Matthew 21; Matthew 22; Matthew 23; Matthew 24; Matthew 25; Matthew 26; Matthew 27 (The Message)

1 When they neared Jerusalem, having arrived at Bethphage on Mount Olives, Jesus sent two disciples 2 with these instructions: "Go over to the village across from you. You'll find a donkey tethered there, her colt with her. Untie her and bring them to me. 3 If anyone asks what you're doing, say, 'The Master needs them!' He will send them with you." 4 This is the full story of what was sketched earlier by the prophet: 5 Tell Zion's daughter, "Look, your king's on his way, poised and ready, mounted On a donkey, on a colt, foal of a pack animal." 6 The disciples went and did exactly what Jesus told them to do. 7 They led the donkey and colt out, laid some of their clothes on them, and Jesus mounted. 8 Nearly all the people in the crowd threw their garments down on the road, giving him a royal welcome. Others cut branches from the trees and threw them down as a welcome mat. 9 Crowds went ahead and crowds followed, all of them calling out, "Hosanna to David's son!" "Blessed is he who comes in God's name!" "Hosanna in highest heaven!" 10 As he made his entrance into Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken. Unnerved, people were asking, "What's going on here? Who is this?" 11 The parade crowd answered, "This is the prophet Jesus, the one from Nazareth in Galilee." 12 Jesus went straight to the Temple and threw out everyone who had set up shop, buying and selling. He kicked over the tables of loan sharks and the stalls of dove merchants. 13 He quoted this text: My house was designated a house of prayer; You have made it a hangout for thieves. 14 Now there was room for the blind and crippled to get in. They came to Jesus and he healed them. 15 When the religious leaders saw the outrageous things he was doing, and heard all the children running and shouting through the Temple, "Hosanna to David's Son!" they were up in arms and took him to task. 16 "Do you hear what these children are saying?" Jesus said, "Yes, I hear them. And haven't you read in God's Word, 'From the mouths of children and babies I'll furnish a place of praise'?" 17 Fed up, Jesus turned on his heel and left the city for Bethany, where he spent the night. 18 Early the next morning Jesus was returning to the city. He was hungry. 19 Seeing a lone fig tree alongside the road, he approached it anticipating a breakfast of figs. When he got to the tree, there was nothing but fig leaves. He said, "No more figs from this tree - ever!" The fig tree withered on the spot, a dry stick. 20 The disciples saw it happen. They rubbed their eyes, saying, "Did we really see this? A leafy tree one minute, a dry stick the next?" 21 But Jesus was matter-of-fact: "Yes - and if you embrace this kingdom life and don't doubt God, you'll not only do minor feats like I did to the fig tree, but also triumph over huge obstacles. This mountain, for instance, you'll tell, 'Go jump in the lake,' and it will jump. 22 Absolutely everything, ranging from small to large, as you make it a part of your believing prayer, gets included as you lay hold of God." 23 Then he was back in the Temple, teaching. The high priests and leaders of the people came up and demanded, "Show us your credentials. Who authorized you to teach here?" 24 Jesus responded, "First let me ask you a question. You answer my question and I'll answer yours. 25 About the baptism of John - who authorized it: heaven or humans?" 26 if we say 'humans,' we're up against it with the people because they all hold John up as a prophet." 27 They decided to concede that round to Jesus. "We don't know," they answered. Jesus said, "Then neither will I answer your question. 28 "Tell me what you think of this story: A man had two sons. He went up to the first and said, 'Son, go out for the day and work in the vineyard.' 29 "The son answered, 'I don't want to.' Later on he thought better of it and went. 30 "The father gave the same command to the second son. He answered, 'Sure, glad to.' But he never went. 31 "Which of the two sons did what the father asked?" They said, "The first." 32 John came to you showing you the right road. You turned up your noses at him, but the crooks and whores believed him. Even when you saw their changed lives, you didn't care enough to change and believe him. 33 "Here's another story. Listen closely. There was once a man, a wealthy farmer, who planted a vineyard. He fenced it, dug a winepress, put up a watchtower, then turned it over to the farmhands and went off on a trip. 34 When it was time to harvest the grapes, he sent his servants back to collect his profits. 35 "The farmhands grabbed the first servant and beat him up. The next one they murdered. They threw stones at the third but he got away. 36 The owner tried again, sending more servants. They got the same treatment. 37 The owner was at the end of his rope. He decided to send his son. 'Surely,' he thought, 'they will respect my son.' 38 "But when the farmhands saw the son arrive, they rubbed their hands in greed. 'This is the heir! Let's kill him and have it all for ourselves.' 39 They grabbed him, threw him out, and killed him. 40 "Now, when the owner of the vineyard arrives home from his trip, what do you think he will do to the farmhands?" 41 "He'll kill them - a rotten bunch, and good riddance," they answered. "Then he'll assign the vineyard to farmhands who will hand over the profits when it's time." 42 Jesus said, "Right - and you can read it for yourselves in your Bibles: The stone the masons threw out is now the cornerstone. This is God's work; we rub our eyes, we can hardly believe it! 43 "This is the way it is with you. God's kingdom will be taken back from you and handed over to a people who will live out a kingdom life. 44 Whoever stumbles on this Stone gets shattered; whoever the Stone falls on gets smashed." 45 When the religious leaders heard this story, they knew it was aimed at them. 46 They wanted to arrest Jesus and put him in jail, but, intimidated by public opinion, they held back. Most people held him to be a prophet of God. 1 Jesus responded by telling still more stories. 2 "God's kingdom," he said, "is like a king who threw a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent out servants to call in all the invited guests. And they wouldn't come! 4 "He sent out another round of servants, instructing them to tell the guests, 'Look, everything is on the table, the prime rib is ready for carving. Come to the feast!' 5 "They only shrugged their shoulders and went off, one to weed his garden, another to work in his shop. 6 The rest, with nothing better to do, beat up on the messengers and then killed them. 7 The king was outraged and sent his soldiers to destroy those thugs and level their city. 8 "Then he told his servants, 'We have a wedding banquet all prepared but no guests. The ones I invited weren't up to it. 9 Go out into the busiest intersections in town and invite anyone you find to the banquet.' 10 The servants went out on the streets and rounded up everyone they laid eyes on, good and bad, regardless. And so the banquet was on - every place filled. 11 "When the king entered and looked over the scene, he spotted a man who wasn't properly dressed. 12 He said to him, 'Friend, how dare you come in here looking like that!' The man was speechless. 13 Then the king told his servants, 'Get him out of here - fast. Tie him up and ship him to hell. And make sure he doesn't get back in.' 14 "That's what I mean when I say, 'Many get invited; only a few make it.'" 15 That's when the Pharisees plotted a way to trap him into saying something damaging. 16 They sent their disciples, with a few of Herod's followers mixed in, to ask, "Teacher, we know you have integrity, teach the way of God accurately, are indifferent to popular opinion, and don't pander to your students. 17 So tell us honestly: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?" 18 Jesus knew they were up to no good. He said, "Why are you playing these games with me? Why are you trying to trap me? 19 Do you have a coin? Let me see it." They handed him a silver piece. 20 "This engraving - who does it look like? And whose name is on it?" 21 They said, "Caesar." "Then give Caesar what is his, and give God what is his." 22 The Pharisees were speechless. They went off shaking their heads. 23 That same day, Sadducees approached him. This is the party that denies any possibility of resurrection. 24 They asked, "Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies childless, his brother is obligated to marry his widow and get her with child. 25 Here's a case where there were seven brothers. The first brother married and died, leaving no child, and his wife passed to his brother. 26 The second brother also left her childless, then the third - and on and on, all seven. 27 Eventually the wife died. 28 Now here's our question: At the resurrection, whose wife is she? She was a wife to each of them." 29 Jesus answered, "You're off base on two counts: You don't know your Bibles, and you don't know how God works. 30 At the resurrection we're beyond marriage. As with the angels, all our ecstasies and intimacies then will be with God. 31 And regarding your speculation on whether the dead are raised or not, don't you read your Bibles? The grammar is clear: God says, 32 'I am - not was - the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.' The living God defines himself not as the God of dead men, but of the living." 33 Hearing this exchange the crowd was much impressed. 34 When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. 35 One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: 36 "Teacher, which command in God's Law is the most important?" 37 Jesus said, "'Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.' 38 This is the most important, the first on any list. 39 But there is a second to set alongside it: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' 40 These two commands are pegs; everything in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from them." 41 As the Pharisees were regrouping, Jesus caught them off balance with his own test question: 42 "What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?" They said, "David's son." 43 Jesus replied, "Well, if the Christ is David's son, how do you explain that David, under inspiration, named Christ his 'Master'? 44 God said to my Master, "Sit here at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool." 45 "Now if David calls him 'Master,' how can he at the same time be his son?" 46 That stumped them, literalists that they were. Unwilling to risk losing face again in one of these public verbal exchanges, they quit asking questions for good. 1 Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. 2 "The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God's Law. 3 You won't go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don't live it. They don't take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It's all spit-and-polish veneer. 4 "Instead of giving you God's Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn't think of lifting a finger to help 5 Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next. 6 They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, 7 preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called 'Doctor' and 'Reverend.' 8 "Don't let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. 9 Don't set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of 'Father'; you have only one Father, and he's in heaven. 10 And don't let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them - Christ. 11 "Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. 12 If you puff yourself up, you'll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you're content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty. 13 "I've had it with you! You're hopeless, you religion scholars, you Pharisees! Frauds! Your lives are roadblocks to God's kingdom. You refuse to enter, and won't let anyone else in either. 15 "You're hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You go halfway around the world to make a convert, but once you get him you make him into a replica of yourselves, double-damned. 16 "You're hopeless! What arrogant stupidity! You say, 'If someone makes a promise with his fingers crossed, that's nothing; but if he swears with his hand on the Bible, that's serious.' 17 What ignorance! Does the leather on the Bible carry more weight than the skin on your hands? 18 And what about this piece of trivia: 'If you shake hands on a promise, that's nothing; but if you raise your hand that God is your witness, that's serious'? 19 What ridiculous hairsplitting! What difference does it make whether you shake hands or raise hands 20 A promise is a promise. What difference does it make if you make your promise inside or outside a house of worship? A promise is a promise. God is present, watching and holding you to account regardless. 21 22 23 "You're hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You keep meticulous account books, tithing on every nickel and dime you get, but on the meat of God's Law, things like fairness and compassion and commitment - the absolute basics! - you carelessly take it or leave it. Careful bookkeeping is commendable, but the basics are required. 24 Do you have any idea how silly you look, writing a life story that's wrong from start to finish, nitpicking over commas and semicolons? 25 "You're hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You burnish the surface of your cups and bowls so they sparkle in the sun, while the insides are maggoty with your greed and gluttony. 26 Stupid Pharisee! Scour the insides, and then the gleaming surface will mean something. 27 "You're hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You're like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it's all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. 28 People look at you and think you're saints, but beneath the skin you're total frauds. 29 "You're hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You build granite tombs for your prophets and marble monuments for your saints. 30 And you say that if you had lived in the days of your ancestors, no blood would have been on your hands. 31 You protest too much! You're cut from the same cloth as those murderers, 32 and daily add to the death count. 33 "Snakes! Reptilian sneaks! Do you think you can worm your way out of this? Never have to pay the piper? 34 It's on account of people like you that I send prophets and wise guides and scholars generation after generation - and generation after generation you treat them like dirt, greeting them with lynch mobs, hounding them with abuse. 35 "You can't squirm out of this: Every drop of righteous blood ever spilled on this earth, beginning with the blood of that good man Abel right down to the blood of Zechariah, Barachiah's son, whom you murdered at his prayers, is on your head. 36 All this, I'm telling you, is coming down on you, on your generation 37 "Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Murderer of prophets! Killer of the ones who brought you God's news! How often I've ached to embrace your children, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you wouldn't let me. 38 And now you're so desolate, nothing but a ghost town 39 What is there left to say? Only this: I'm out of here soon. The next time you see me you'll say, 'Oh, God has blessed him! He's come, bringing God's rule!'" 1 Jesus then left the Temple. As he walked away, his disciples pointed out how very impressive the Temple architecture was. 2 Jesus said, "You're not impressed by all this sheer size, are you? The truth of the matter is that there's not a stone in that building that is not going to end up in a pile of rubble." 3 Later as he was sitting on Mount Olives, his disciples approached and asked him, "Tell us, when are these things going to happen? What will be the sign of your coming, that the time's up?" 4 Jesus said, "Watch out for doomsday deceivers. 5 Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities, claiming, 'I am Christ, the Messiah.' They will deceive a lot of people. 6 When reports come in of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don't panic. This is routine history; this is no sign of the end. 7 Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Famines and earthquakes will occur in various places. 8 This is nothing compared to what is coming. 9 "They are going to throw you to the wolves and kill you, everyone hating you because you carry my name. 10 And then, going from bad to worse, it will be dog-eat-dog, everyone at each other's throat, everyone hating each other. 11 "In the confusion, lying preachers will come forward and deceive a lot of people. 12 For many others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in - nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes. 13 "Staying with it - that's what God requires. Stay with it to the end. You won't be sorry, and you'll be saved. 14 All during this time, the good news - the Message of the kingdom - will be preached all over the world, a witness staked out in every country. And then the end will come. 15 "But be ready to run for it when you see the monster of desecration set up in the Temple sanctuary. The prophet Daniel described this. If you've read Daniel, you'll know what I'm talking about. 16 If you're living in Judea at the time, run for the hills; 17 if you're working in the yard, don't return to the house to get anything; 18 if you're out in the field, don't go back and get your coat. 19 Pregnant and nursing mothers will have it especially hard. 20 Hope and pray this won't happen during the winter or on a Sabbath. 21 "This is going to be trouble on a scale beyond what the world has ever seen, or will see again. 22 If these days of trouble were left to run their course, nobody would make it. But on account of God's chosen people, the trouble will be cut short. 23 "If anyone tries to flag you down, calling out, 'Here's the Messiah!' or points, 'There he is!' don't fall for it. 24 Fake Messiahs and lying preachers are going to pop up everywhere. Their impressive credentials and dazzling performances will pull the wool over the eyes of even those who ought to know better. 25 But I've given you fair warning. 26 "So if they say, 'Run to the country and see him arrive!' or, 'Quick, get downtown, see him come!' don't give them the time of day. 27 The Arrival of the Son of Man isn't something you go to see. He comes like swift lightning to you! 28 Whenever you see crowds gathering, think of carrion vultures circling, moving in, hovering over a rotting carcass. You can be quite sure that it's not the living Son of Man pulling in those crowds. 29 "Following those hard times, Sun will fade out, moon cloud over, Stars fall out of the sky, cosmic powers tremble. 30 "Then, the Arrival of the Son of Man! It will fill the skies - no one will miss it. Unready people all over the world, outsiders to the splendor and power, will raise a huge lament as they watch the Son of Man blazing out of heaven. 31 At that same moment, he'll dispatch his angels with a trumpet-blast summons, pulling in God's chosen from the four winds, from pole to pole. 32 "Take a lesson from the fig tree. From the moment you notice its buds form, the merest hint of green, you know summer's just around the corner. 33 So it is with you: When you see all these things, you'll know he's at the door. 34 Don't take this lightly. I'm not just saying this for some future generation, but for all of you. This age continues until all these things take place. 35 Sky and earth will wear out; my words won't wear out. 36 "But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven's angels, not even the Son. Only the Father knows. 37 "The Arrival of the Son of Man will take place in times like Noah's. 38 Before the great flood everyone was carrying on as usual, having a good time right up to the day Noah boarded the ark. 39 They knew nothing - until the flood hit and swept everything away. 40 Two men will be working in the field - one will be taken, one left behind; 41 two women will be grinding at the mill - one will be taken, one left behind. 42 So stay awake, alert. You have no idea what day your Master will show up. 43 But you do know this: You know that if the homeowner had known what time of night the burglar would arrive, he would have been there with his dogs to prevent the break-in. 44 Be vigilant just like that. You have no idea when the Son of Man is going to show up. 45 "Who here qualifies for the job of overseeing the kitchen? A person the Master can depend on to feed the workers on time each day. 46 Someone the Master can drop in on unannounced and always find him doing his job. A God-blessed man or woman, I tell you. 47 It won't be long before the Master will put this person in charge of the whole operation. 48 "But if that person only looks out for himself, and the minute the Master is away does what he pleases - 49 abusing the help and throwing drunken parties for his friends - 50 the Master is going to show up when he least expects it 51 and make hash of him. He'll end up in the dump with the hypocrites, out in the cold shivering, teeth chattering. 1 "God's kingdom is like ten young virgins who took oil lamps and went out to greet the bridegroom. 2 Five were silly and five were smart. 3 The silly virgins took lamps, but no extra oil. 4 The smart virgins took jars of oil to feed their lamps. 5 The bridegroom didn't show up when they expected him, and they all fell asleep. 6 "In the middle of the night someone yelled out, 'He's here! The bridegroom's here! Go out and greet him!' 7 "The ten virgins got up and got their lamps ready. 8 The silly virgins said to the smart ones, 'Our lamps are going out; lend us some of your oil.' 9 "They answered, 'There might not be enough to go around; go buy your own.' 10 "They did, but while they were out buying oil, the bridegroom arrived. When everyone who was there to greet him had gone into the wedding feast, the door was locked. 11 "Much later, the other virgins, the silly ones, showed up and knocked on the door, saying, 'Master, we're here. Let us in.' 12 "He answered, 'Do I know you? I don't think I know you.' 13 "So stay alert. You have no idea when he might arrive. 14 "It's also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. 15 To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. 16 Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master's investment. 17 The second did the same. 18 But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master's money. 19 "After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. 20 The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. 21 His master commended him: 'Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.' 22 "The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master's investment. 23 His master commended him: 'Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.' 24 "The servant given one thousand said, 'Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. 25 I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.' 26 "The master was furious. 'That's a terrible way to live! It's criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? 27 The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest. 28 "'Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this "play-it-safe" who won't go out on a limb. 29 30 Throw him out into utter darkness.' 31 "When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. 32 Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, 33 putting sheep to his right and goats to his left. 34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation. 35 And here's why: I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, 36 I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.' 37 "Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? 38 And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' 39 40 Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me - you did it to me.' 41 "Then he will turn to the 'goats,' the ones on his left, and say, 'Get out, worthless goats! You're good for nothing but the fires of hell. 42 And why? Because - I was hungry and you gave me no meal, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was homeless and you gave me no bed, I was shivering and you gave me no clothes, Sick and in prison, and you never visited.' 44 "Then those 'goats' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn't help?' 45 "He will answer them, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me - you failed to do it to me.' 46 "Then those 'goats' will be herded to their eternal doom, but the 'sheep' to their eternal reward." 1 When Jesus finished saying these things, he told his disciples, 2 "You know that Passover comes in two days. That's when the Son of Man will be betrayed and handed over for crucifixion." 3 At that very moment, the party of high priests and religious leaders was meeting in the chambers of the Chief Priest named Caiaphas, 4 conspiring to seize Jesus by stealth and kill him. 5 They agreed that it should not be done during Passover Week. "We don't want a riot on our hands," they said. 6 When Jesus was at Bethany, a guest of Simon the Leper, 7 a woman came up to him as he was eating dinner and anointed him with a bottle of very expensive perfume. 8 When the disciples saw what was happening, they were furious. "That's criminal! 9 This could have been sold for a lot and the money handed out to the poor." 10 When Jesus realized what was going on, he intervened. "Why are you giving this woman a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. 11 You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives, but not me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, what she really did was anoint me for burial. 13 You can be sure that wherever in the whole world the Message is preached, what she has just done is going to be remembered and admired." 14 That is when one of the Twelve, the one named Judas Iscariot, went to the cabal of high priests 15 and said, "What will you give me if I hand him over to you?" They settled on thirty silver pieces. 16 He began looking for just the right moment to hand him over. 17 On the first of the Days of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and said, "Where do you want us to prepare your Passover meal?" 18 He said, "Enter the city. Go up to a certain man and say, 'The Teacher says, My time is near. I and my disciples plan to celebrate the Passover meal at your house.'" 19 The disciples followed Jesus' instructions to the letter, and prepared the Passover meal. 20 After sunset, he and the Twelve were sitting around the table. 21 During the meal, he said, "I have something hard but important to say to you: One of you is going to hand me over to the conspirators." 22 They were stunned, and then began to ask, one after another, "It isn't me, is it, Master?" 23 Jesus answered, "The one who hands me over is someone I eat with daily, one who passes me food at the table. 24 In one sense the Son of Man is entering into a way of treachery well-marked by the Scriptures - no surprises here. In another sense that man who turns him in, turns traitor to the Son of Man - better never to have been born than do this!" 25 Then Judas, already turned traitor, said, "It isn't me, is it, Rabbi?" Jesus said, "Don't play games with me, Judas." 26 During the meal, Jesus took and blessed the bread, broke it, and gave it to his disciples: Take, eat. This is my body. 27 Taking the cup and thanking God, he gave it to them: Drink this, all of you. 28 This is my blood, God's new covenant poured out for many people for the forgiveness of sins. 29 "I'll not be drinking wine from this cup again until that new day when I'll drink with you in the kingdom of my Father." 30 They sang a hymn and went directly to Mount Olives. 31 Then Jesus told them, "Before the night's over, you're going to fall to pieces because of what happens to me. There is a Scripture that says, I'll strike the shepherd; helter-skelter the sheep will be scattered. 32 But after I am raised up, I, your Shepherd, will go ahead of you, leading the way to Galilee." 33 Peter broke in, "Even if everyone else falls to pieces on account of you, I won't." 34 "Don't be so sure," Jesus said. "This very night, before the rooster crows up the dawn, you will deny me three times." 35 Peter protested, "Even if I had to die with you, I would never deny you." All the others said the same thing. 36 Then Jesus went with them to a garden called Gethsemane and told his disciples, "Stay here while I go over there and pray." 37 Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he plunged into an agonizing sorrow. 38 Then he said, "This sorrow is crushing my life out. Stay here and keep vigil with me." 39 Going a little ahead, he fell on his face, praying, "My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?" 40 When he came back to his disciples, he found them sound asleep. He said to Peter, "Can't you stick it out with me a single hour? 41 Stay alert; be in prayer so you don't wander into temptation without even knowing you're in danger. There is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything in God. But there's another part that's as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire." 42 He then left them a second time. Again he prayed, "My Father, if there is no other way than this, drinking this cup to the dregs, I'm ready. Do it your way." 43 When he came back, he again found them sound asleep. They simply couldn't keep their eyes open. 44 This time he let them sleep on, and went back a third time to pray, going over the same ground one last time. 45 When he came back the next time, he said, "Are you going to sleep on and make a night of it? My time is up, the Son of Man is about to be handed over to the hands of sinners. 46 Get up! Let's get going! My betrayer is here." 47 The words were barely out of his mouth when Judas (the one from the Twelve) showed up, and with him a gang from the high priests and religious leaders brandishing swords and clubs. 48 The betrayer had worked out a sign with them: "The one I kiss, that's the one - seize him." 49 He went straight to Jesus, greeted him, "How are you, Rabbi?" and kissed him. 50 Jesus said, "Friend, why this charade?" 51 One of those with Jesus pulled his sword and, taking a swing at the Chief Priest's servant, cut off his ear. 52 Jesus said, "Put your sword back where it belongs. All who use swords are destroyed by swords. 53 Don't you realize that I am able right now to call to my Father, and twelve companies - more, if I want them - of fighting angels would be here, battle-ready? 54 But if I did that, how would the Scriptures come true that say this is the way it has to be?" 55 Then Jesus addressed the mob: "What is this - coming out after me with swords and clubs as if I were a dangerous criminal? Day after day I have been sitting in the Temple teaching, and you never so much as lifted a hand against me. 56 You've done it this way to confirm and fulfill the prophetic writings." Then all the disciples cut and ran. 57 The gang that had seized Jesus led him before Caiaphas the Chief Priest, where the religion scholars and leaders had assembled. 58 Peter followed at a safe distance until they got to the Chief Priest's courtyard. Then he slipped in and mingled with the servants, watching to see how things would turn out. 59 The high priests, conspiring with the Jewish Council, tried to cook up charges against Jesus in order to sentence him to death. 60 But even though many stepped up, making up one false accusation after another, nothing was believable. 61 with this: "He said, 'I can tear down this Temple of God and after three days rebuild it.'" 62 The Chief Priest stood up and said, "What do you have to say to the accusation?" 63 Jesus kept silent. Then the Chief Priest said, "I command you by the authority of the living God to say if you are the Messiah, the Son of God." 64 Jesus was curt: "You yourself said it. And that's not all. Soon you'll see it for yourself: The Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Mighty One, Arriving on the clouds of heaven." 65 At that, the Chief Priest lost his temper, ripping his robes, yelling, "He blasphemed! Why do we need witnesses to accuse him? You all heard him blaspheme! 66 Are you going to stand for such blasphemy?" They all said, "Death! That seals his death sentence." 67 Then they were spitting in his face and banging him around. They jeered as they slapped him: 68 "Prophesy, Messiah: Who hit you that time?" Denial in the Courtyard 69 All this time, Peter was sitting out in the courtyard. One servant girl came up to him and said, "You were with Jesus the Galilean." 70 In front of everybody there, he denied it. "I don't know what you're talking about." 71 As he moved over toward the gate, someone else said to the people there, "This man was with Jesus the Nazarene." 72 Again he denied it, salting his denial with an oath: "I swear, I never laid eyes on the man." 73 Shortly after that, some bystanders approached Peter. "You've got to be one of them. Your accent gives you away." 74 Then he got really nervous and swore. "I don't know the man!" 75 Peter remembered what Jesus had said: "Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times." He went out and cried and cried and cried. 1 In the first light of dawn, all the high priests and religious leaders met and put the finishing touches on their plot to kill Jesus. 2 Then they tied him up and paraded him to Pilate, the governor. 3 Judas, the one who betrayed him, realized that Jesus was doomed. Overcome with remorse, he gave back the thirty silver coins to the high priests, 4 saying, "I've sinned. I've betrayed an innocent man." They said, "What do we care? That's your problem!" 5 Judas threw the silver coins into the Temple and left. Then he went out and hung himself. 6 The high priests picked up the silver pieces, but then didn't know what to do with them. "It wouldn't be right to give this - a payment for murder! - as an offering in the Temple." 7 They decided to get rid of it by buying the "Potter's Field" and use it as a burial place for the homeless. 8 That's how the field got called "Murder Meadow," a name that has stuck to this day. 9 Then Jeremiah's words became history: They took the thirty silver pieces, The price of the one priced by some sons of Israel, 10 And they purchased the potter's field. And so they unwittingly followed the divine instructions to the letter. 11 Jesus was placed before the governor, who questioned him: "Are you the 'King of the Jews'?" Jesus said, "If you say so." 12 But when the accusations rained down hot and heavy from the high priests and religious leaders, he said nothing. 13 Pilate asked him, "Do you hear that long list of accusations? Aren't you going to say something?" 14 Jesus kept silence - not a word from his mouth. The governor was impressed, really impressed. 15 It was an old custom during the Feast for the governor to pardon a single prisoner named by the crowd. 16 At the time, they had the infamous Jesus Barabbas in prison. 17 With the crowd before him, Pilate said, "Which prisoner do you want me to pardon: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus the so-called Christ?" 18 He knew it was through sheer spite that they had turned Jesus over to him. 19 While court was still in session, Pilate's wife sent him a message: "Don't get mixed up in judging this noble man. I've just been through a long and troubled night because of a dream about him." 20 Meanwhile, the high priests and religious leaders had talked the crowd into asking for the pardon of Barabbas and the execution of Jesus. 21 The governor asked, "Which of the two do you want me to pardon?" They said, "Barabbas!" 22 "Then what do I do with Jesus, the so-called Christ?" They all shouted, "Nail him to a cross!" 23 He objected, "But for what crime?" But they yelled all the louder, "Nail him to a cross!" 24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere and that a riot was imminent, he took a basin of water and washed his hands in full sight of the crowd, saying, "I'm washing my hands of responsibility for this man's death. From now on, it's in your hands. You're judge and jury." 25 The crowd answered, "We'll take the blame, we and our children after us." 26 Then he pardoned Barabbas. But he had Jesus whipped, and then handed over for crucifixion. 27 The soldiers assigned to the governor took Jesus into the governor's palace and got the entire brigade together for some fun. 28 They stripped him and dressed him in a red toga. 29 They plaited a crown from branches of a thorn bush and set it on his head. They put a stick in his right hand for a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mocking reverence: "Bravo, King of the Jews!" they said. "Bravo!" 30 Then they spit on him and hit him on the head with the stick. 31 When they had had their fun, they took off the toga and put his own clothes back on him. Then they proceeded out to the crucifixion. 32 Along the way they came on a man from Cyrene named Simon and made him carry Jesus' cross. 33 Arriving at Golgotha, the place they call "Skull Hill," 34 they offered him a mild painkiller (a mixture of wine and myrrh), but when he tasted it he wouldn't drink it. 35 After they had finished nailing him to the cross and were waiting for him to die, they whiled away the time by throwing dice for his clothes. 36 37 Above his head they had posted the criminal charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 38 Along with him, they also crucified two criminals, one to his right, the other to his left. 39 People passing along the road jeered, shaking their heads in mock lament: 40 "You bragged that you could tear down the Temple and then rebuild it in three days - so show us your stuff! Save yourself! If you're really God's Son, come down from that cross!" 41 The high priests, along with the religion scholars and leaders, were right there mixing it up with the rest of them, having a great time poking fun at him: 42 "He saved others - he can't save himself! King of Israel, is he? Then let him get down from that cross. We'll all become believers then! 43 He was so sure of God - well, let him rescue his 'Son' now - if he wants him! He did claim to be God's Son, didn't he?" 44 Even the two criminals crucified next to him joined in the mockery. 45 From noon to three, the whole earth was dark. 46 Around mid-afternoon Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" 47 Some bystanders who heard him said, "He's calling for Elijah." 48 One of them ran and got a sponge soaked in sour wine and lifted it on a stick so he could drink. 49 The others joked, "Don't be in such a hurry. Let's see if Elijah comes and saves him." 50 But Jesus, again crying out loudly, breathed his last. 51 At that moment, the Temple curtain was ripped in two, top to bottom. There was an earthquake, and rocks were split in pieces. 52 What's more, tombs were opened up, and many bodies of believers asleep in their graves were raised. 53 (After Jesus' resurrection, they left the tombs, entered the holy city, and appeared to many.) 54 The captain of the guard and those with him, when they saw the earthquake and everything else that was happening, were scared to death. They said, "This has to be the Son of God!" 55 There were also quite a few women watching from a distance, women who had followed Jesus from Galilee in order to serve him. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the Zebedee brothers. 57 Late in the afternoon a wealthy man from Arimathea, a disciple of Jesus, arrived. His name was Joseph. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body. Pilate granted his request. 59 Joseph took the body and wrapped it in clean linens, 60 put it in his own tomb, a new tomb only recently cut into the rock, and rolled a large stone across the entrance. Then he went off. 61 But Mary Magdalene and the other Mary stayed, sitting in plain view of the tomb. 62 After sundown, the high priests and Pharisees arranged a meeting with Pilate. 63 They said, "Sir, we just remembered that that liar announced while he was still alive, 'After three days I will be raised.' 64 We've got to get that tomb sealed until the third day. There's a good chance his disciples will come and steal the corpse and then go around saying, 'He's risen from the dead.' Then we'll be worse off than before, the final deceit surpassing the first." 65 Pilate told them, "You will have a guard. Go ahead and secure it the best you can." 66 So they went out and secured the tomb, sealing the stone and posting guards.
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