The Kingdom Taken Away

The apostle John began his gospel on an ominous note for in the first chapter he writes of Jesus, “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” (1:11). “His own,” of course, was His own people, the nation of Israel (cp. Mat 15:24). They did not believe in Him as their Messiah-King. Though some did believe in Him (John 1:12), the nation of Israel followed their religious leaders in rejecting, condemning, and crucifying their King.
In the gospel of Matthew which we are presently studying, we have noted the increasing opposition of Israel’s leaders to Jesus (9:3, 10:34, 11:14) as well as Jesus’ rebuke of whole cities in Israel for failing to repent and believe in Him (11:20-24, 12:58). As the opposition and unbelief intensified, Jesus began to predict His death and resurrection (16:21, 17:22-23, 20:17-19). Jesus approached Jerusalem for the last time on that first Palm Sunday with such promise or so it seemed. But shouts of “Hosanna to the Son of David!” would be drowned out and replaced by the cries of the unbelieving majority, “Crucify Him!” “Crucify Him!”
The major theme of Jesus’ last week was Israel’s rejection of Him and His condemnation of Israel. He foreshadowed the judgment to come upon Israel with the cleansing of the temple and the cursing of the fig tree. He also signaled that judgment in three parables. In the second one (21:33-46), He once again predicts His death at the hands of the people of Israel led by the chief priests and Pharisees. The destruction of Jerusalem which took place in 70 A.D. is once again inferred by the very ones who opposed Him. Because Israel rejected their King, the King would take the kingdom from them, and give it to another nation. This nation bearing the fruits of the kingdom of God is probably a reference to the church which is made up of Jews who believe and believing Gentiles. Peter refers to the church as a nation in 1Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”