When they were nearing Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany on Mount Olives, he sent off two of the disciples with instructions:
"Go to the village across from you. As soon as you enter, you'll find a colt tethered, one that has never yet been ridden. Untie it and bring it.
If anyone asks, 'What are you doing?' say, 'The Master needs him, and will return him right away.'"
They went and found a colt tied to a door at the street corner and untied it.
Some of those standing there said, "What are you doing untying that colt?"
The disciples replied exactly as Jesus had instructed them, and the people let them alone.
They brought the colt to Jesus, spread their coats on it, and he mounted.
The people gave him a wonderful welcome, some throwing their coats on the street, others spreading out rushes they had cut in the fields.
Running ahead and following after, they were calling out, Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in God's name!
Blessed the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in highest heaven!
He entered Jerusalem, then entered the Temple. He looked around, taking it all in. But by now it was late, so he went back to Bethany with the Twelve.
As they left Bethany the next day, he was hungry.
Off in the distance he saw a fig tree in full leaf. He came up to it expecting to find something for breakfast, but found nothing but fig leaves. (It wasn't yet the season for figs.)
He addressed the tree: "No one is going to eat fruit from you again - ever!" And his disciples overheard him.
They arrived at Jerusalem. Immediately on entering the Temple Jesus started throwing out everyone who had set up shop there, buying and selling. He kicked over the tables of the bankers and the stalls of the pigeon merchants.
He didn't let anyone even carry a basket through the Temple.
And then he taught them, quoting this text: My house was designated a house of prayer for the nations; You've turned it into a hangout for thieves.
The high priests and religion scholars heard what was going on and plotted how they might get rid of him. They panicked, for the entire crowd was carried away by his teaching.
At evening, Jesus and his disciples left the city.
In the morning, walking along the road, they saw the fig tree, shriveled to a dry stick.
Peter, remembering what had happened the previous day, said to him, "Rabbi, look - the fig tree you cursed is shriveled up!"
Jesus was matter-of-fact: "Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it,
and nothing will be too much for you. This mountain, for instance: Just say, 'Go jump in the lake' - no shuffling or shilly-shallying - and it's as good as done.
That's why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you'll get God's everything.
And when you assume the posture of prayer, remember that it's not all asking. If you have anything against someone, forgive - only then will your heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins."
Then when they were back in Jerusalem once again, as they were walking through the Temple, the high priests, religion scholars, and leaders came up
and demanded, "Show us your credentials. Who authorized you to speak and act like this?"
Jesus responded, "First let me ask you a question. Answer my question and then I'll present my credentials.
About the baptism of John - who authorized it: heaven or humans? Tell me."
They were on the spot, and knew it. They pulled back into a huddle and whispered, "If we say 'heaven,' he'll ask us why we didn't believe John;
if we say 'humans,' we'll be up against it with the people because they all hold John up as a prophet."
They decided to concede that round to Jesus. "We don't know," they said. Jesus replied, "Then I won't answer your question either."
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)