Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town.
There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was one of the most influential Jews in the Roman tax-collecting business, and he had become very rich.
He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowds.
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree beside the road, so he could watch from there.
When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. "Zacchaeus!" he said. "Quick, come down! For I must be a guest in your home today."6
Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy.
But the crowds were displeased. "He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner," they grumbled.
Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, "I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have overcharged people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!"
Jesus responded, "Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a son of Abraham. 10And I, the Son of Man, have come to seek and save those like him who are lost."11
The crowd was listening to everything Jesus said. And because he was nearing Jerusalem, he told a story to correct the impression that the Kingdom of God would begin right away.
He said, "A nobleman was called away to a distant empire to be crowned king and then return. 13Before he left, he called together ten servants and gave them ten pounds of silver to invest for him while he was gone. 14But his people hated him and sent a delegation after him to say they did not want him to be their king.15"When he returned, the king called in the servants to whom he had given the money. He wanted to find out what they had done with the money and what their profits were. 16The first servant reported a tremendous gain -- ten times as much as the original amount! 17'Well done!' the king exclaimed. 'You are a trustworthy servant. You have been faithful with the little I entrusted to you, so you will be governor of ten cities as your reward.'18"The next servant also reported a good gain -- five times the original amount. 19'Well done!' the king said. 'You can be governor over five cities.'20"But the third servant brought back only the original amount of money and said, 'I hid it and kept it safe. 21I was afraid because you are a hard man to deal with, taking what isn't yours and harvesting crops you didn't plant.'22"'You wicked servant!' the king roared. 'Hard, am I? If you knew so much about me and how tough I am, 23why didn't you deposit the money in the bank so I could at least get some interest on it?' 24Then turning to the others standing nearby, the king ordered, 'Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one who earned the most.'25"'But, master,' they said, 'that servant has enough already!'26"'Yes,' the king replied, 'but to those who use well what they are given, even more will be given. But from those who are unfaithful, even what little they have will be taken away. 27And now about these enemies of mine who didn't want me to be their king -- bring them in and execute them right here in my presence.'"28
After telling this story, Jesus went on toward Jerusalem, walking ahead of his disciples.
As they came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany, on the Mount of Olives, he sent two disciples ahead.
30"Go into that village over there," he told them, "and as you enter it, you will see a colt tied there that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, 'The Lord needs it.'"32
So they went and found the colt, just as Jesus had said.
And sure enough, as they were untying it, the owners asked them, "Why are you untying our colt?"
And the disciples simply replied, "The Lord needs it."
So they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it for him to ride on.
Then the crowds spread out their coats on the road ahead of Jesus.
As they reached the place where the road started down from the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen.
"Bless the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in highest heaven!"
But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, "Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!"
He replied, "If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!"41
But as they came closer to Jerusalem and Jesus saw the city ahead, he began to cry.
42"I wish that even today you would find the way of peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from you. 43Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you. 44They will crush you to the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you have rejected the opportunity God offered you."45
Then Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the merchants from their stalls.
He told them, "The Scriptures declare, 'My Temple will be a place of prayer,' but you have turned it into a den of thieves." 47
After that, he taught daily in the Temple, but the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the other leaders of the people began planning how to kill him.
But they could think of nothing, because all the people hung on every word he said.
One day as Jesus was teaching and preaching the Good News in the Temple, the leading priests and teachers of religious law and other leaders came up to him.
They demanded, "By whose authority did you drive out the merchants from the Temple? Who gave you such authority?"
3"Let me ask you a question first," he replied.
4"Did John's baptism come from heaven, or was it merely human?"5
They talked it over among themselves. "If we say it was from heaven, he will ask why we didn't believe him.
But if we say it was merely human, the people will stone us, because they are convinced he was a prophet."
Finally they replied, "We don't know."
And Jesus responded, "Then I won't answer your question either."9
Now Jesus turned to the people again and told them this story: "A man planted a vineyard, leased it out to tenant farmers, and moved to another country to live for several years. 10At grape-picking time, he sent one of his servants to collect his share of the crop. But the farmers attacked the servant, beat him up, and sent him back empty-handed. 11So the owner sent another servant, but the same thing happened; he was beaten up and treated shamefully, and he went away empty-handed. 12A third man was sent and the same thing happened. He, too, was wounded and chased away.13"'What will I do?' the owner asked himself. 'I know! I'll send my cherished son. Surely they will respect him.'14"But when the farmers saw his son, they said to each other, 'Here comes the heir to this estate. Let's kill him and get the estate for ourselves!' 15So they dragged him out of the vineyard and murdered him. "What do you suppose the owner of the vineyard will do to those farmers?" Jesus asked.
16"I'll tell you -- he will come and kill them all and lease the vineyard to others.""But God forbid that such a thing should ever happen," his listeners protested.17
Jesus looked at them and said, "Then what do the Scriptures mean? 'The stone rejected by the builders has now become the cornerstone.' 18All who stumble over that stone will be broken to pieces, and it will crush anyone on whom it falls."19
When the teachers of religious law and the leading priests heard this story, they wanted to arrest Jesus immediately because they realized he was pointing at them -- that they were the farmers in the story. But they were afraid there would be a riot if they arrested him.
Watching for their opportunity, the leaders sent secret agents pretending to be honest men. They tried to get Jesus to say something that could be reported to the Roman governor so he would arrest Jesus.
They said, "Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right and are not influenced by what others think. You sincerely teach the ways of God.
Now tell us -- is it right to pay taxes to the Roman government or not?"
He saw through their trickery and said,
24"Show me a Roman coin. Whose picture and title are stamped on it?" "Caesar's," they replied.
25"Well then," he said, "give to Caesar what belongs to him. But everything that belongs to God must be given to God." 26
So they failed to trap him in the presence of the people. Instead, they were amazed by his answer, and they were silenced.
Then some Sadducees stepped forward -- a group of Jews who say there is no resurrection after death.
They posed this question: "Teacher, Moses gave us a law that if a man dies, leaving a wife but no children, his brother should marry the widow and have a child who will be the brother's heir.
Well, there were seven brothers. The oldest married and then died without children.
His brother married the widow, but he also died. Still no children.
And so it went, one after the other, until each of the seven had married her and died, leaving no children.
Finally, the woman died, too.
So tell us, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? For all seven were married to her!"
Jesus replied, "Marriage is for people here on earth. 35But that is not the way it will be in the age to come. For those worthy of being raised from the dead won't be married then. 36And they will never die again. In these respects they are like angels. They are children of God raised up to new life. 37But now, as to whether the dead will be raised -- even Moses proved this when he wrote about the burning bush. Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, he referred to the Lord as 'the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' 38So he is the God of the living, not the dead. They are all alive to him."39
"Well said, Teacher!" remarked some of the teachers of religious law who were standing there.
And that ended their questions; no one dared to ask any more.
Then Jesus presented them with a question. "Why is it," he asked, "that the Messiah is said to be the son of David? 42For David himself wrote in the book of Psalms: 'The LORD said to my Lord, Sit in honor at my right hand 43until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet.' 44Since David called him Lord, how can he be his son at the same time?"45
Then, with the crowds listening, he turned to his disciples and said,
46"Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they love to parade in flowing robes and to have everyone bow to them as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and at banquets. 47But they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property, and then, to cover up the kind of people they really are, they make long prayers in public. Because of this, their punishment will be the greater."
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)