Once when Jesus had been out praying, one of his disciples came to him as he finished and said, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples."
He said, "This is how you should pray: "Father, may your name be honored. May your Kingdom come soon. 3Give us our food day by day. 4And forgive us our sins -- just as we forgive those who have sinned against us. And don't let us yield to temptation.a"5
Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this illustration: "Suppose you went to a friend's house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You would say to him, 6'A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.' 7He would call out from his bedroom, 'Don't bother me. The door is locked for the night, and we are all in bed. I can't help you this time.' 8But I tell you this -- though he won't do it as a friend, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you what you want so his reputation won't be damaged. b"
9"And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened. 10For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks."
11"You fathers -- if your children ask c for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? 12Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! 13If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him."14
One day Jesus cast a demon out of a man who couldn't speak, and the man's voice returned to him. The crowd was amazed,
but some said, "No wonder he can cast out demons. He gets his power from Satan, d the prince of demons!"
Trying to test Jesus, others asked for a miraculous sign from heaven to see if he was from God.
He knew their thoughts, so he said, "Any kingdom at war with itself is doomed. A divided home is also doomed. 18You say I am empowered by the prince of demons. e But if Satan is fighting against himself by empowering me to cast out his demons, how can his kingdom survive? 19And if I am empowered by the prince of demons, what about your own followers? They cast out demons, too, so they will judge you for what you have said. 20But if I am casting out demons by the power of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you. 21For when Satan, f who is completely armed, guards his palace, it is safe -- 22until someone who is stronger attacks and overpowers him, strips him of his weapons, and carries off his belongings."
23"Anyone who isn't helping me opposes me, and anyone who isn't working with me is actually working against me."
24"When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, searching for rest. But when it finds none, it says, 'I will return to the person I came from.' 25So it returns and finds that its former home is all swept and clean. 26Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before."27
As he was speaking, a woman in the crowd called out, "God bless your mother -- the womb from which you came, and the breasts that nursed you!"
He replied, "But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice."29
As the crowd pressed in on Jesus, he said, "These are evil times, and this evil generation keeps asking me to show them a miraculous sign. But the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. 30What happened to him was a sign to the people of Nineveh that God had sent him. What happens to me will be a sign that God has sent me, the Son of Man, to these people."
31"The queen of Sheba g will rise up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, because she came from a distant land to hear the wisdom of Solomon. And now someone greater than Solomon is here -- and you refuse to listen to him. 32The people of Nineveh, too, will rise up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah. And now someone greater than Jonah is here -- and you refuse to repent."
33"No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts it under a basket. Instead, it is put on a lampstand to give light to all who enter the room. 34Your eye is a lamp for your body. A pure eye lets sunshine into your soul. But an evil eye shuts out the light and plunges you into darkness. 35Make sure that the light you think you have is not really darkness. 36If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight is shining on you."37
As Jesus was speaking, one of the Pharisees invited him home for a meal. So he went in and took his place at the table.
His host was amazed to see that he sat down to eat without first performing the ceremonial washing required by Jewish custom.
Then the Lord said to him, "You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are still filthy -- full of greed and wickedness! 40Fools! Didn't God make the inside as well as the outside? 41So give to the needy what you greedily possess, and you will be clean all over."
42"But how terrible it will be for you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest part of your income, h but you completely forget about justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but you should not leave undone the more important things."
43"How terrible it will be for you Pharisees! For how you love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the respectful greetings from everyone as you walk through the markets! 44Yes, how terrible it will be for you. For you are like hidden graves in a field. People walk over them without knowing the corruption they are stepping on."45
"Teacher," said an expert in religious law, "you have insulted us, too, in what you just said."
46"Yes," said Jesus, "how terrible it will be for you experts in religious law! For you crush people beneath impossible religious demands, and you never lift a finger to help ease the burden. 47How terrible it will be for you! For you build tombs for the very prophets your ancestors killed long ago. 48Murderers! You agree with your ancestors that what they did was right. You would have done the same yourselves. 49This is what God in his wisdom said about you: i 'I will send prophets and apostles to them, and they will kill some and persecute the others.'"
50"And you of this generation will be held responsible for the murder of all God's prophets from the creation of the world -- 51from the murder of Abel to the murder of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, it will surely be charged against you."
52"How terrible it will be for you experts in religious law! For you hide the key to knowledge from the people. You don't enter the Kingdom yourselves, and you prevent others from entering."53
As Jesus finished speaking, the Pharisees and teachers of religious law were furious. From that time on they grilled him with many hostile questions,
trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)