Then Jesus began telling them stories: "A man planted a vineyard, built a wall around it, dug a pit for pressing out the grape juice, and built a lookout tower. Then he leased the vineyard to tenant farmers and moved to another country. 2At grape-picking time he sent one of his servants to collect his share of the crop. 3But the farmers grabbed the servant, beat him up, and sent him back empty-handed.4"The owner then sent another servant, but they beat him over the head and treated him shamefully. 5The next servant he sent was killed. Others who were sent were either beaten or killed, 6until there was only one left -- his son whom he loved dearly. The owner finally sent him, thinking, 'Surely they will respect my son.'7"But the farmers said to one another, 'Here comes the heir to this estate. Let's kill him and get the estate for ourselves!' 8So they grabbed him and murdered him and threw his body out of the vineyard.9"What do you suppose the owner of the vineyard will do?" Jesus asked. "I'll tell you -- he will come and kill them all and lease the vineyard to others. 10Didn't you ever read this in the Scriptures? 'The stone rejected by the builders has now become the cornerstone. 11This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous to see.' a " 12
The Jewish leaders wanted to arrest him for using this illustration because they realized he was pointing at them -- they were the wicked farmers in his story. But they were afraid to touch him because of the crowds. So they left him and went away.
The leaders sent some Pharisees and supporters of Herod to try to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested.
"Teacher," these men said, "we know how honest you are. You are impartial and don't play favorites. You sincerely teach the ways of God. Now tell us -- is it right to pay taxes to the Roman government or not?
Should we pay them, or should we not?" Jesus saw through their hypocrisy and said, "Whom are you trying to fool with your trick questions? Show me a Roman coin, b and I'll tell you." 16
When they handed it to him, he asked, "Whose picture and title are stamped on it?" "Caesar's," they replied.
17"Well, then," Jesus said, "give to Caesar what belongs to him. But everything that belongs to God must be given to God." This reply completely amazed them.
Then the 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 without children, his brother should marry the widow and have a child who will be the brother's heir. c20
Well, there were seven brothers. The oldest of them married and then died without children.
So the second brother married the widow, but soon he too died and left no children. Then the next brother married her and died without children.
This continued until all the brothers had married her and died, and still there were no children. Last of all, the woman died, too.
So tell us, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? For all seven were married to her."
Jesus replied, "Your problem is that you don't know the Scriptures, and you don't know the power of God.25For when the dead rise, they won't be married. They will be like the angels in heaven. 26But now, as to whether the dead will be raised -- haven't you ever read about this in the writings of Moses, in the story of the burning bush? Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, God said to Moses, d 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' e27So he is the God of the living, not the dead. You have made a serious error."28
One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the discussion. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"
Jesus replied, "The most important commandment is this: 'Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. 30And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.' f31The second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' g No other commandment is greater than these."32
The teacher of religious law replied, "Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other.
And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbors as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law."
Realizing this man's understanding, Jesus said to him, "You are not far from the Kingdom of God." And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.
Later, as Jesus was teaching the people in the Temple, he asked, "Why do the teachers of religious law claim that the Messiah will be the son of David? 36For David himself, speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, said, 'The LORD said to my Lord, Sit in honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies beneath your feet.' h37Since David himself called him Lord, how can he be his son at the same time?" And the crowd listened to him with great interest.38
Here are some of the other things he taught them at this time: "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. 39And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and at banquets. 40But 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."41
Jesus went over to the collection box in the Temple and sat and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts.
Then a poor widow came and dropped in two pennies. i43
He called his disciples to him and said, "I assure you, this poor widow has given more than all the others have given. 44For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has."
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)