Because of the flow of context, it is not clear whether the first passage of this unit (21:17-22) belongs in this section or the preceding one, if Matthew himself would have made such a distinction. The rest of the passages in this section, however, reveal a common theme: Jesus offers his closing public debates with Jerusalem's elite, debates that increase his populist support and further threaten their base of power. Because he is headed for the cross, he can afford to cut through their self-delusions unapologetically. Because he cares about the people as a whole (20:28), he is especially angry with those who claim to lead God's people but in fact have usurped prerogatives that belong to God alone (21:33-45). Christian leaders must beware lest we fall prey to the same temptation (24:48-51).
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