οὐ μὴ εἰσέλθητε εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν.

 

Matthew showed the importance of righteousness (ἡ δικαιοσύνη). Once again, this is an important saying of Jesus with “I tell you (λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν)!” Interesting enough, he seemed to praise the righteousness of the Scribes and the Pharisees (ἡ δικαιοσύνη πλεῖον τῶν γραμματέων καὶ Φαρισαίων). However, unless the righteousness of his followers exceeded (ὑμῶν ἡ δικαιοσύνη πλεῖον) the righteousness of these Pharisees and Scribes, they would not receive the reward, entrance into the kingdom of heaven (οὐ μὴ εἰσέλθητε εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν). This righteousness (ἡ δικαιοσύνη) was the acceptance and doing of God’s commandments.

Prayer

A Christian is not without contact with God.  Prayer in its various forms is the normal contact with the transcendent reality, whatever name we place on it.  The ceremony of all religions is the point of contact with the divine.  Prayer can and should be both personal and public.  Thus, the Christian never forgets the admonition to pray always.  He or she remembers the great prayer that Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven.”  The importance of prayer is like good communication.  Take time to pray.  Develop a personal prayer life.  Faith without prayer is impossible.  Request, give honor, praise, thank, listen, and share verbal and non-verbal prayer.  Prayer is the breath of the Christian spiritual life.  If we stop praying, it is like as if we stop breathing.  Your spiritual life will die without prayer.