On his way back to the city early next morning, Jesus was hungry.
He saw a fig tree by the side of the road and went to it, but found nothing on it except leaves. So he said to the tree, "You will never again bear fruit!" At once the fig tree dried up.
The disciples saw this and were astounded. "How did the fig tree dry up so quickly?" they asked.
Jesus answered, "I assure you that if you believe and do not doubt, you will be able to do what I have done to this fig tree. And not only this, but you will even be able to say to this hill, "Get up and throw yourself in the sea,' and it will.
If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."
Jesus came back to the Temple; and as he taught, the chief priests and the elders came to him and asked, "What right do you have to do these things? Who gave you such right?"
Jesus answered them, "I will ask you just one question, and if you give me an answer, I will tell you what right I have to do these things.
Where did John's right to baptize come from: was it from God or from human beings?" They started to argue among themselves, "What shall we say? If we answer, "From God,' he will say to us, "Why, then, did you not believe John?'
But if we say, "From human beings,' we are afraid of what the people might do, because they are all convinced that John was a prophet."
So they answered Jesus, "We don't know." And he said to them, "Neither will I tell you, then, by what right I do these things.
"Now, what do you think? There was once a man who had two sons. He went to the older one and said, "Son, go and work in the vineyard today.'
"I don't want to,' he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. "Yes, sir,' he answered, but he did not go.
Which one of the two did what his father wanted?" "The older one," they answered. So Jesus said to them, "I tell you: the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the Kingdom of God ahead of you.
For John the Baptist came to you showing you the right path to take, and you would not believe him; but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. Even when you saw this, you did not later change your minds and believe him.
"Listen to another parable," Jesus said. "There was once a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a hole for the wine press, and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to tenants and left home on a trip.
When the time came to gather the grapes, he sent his slaves to the tenants to receive his share of the harvest.
The tenants grabbed his slaves, beat one, killed another, and stoned another.
Again the man sent other slaves, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way.
Last of all he sent his son to them. "Surely they will respect my son,' he said.
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, "This is the owner's son. Come on, let's kill him, and we will get his property!'
So they grabbed him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
"Now, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?" Jesus asked.
"He will certainly kill those evil men," they answered, "and rent the vineyard out to other tenants, who will give him his share of the harvest at the right time."
Jesus said to them, "Haven't you ever read what the Scriptures say? "The stone which the builders rejected as worthless turned out to be the most important of all. This was done by the Lord; what a wonderful sight it is!'
"And so I tell you," added Jesus, "the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce the proper fruits."
The chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus' parables and knew that he was talking about them,
so they tried to arrest him. But they were afraid of the crowds, who considered Jesus to be a prophet.
Jesus again used parables in talking to the people.
"The Kingdom of heaven is like this. Once there was a king who prepared a wedding feast for his son.
He sent his servants to tell the invited guests to come to the feast, but they did not want to come.
So he sent other servants with this message for the guests: "My feast is ready now; my steers and prize calves have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast!'
But the invited guests paid no attention and went about their business: one went to his farm, another to his store,
while others grabbed the servants, beat them, and killed them.
The king was very angry; so he sent his soldiers, who killed those murderers and burned down their city.
Then he called his servants and said to them, "My wedding feast is ready, but the people I invited did not deserve it.
Now go to the main streets and invite to the feast as many people as you find.'
So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, good and bad alike; and the wedding hall was filled with people.
"The king went in to look at the guests and saw a man who was not wearing wedding clothes.
"Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' the king asked him. But the man said nothing.
Then the king told the servants, "Tie him up hand and foot, and throw him outside in the dark. There he will cry and gnash his teeth.' "
And Jesus concluded, "Many are invited, but few are chosen."
The Pharisees went off and made a plan to trap Jesus with questions.
Then they sent to him some of their disciples and some members of Herod's party. "Teacher," they said, "we know that you tell the truth. You teach the truth about God's will for people, without worrying about what others think, because you pay no attention to anyone's status.
Tell us, then, what do you think? Is it against our Law to pay taxes to the Roman Emperor, or not?"
Jesus, however, was aware of their evil plan, and so he said, "You hypocrites! Why are you trying to trap me?
Show me the coin for paying the tax!" They brought him the coin,
and he asked them, "Whose face and name are these?"
"The Emperor's," they answered. So Jesus said to them, "Well, then, pay to the Emperor what belongs to the Emperor, and pay to God what belongs to God."
When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.
That same day some Sadducees came to Jesus and claimed that people will not rise from death.
"Teacher," they said, "Moses said that if a man who has no children dies, his brother must marry the widow so that they can have children who will be considered the dead man's children.
Now, there were seven brothers who used to live here. The oldest got married and died without having children, so he left his widow to his brother.
The same thing happened to the second brother, to the third, and finally to all seven.
Last of all, the woman died.
Now, on the day when the dead rise to life, whose wife will she be? All of them had married her."
Jesus answered them, "How wrong you are! It is because you don't know the Scriptures or God's power.
For when the dead rise to life, they will be like the angels in heaven and will not marry.
Now, as for the dead rising to life: haven't you ever read what God has told you? He said,
"I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' He is the God of the living, not of the dead."
When the crowds heard this, they were amazed at his teaching.
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they came together,
and one of them, a teacher of the Law, tried to trap him with a question.
"Teacher," he asked, "which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
Jesus answered, " "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'
This is the greatest and the most important commandment.
The second most important commandment is like it: "Love your neighbor as you love yourself.'
The whole Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets depend on these two commandments."
When some Pharisees gathered together, Jesus asked them,
"What do you think about the Messiah? Whose descendant is he?" "He is David's descendant," they answered.
"Why, then," Jesus asked, "did the Spirit inspire David to call him "Lord'? David said,
"The Lord said to my Lord: Sit here at my right side until I put your enemies under your feet.'
If, then, David called him "Lord,' how can the Messiah be David's descendant?"
No one was able to give Jesus any answer, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.
Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples.
"The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees are the authorized interpreters of Moses' Law.
So you must obey and follow everything they tell you to do; do not, however, imitate their actions, because they don't practice what they preach.
They tie onto people's backs loads that are heavy and hard to carry, yet they aren't willing even to lift a finger to help them carry those loads.
They do everything so that people will see them. Look at the straps with scripture verses on them which they wear on their foreheads and arms, and notice how large they are! Notice also how long are the tassels on their cloaks!
They love the best places at feasts and the reserved seats in the synagogues;
they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to have people call them "Teacher.'
You must not be called "Teacher,' because you are all equal and have only one Teacher.
And you must not call anyone here on earth "Father,' because you have only the one Father in heaven.
Nor should you be called "Leader,' because your one and only leader is the Messiah.
The greatest one among you must be your servant.
Whoever makes himself great will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be made great.
"How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You lock the door to the Kingdom of heaven in people's faces, but you yourselves don't go in, nor do you allow in those who are trying to enter!
"How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You sail the seas and cross whole countries to win one convert; and when you succeed, you make him twice as deserving of going to hell as you yourselves are!
"How terrible for you, blind guides! You teach, "If someone swears by the Temple, he isn't bound by his vow; but if he swears by the gold in the Temple, he is bound.'
Blind fools! Which is more important, the gold or the Temple which makes the gold holy?
You also teach, "If someone swears by the altar, he isn't bound by his vow; but if he swears by the gift on the altar, he is bound.'
How blind you are! Which is the more important, the gift or the altar which makes the gift holy?
So then, when a person swears by the altar, he is swearing by it and by all the gifts on it;
and when he swears by the Temple, he is swearing by it and by God, who lives there;
and when someone swears by heaven, he is swearing by God's throne and by him who sits on it.
"How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You give to God one tenth even of the seasoning herbs, such as mint, dill, and cumin, but you neglect to obey the really important teachings of the Law, such as justice and mercy and honesty. These you should practice, without neglecting the others.
Blind guides! You strain a fly out of your drink, but swallow a camel!
"How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You clean the outside of your cup and plate, while the inside is full of what you have gotten by violence and selfishness.
Blind Pharisee! Clean what is inside the cup first, and then the outside will be clean too!
"How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look fine on the outside but are full of bones and decaying corpses on the inside.
In the same way, on the outside you appear good to everybody, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and sins.
"How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You make fine tombs for the prophets and decorate the monuments of those who lived good lives;
and you claim that if you had lived during the time of your ancestors, you would not have done what they did and killed the prophets.
So you actually admit that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets!
Go on, then, and finish up what your ancestors started!
You snakes and children of snakes! How do you expect to escape from being condemned to hell?
And so I tell you that I will send you prophets and wise men and teachers; you will kill some of them, crucify others, and whip others in the synagogues and chase them from town to town.
As a result, the punishment for the murder of all innocent people will fall on you, from the murder of innocent Abel to the murder of Zechariah son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the Temple and the altar.
I tell you indeed: the punishment for all these murders will fall on the people of this day!
"Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You kill the prophets and stone the messengers God has sent you! How many times I wanted to put my arms around all your people, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would not let me!
And so your Temple will be abandoned and empty.
From now on, I tell you, you will never see me again until you say, "God bless him who comes in the name of the Lord.' "