In the morning, as Jesus returned to the city, he became hungry.
When he saw a fig tree by the road, he went up to the tree and found nothing on it but leaves. He said to the tree, "May fruit never grow on you again!" At once the fig tree dried up.
The disciples were surprised to see this. They asked, "How did the fig tree dry up so quickly?"
Jesus answered them, "I can guarantee this truth: If you have faith and do not doubt, you will be able to do what I did to the fig tree. You could also say to this mountain, 'Be uprooted and thrown into the sea,' and it will happen.
Have faith that you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."
Then Jesus went into the temple courtyard and began to teach. The chief priests and the leaders of the people came to him. They asked, "What gives you the right to do these things? Who told you that you could do this?"
Jesus answered them, "I, too, have a question for you. If you answer it for me, I'll tell you why I have the right to do these things.
Did John's right to baptize come from heaven or from humans?" They discussed this among themselves. They said, "If we say, 'from heaven,' he will ask us, 'Then why didn't you believe him?'
But if we say, 'from humans,' we're afraid of what the crowd might do. All those people think of John as a prophet."
So they answered Jesus, "We don't know." Jesus told them, "Then I won't tell you why I have the right to do these things.
"What do you think about this? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said, 'Son, go to work in the vineyard today.'
"His son replied, 'I don't want to!' But later he changed his mind and went.
"The father went to the other son and told him the same thing. He replied, 'I will, sir,' but he didn't go.
"Which of the two sons did what the father wanted?" "The first," they answered. Jesus said to them, "I can guarantee this truth: Tax collectors and prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.
John came to you and showed you the way that God wants you to live, but you didn't believe him. The tax collectors and prostitutes believed him. But even after you had seen that, you didn't change your minds and believe him.
"Listen to another illustration. A landowner planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, made a winepress, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to vineyard workers and went on a trip.
"When the grapes were getting ripe, he sent his servants to the workers to collect his share of the produce.
The workers took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned a third to death.
So the landowner sent more servants. But the workers treated them the same way.
"Finally, he sent his son to them. He thought, 'They will respect my son.'
"When the workers saw his son, they said to one another, 'This is the heir. Let's kill him and get his inheritance.'
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 workers?"
They answered, "He will destroy those evil people. Then he will lease the vineyard to other workers who will give him his share of the produce when it is ready."
Jesus asked them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: 'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. The Lord is responsible for this, and it is amazing for us to see'?
That is why I can guarantee that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce what God wants.
Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken. If the stone falls on anyone, it will crush that person."
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his illustrations, they knew that he was talking about them.
They wanted to arrest him but were afraid of the crowds, who thought he was a prophet.
Again Jesus used stories as illustrations when he spoke to them. He said,
"The kingdom of heaven is like a king who planned a wedding for his son.
He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the wedding, but they refused to come.
He sent other servants to tell the people who had been invited, 'I've prepared dinner. My bulls and fattened calves have been butchered. Everything is ready. Come to the wedding!'
"But they paid no attention and went away. Some went to work in their own fields, and others went to their businesses.
The rest grabbed the king's servants, mistreated them, and then killed them.
"The king became angry. He sent his soldiers, killed those murderers, and burned their city.
"Then the king said to his servants, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited don't deserve the honor.
Go where the roads leave the city. Invite everyone you find to the wedding.'
The servants went into the streets and brought in all the good people and all the evil people they found. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.
"When the king came to see the guests, he saw a person who was not dressed in the wedding clothes [provided for the guests].
He said to him, 'Friend, how did you get in here without proper wedding clothes?' "The man had nothing to say.
Then the king told his servants, 'Tie his hands and feet, and throw him outside into the darkness. People will cry and be in extreme pain there.'
"Therefore, many are invited, but few of those are chosen to stay."
Then the Pharisees went away and planned to trap Jesus into saying the wrong thing.
They sent their disciples to him along with Herod's followers. They said to him, "Teacher, we know that you tell the truth and that you teach the truth about the way of God. You don't favor individuals because of who they are.
So tell us what you think. Is it right to pay taxes to the emperor or not?"
Jesus recognized their evil plan, so he asked, "Why do you test me, you hypocrites?
Show me a coin used to pay taxes." They brought him a coin.
He said to them, "Whose face and name is this?"
They replied, "The emperor's." Then he said to them, "Very well, give the emperor what belongs to the emperor, and give God what belongs to God."
They were surprised to hear this. Then they left him alone and went away.
On that day some Sadducees, who say that people will never come back to life, came to Jesus. They asked him,
"Teacher, Moses said, 'If a man dies childless, his brother should marry his widow and have children for his brother.'
There were seven brothers among us. The first married and died. Since he had no children, he left his widow to his brother.
The second brother also died, as well as the third, and the rest of the seven brothers.
At last the woman died.
Now, when the dead come back to life, whose wife will she be? All seven brothers had been married to her."
Jesus answered, "You're mistaken because you don't know the Scriptures or God's power.
When people come back to life, they don't marry. Rather, they are like the angels in heaven.
Haven't you read what God told you about the dead coming back to life? He said,
'I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.' He's not the God of the dead but of the living."
He amazed the crowds who heard his teaching.
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.
One of them, an expert in Moses' Teachings, tested Jesus by asking,
"Teacher, which commandment is the greatest in Moses' Teachings?"
Jesus answered him, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'
This is the greatest and most important commandment.
The second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as you love yourself.'
All of Moses' Teachings and the Prophets depend on these two commandments."
While the Pharisees were still gathered, Jesus asked them,
"What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?" They answered him, "David's."
He said to them, "Then how can David, guided by the Spirit, call him Lord? David says,
'The Lord said to my Lord, "Take the highest position in heaven until I put your enemies under your control."'
If David calls him Lord, how can he be his son?"
No one could answer him, and from that time on no one dared to ask him another question.
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples,
"The scribes and the Pharisees teach with Moses' authority.
So be careful to do everything they tell you. But don't follow their example, because they don't practice what they preach.
They make loads that are hard to carry and lay them on the shoulders of the people. However, they are not willing to lift a finger to move them
"They do everything to attract people's attention. They make their headbands large and the tassels on their shawls long.
They love the place of honor at dinners and the front seats in synagogues.
They love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have people call them Rabbi.
But don't make others call you Rabbi, because you have only one teacher, and you are all followers.
And don't call anyone on earth your father, because you have only one Father, and he is in heaven.
Don't make others call you a leader, because you have only one leader, the Messiah.
The person who is greatest among you will be your servant.
Whoever honors himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be honored.
"How horrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. You don't enter it yourselves, and you don't permit others to enter when they try.
"How horrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You cross land and sea to recruit a single follower, and when you do, you make that person twice as fit for hell as you are.
"How horrible it will be for you, you blind guides! You say, 'To swear an oath by the temple doesn't mean a thing. But to swear an oath by the gold in the temple means a person must keep his oath.'
You blind fools! What is more important, the gold or the temple that made the gold holy?
Again you say, 'To swear an oath by the altar doesn't mean a thing. But to swear an oath by the gift on the altar means a person must keep his oath.'
You blind men! What is more important, the gift or the altar that makes the gift holy
To swear an oath by the altar is to swear by it and by everything on it.
To swear an oath by the temple is to swear by it and by the one who lives there
And to swear an oath by heaven is to swear by God's throne and the one who sits on it.
"How horrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You give [God] one-tenth of your mint, dill, and cumin. But you have neglected justice, mercy, and faithfulness. These are the most important things in Moses' Teachings. You should have done these things without neglecting the others.
You blind guides! You strain gnats [out of your wine], but you swallow camels.
"How horrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You clean the outside of cups and dishes. But inside they are full of greed and uncontrolled desires.
You blind Pharisees! First clean the inside of the cups and dishes so that the outside may also be clean.
"How horrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You are like whitewashed graves that look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead people's bones and every kind of impurity.
So on the outside you look as though you have God's approval, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
"How horrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the monuments of those who had God's approval.
Then you say, 'If we had lived at the time of our ancestors, we would not have helped to murder the prophets.'
So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets.
Go ahead, finish what your ancestors started!
"You snakes! You poisonous snakes! How can you escape being condemned to hell?
I'm sending you prophets, wise men, and teachers of the Scriptures. You will kill and crucify some of them. Others you will whip in your synagogues and persecute from city to city.
As a result, you will be held accountable for all the innocent blood of those murdered on earth, from the murder of righteous Abel to that of Zechariah, son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.
I can guarantee this truth: The people living now will be held accountable for all these things
"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you kill the prophets and stone to death those sent to you! How often I wanted to gather your children together the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings! But you were not willing!
Your house will be abandoned, deserted