November 6, 2022 Knowing God's Words and Being Bold

Knowing God’s Words and Being Bold

November 6, 2022



Read Matthew 21:1-17.


Beginning here at chapter 21 and through to the end of the book, Matthew chronicles the last week of the life of our Lord. Whereas the first twenty chapters cover about three and a half years, the last eight cover only one week, the Passover week.


How did Jesus know that there would be a donkey and a colt at a certain house and that the owner would allow them to be taken? Although Matthew does not record the visits of Jesus to Jerusalem and surrounding area prior to this final one, John records several visits by Jesus. Jesus had close friends with whom he stayed in Bethany. Bethany and Bethphage were in close proximity to each other (Luke 19:29), just outside of Jerusalem near the Mount of Olives. Also, donkeys were expensive in that day. It took about a year’s (average) wages to purchase one. A stranger would hardly give his donkeys to people he doesn’t know. Thus, Jesus likely arranged for the animals to be used, from a friend in Bethphage, on a previous visit. Finally, the disciples were to say certain words (“The Lord needs them.”).  France identifies these words as a pre-arranged password.[1]


As he nears the city gates, our Lord is welcomed by a crowd that even spreads their garments on the road. This is the same crowd that has been travelling with him since Jericho (20:29). They are going to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, as all faithful Jews were instructed to do. They were mostly Galileans, since that is where Jesus carried on his ministry.[2] The Jerusalem crowd will reject him (27:15-25) as the Jewish leaders already had. As soon as he enters Jerusalem, the inhabitants do not know who he is:


And when He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, “Who is this?”[3]


The Galilean crowd that accompanied him had to tell them who he was. This is now our calling. We are like Galileans. Many do not know who Jesus is. They may think that he is just a prophet or just a teacher that was exalted by his followers. We must tell them that he is the eternal Son of God and their only hope of salvation from the lake of fire.


As Jesus is approaching the city on a donkey, Matthew ascribes this as a fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9.  This is a messianic passage.  Verse 10 makes this clear:


And He will speak peace to the nations;

And His dominion will be from sea to sea,

And from the River to the ends of the earth.[4]


Thus, Matthew again shows that Jesus is the promised Messiah.


And the crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were crying out, saying

“Hosanna to the Son of David;

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;

Hosanna in the highest!”[5]


Hosanna is the Greek transliteration of the Aramaic (which is nearly the same as the Hebrew), meaning “Save us now.” The word began as a prayer but then became a word of praise. “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD” is a quote from Psalm 118:26. The latter portion of 118 (verses 22 through 29) is also messianic. But this time it is the crowd who is quoting it, not Matthew. They recognized Jesus as the Messiah! Isn’t this interesting? The Jewish crowd from Galilee could quote Scripture!


How is it that they could quote it? Why were they able to do that? Obviously, they had memorized it! Christians who do not memorize Scripture should feel shame at being trumped by Jews from a rustic province!


  • Jesus memorized. He quoted from memory 23 verses from the OT in his preaching or teaching. He talked about an additional 17 passages without directly quoting from them.
  • Paul memorized. He quotes from the OT 167 times! Although he may have had scrolls with him on some occasions, there were times when he did not (2 Tim 4:13); and when he was preaching he did not have them, so we know he had many of those passages memorized.
  • Peter memorized. In his first sermon he quotes from memory five verses from the book of Joel. Then, in the same sermon, he quotes another five verses from Psalms.
  •  These Galileans memorized.


If we believe the Bible are the very words of God, why would we not memorize? Do we think so little of his words that we cannot commit them to memory? What excuse do those who do not memorize have? We can expose some inadequate excuses easily.


Some will say that they cannot memorize. This is patently false. Those who use this excuse can usually say the Pledge of Allegiance. They usually have their own phone number memorized or the phone number of their spouse. They usually have their social security number memorized. The keys to memorize are simply frequent exposure and practice. The truth is that some will not invest the time. While it is true that some can memorize more easily than others, all can do it. It’s also true that some have a poor memory. If you have a poor memory, you can still memorize. It just takes more practice and more time.


For some, they may only need to hear and recite a verse five times before they have it memorized. Others may need to read and recite a verse fifty times before they memorize it. But, all can.


Others say that do not have the time to memorize. This too is false. It is simply a matter of establishing priorities. God’s word should have the highest priority in our lives. God Himself is speaking to us through his word! More, it doesn’t take that much time. Even if we are among those who need to recite fifty times before we can have it in our memory, this probably takes less than forty minutes. Some may need to recite a verse 100 times. I know that can be frustrating. We can imagine a man whose wife only needs to practice reciting a verse 5 or 7 times and then she has it memorized. He may have to recite it 100 times. Well, we are not all equally made! We all have different aptitudes. Just work with what you have!


Therefore, those who do not memorize must fail to do so because they either doubt that the Bible is God’s infallible word or they are simply too lazy. Either reason is unacceptable and shameful. But there is a third reason why some do not memorize. There are some Christians who do believe that the Scriptures are God’s very words, but they think so little of them that they will not commit them to memory. This is even more shameful than the other two reasons.


Why should we memorize?  It helps us from falling into sin:

How can a young man keep his way pure?

By guarding it according to your word.

10    With my whole heart I seek you;

let me not wander from your commandments!

11    I have stored up your word in my heart,

that I might not sin against you. [6]



Storing God’s word in one’s heart is nothing less than memorization!


Why should we memorize? It will make us prosperous:


This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.[7]


Joshua is speaking to his fellow Israelites in the promised land. Joshua himself had the scrolls of the OT but the average Israelite did not. Therefore, in order for them to meditate on God’s law they would have had to have it memorized!


When we make God’s word a part of our thinking then we make wise decisions and success in our endeavors will follow.


Why should we memorize? Because it identifies us as true disciples rather than those who merely go though the motions of being a disciple without the reality:


So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,[8]


To abide in means to live in it!


Why should we memorize? Because it will set us free. The very next verse, after Jesus says, “Abide in my word,” reads:


and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”[9]


Abiding in Christ’s words will set us free from the bondage of sin, the bondage of bad habits, the bondage of false ideas, the bondage of negative thinking, the bondage of complaining, in fact, anything that holds us back from being sanctified. Knowing God’s words – having them in our hearts – will set us free! We will experience freedom!


Therefore, we should memorize so that:


  • we will not sin
  • we will be prosperous
  • we will be disciples of Jesus in reality
  • we will be free from false ideas and negativity.


For those who are not accustomed to memorization, a good starting place is to memorize one verse per week. The verse you choose should be recited daily, preferably in the morning. And, again throughout the day. Yes, we live (abide) in God’s word! The same verse should be recited every day the whole week. In this way, even those who have trouble will be able to memorize any verse by the end of a week. The second week, the disciple should continue to recite their verse from the first week and then begin a new verse.


Two years ago Genevieve and I went to the Creation Museum in Northern Kentucky, one of the presentations was on how to memorize Scripture. The man who was giving the presentation confessed that he was never good at memorizing, yet he had memorized 26 books of the Bible already! He offered some of the same methods that were listed in the above paragraph. He added one more for those who find it difficult to memorize. That is, he suggests writing out the verse many times. This is not necessary for all, just for those who have trouble. He himself writes out the verses that he wishes to memorize. Finally, he said that one of the most important things to do is to continue reciting the verses that you have already memorized. If you do not, they will escape your memory. This must be done daily.[10]


If you do not already have some verses that you wish to memorize, you can begin with verses about memorization! They will motivate you to continue! These are the ones that we just read: Psalm 119:9-11; Joshua 1:8; John 8:31-32. To these you may add Psalm 1:2.


An added benefit to memorization is that, besides simply reciting the verses, we can use our memorized verses as prayers to the Lord throughout the day. In this way, we will never lack things to pray about. And, we will be praying the very best prayers – those that have come from the mind of God Himself!


And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves.

  13      And He *said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbersden.”[11]


This passage refutes the popular image of Jesus as a pacifist. Our Lord was bold when he ministered on the earth. He called people names. In one chapter alone, he calls some people hypocrites (23:15), children of hell (23:15), blind guides (23:16), fools (23:17), white tombs (23:27), full of iniquity (23:28), snakes (23:33), generation of vipers (23:33), and murderers (23:34). Elsewhere he called people liars (John 8:55). He calls Herod a fox (Luke 13:32), an insult and a purposeful designation of his character (sneaky and lowly). Here, he overturned the tables of the moneychangers! And, he did it more than once! John records, in chapter two of his gospel, a cleansing of the temple two or three years prior to this cleansing which Matthew chronicles.


We need more boldness as representatives of Christ. Jesus was bold. The apostles were bold. The early martyrs of the church were bold. Away with our quietness and silence! We need to speak out in the face of sin, identifying it as rebellion against God. We need to stand upon the truth of who people really are and do so unashamedly. The Holy Spirit will grant this kind of boldness. The only caveat to this practice is that, if we are going to identify the corruption in a person, they must know that we are doing so as a spokesperson for God and not simply because we are upset about something. An example: “The Lord calls those who have sex outside of marriage as ’fornicators.’ You are a fornicator and the Lord also says that no fornicator will enter the kingdom of heaven.” This makes it clear that you are not just offering your opinion, but that God is the one who charges them.


Then Jesus quotes Isaiah 56:7 in verse 13. We again see that Jesus had Scripture memorized.


And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them.

  15      But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the marvelous things that He had done, and the children who were shouting in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant

  16      and said to Him, “Do You hear what these children are saying?” And Jesus *said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies You have prepared praise for Yourself’?”[12]


Again, Jesus is healing. He cared about people’s physical condition.


Our passage this morning helps us to see two things.


  1. God’s people memorize Scripture. If they are the words of God then we ought to commit them to memory. This takes work. It isn’t easy for some. But we need to fill our minds and our hearts with the words of God!
  2. Jesus was bold. We are called to be like him. We ought to be bold when it comes to proclaiming or defending the truth!


One of the keys to being bold is knowing God’s words! Thus, memorization helps us to be bold!


What ought we to do? Of course, the answer is to memorize God’s words.


  • Set a goal. A reasonable goal is to memorize one verse per week. Maybe for just three months. If that is your goal, after three months you would have 13 verses memorized!
  • Set a time. Memorizing is something the devil does not want you to do. You yourself may be disinclined to do it. Therefore, if you do not set a specific time to do it, it won’t happen. The best time is in the morning. If you must start your job exceptionally early, maybe lunch time would work. But, you should set a specific time each day aside for it.
  • Use tools. 3 x 5 cards are very handy for this purpose. You can carry them in your pocket.
  • Recite throughout the day.
  • Continue to recite the previous week’s verse the following week – all of the previous verses! This is the key to retention.


Let us begin to memorize if we haven’t done so in a while. When God’s word abides in us we will discover that we have more confidence and boldness to speak it!




[1] R T France, The Gospel of Matthew, 776.

[2] Ibid, 773.

[3] Legacy Standard Bible (2021). (Mt 21:10). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[4] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Zec 9:10). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[5] Legacy Standard Bible (2021). (Mt 21:9). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 119:9–11). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jos 1:8). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 8:31). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[9] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 8:32). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[10] This means that, if our goal is to memorize one verse per week, by the end of a year we will be reciting 52 verses daily! That may seem like a lot but, actually, it only takes between a half hour and forty-five minutes.

[11] Legacy Standard Bible (2021). (Mt 21:12–13). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[12] Legacy Standard Bible (2021). (Mt 21:14–16). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.