Matthew 21–23

“Matthew 21–23,” New Testament Teacher Resource Manual (2002), 48–49


Events in these chapters likely occurred within this period

First year of the Lord’s ministry

Second year

Third year

The Life of Jesus Christ

Christ’s birth

First Passover

Second Passover

Third Passover

Final Passover and last week


Matthew 21–23begins the last week of the Savior’s mortal life. (For a detailed harmony of these events, see “The Last Week of the Savior’s Life” in the appendix, p. 288.) For three years the Savior had taught, healed, encouraged, and shown such love that multitudes followed Him. At His triumphal entry and later in the temple, the people acknowledged Jesus as the promised Messiah (see Matthew 20:9, 15). This infuriated the Jewish leaders, who sought all the more to take away His life. After cleansing the temple, Jesus spent much time teaching the people there.

Prayerfully study Matthew 21–23and consider the following principles before preparing your lessons.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Additional Resources

  • The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, 143–49.

  • “The Last Week of the Savior’s Life,” 288 in this manual.

Suggestions for Teaching

Choose from the following ideas, or use some of your own, as you prepare lessons for Matthew 21–23.

video iconNew Testament Video presentation 7, “Justice and Mercy” (6:28), can be used in teaching Matthew 21(see New Testament Video Guide for teaching suggestions).

Matthew 21:1–11(see also Mark 11:1–11; Luke 19:29–40; John 12:12–19). When we view Jesus Christ in His true majesty and greatness, we can better understand the importance of praising Him as our Savior and Redeemer.

(15–20 minutes)

Ask students to imagine that an admired and respected leader of their country walked into the room.

  • What would you think?

  • How would you feel?

  • How would you act?

  • What would you say?

Have them imagine the prophet walked into the room and answer the same questions. Now have them imagine that Jesus Christ walked into the room and answer the questions.

  • How would your responses to the three people differ?

  • Why would they differ?

Explain that today you will read about a people’s reaction to a visit from Jesus Christ.

Invite students to read Matthew 21:1–11and list what the people did to praise Jesus as He entered Jerusalem. Read the following scriptures and list reasons why we should praise Jesus Christ:


  • How can we praise Jesus even when He is not here physically? (Possible answers include singing hymns about Him, keeping our covenants to always remember Him, thanking Heavenly Father for Him, expressing gratitude for the Atonement when we pray.)

  • Read 2 Nephi 2:10. According to this verse, what will we all experience someday?

Ask students to silently consider the following questions:

  • Will that be a happy or a sad day for you?

  • What will you think, say, and do, when that day comes for you?

Matthew 21:12–16(see also Mark 11:15–19; Luke 19:45–48). Jesus holds us accountable for our wrongdoing.

(5–10 minutes)

Invite students to read Matthew 21:12–16and answer the following questions:

  • What was happening in the temple?

  • What did Jesus do to change the situation?

  • Why was this not easy for one person to do?

  • Who was not pleased over what Jesus did?

  • How can this experience apply to us today?

Read Doctrine and Covenants 97:15–16and ask:

  • What do you feel a person must do in order to have a pure heart?

  • What makes it difficult to keep ourselves this way all the time?

  • What do we have that can help us keep worthy of the blessings available in the temple?

Matthew 21:18–22:46(see also Mark 11:12–12:34; Luke 20:1–40). Jesus taught many important doctrines prior to His death.

(45–50 minutes)

Invite students to pretend they found out they were going to die in one week. Ask the following questions:

  • What would you do the last week of your life?

  • Who would you spend your time with?

  • What would you tell your family?

  • How would you want people to remember you?

  • How would you prepare to meet your Heavenly Father?

Explain that this was the situation for Jesus in Matthew 21–22. He knew He would die in a few days and only had a short time left to teach. Jesus taught many important doctrines during these days before His death.

Divide the class into nine groups and assign each a block of scripture from the accompanying chart. (If you have fewer groups than nine, give some of the groups more than one block.) Allow students five to ten minutes to study their blocks and prepare to do the following:

  • Identify the principles of the gospel that Jesus emphasized in the scripture block. (Note: The chart includes only a few of the principles found in these scriptures. The students may find many more.)

  • Read or summarize the verses in the block that would be helpful in understanding the principles.

  • Explain how these principles apply to us today.

Scripture Block

Jesus’ Teaching


Matthew 21:18–22

All things are possible to those who ask God with faith.


Matthew 21:23–27

Jesus and John the Baptist acted with God’s authority.


Matthew 21:28–32

Through repentance we can serve our Heavenly Father.


Matthew 21:33–46

Those who reject the prophets and Jesus Christ will be destroyed.


Matthew 22:1–14

The Lord will accept those who follow Him willingly and correctly.


Matthew 22:15–22

We should serve God and obey the law of the land.


Matthew 22:23–33

The Resurrection is real. Those who aren’t sealed won’t be married in the Resurrection (see also D&C 132:15–16).


Matthew 22:34–40

The great commandment is to love God. The second great commandment is to love others.


Matthew 22:41–46

Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Have each group report its findings. Encourage students to apply these principles in their lives.

Matthew 23:2–28(see also Mark 12:38–40; Luke 20:45–47). If we do not live up to the gospel standards we profess, we can influence others negatively.

(10–15 minutes)

Bring three nontransparent cups to class. Smear grease and dirt on the outside of the first cup and on the inside of the second, and leave the third cup clean. Show the class the cups (they should be able to see the outside only). Ask: Which of the three cups would you not want to drink from? Invite a student to come to the front of the class and look inside the cups. Ask this student to identify which of the three cups she or he would rather not drink from.

  • Which is the only safe cup to drink from?

  • In what ways are people like these cups?

Read Matthew 23:2–4, 15, 23–28and ask:

  • What two groups did Jesus warn the people about? (see v. 2).

  • What were they doing that Jesus condemned? (List answers on the board if desired.)

  • What did Jesus call those who did these kinds of things? (see v. 23).

  • Which of the cups in the object lesson were they most like? (see v. 25).

  • These scriptures teach about one kind of hypocrisy. What might be another kind?

Share the following statement from President N. Eldon Tanner, a member of the First Presidency:

“Harry Emerson Fosdick observed that there are two kinds of hypocrisy: when we try to appear better than we are, and when we let ourselves appear worse than we are. We have been speaking of the kind of hypocrisy where people pretend to be more or better than they are. Too often, however, we see members of the Church who in their hearts know and believe, but through fear of public opinion fail to stand up and be counted. This kind of hypocrisy is as serious as the other” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1970, 52–53).

Read Matthew 23:15 and Alma 39:3, 11 and look for the effect hypocrites can have on others. Read Matthew 23:8–12 and look for the counsel Jesus gave that can help us avoid hypocrisy.