As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead.
2"Go into the village over there," he said, "and you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them here. 3If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, 'The Lord needs them,' and he will immediately send them." 4
This was done to fulfill the prophecy,
"Tell the people of Israel, a 'Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey -- even on a donkey's colt.'" b6
The two disciples did as Jesus said.
They brought the animals to him and threw their garments over the colt, and he sat on it. c8
Most of the crowd spread their coats on the road ahead of Jesus, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
He was in the center of the procession, and the crowds all around him were shouting, "Praise God d for the Son of David! Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise God in highest heaven!" e10
The entire city of Jerusalem was stirred as he entered. "Who is this?" they asked.
And the crowds replied, "It's Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee."
Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the merchants and their customers. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the stalls of those selling doves.
He said, "The Scriptures declare, 'My Temple will be called a place of prayer,' but you have turned it into a den of thieves!" f14
The blind and the lame came to him, and he healed them there in the Temple.
The leading priests and the teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the little children in the Temple shouting, "Praise God for the Son of David." But they were indignant
and asked Jesus, "Do you hear what these children are saying?" "Yes," Jesus replied. "Haven't you ever read the Scriptures? For they say, 'You have taught children and infants to give you praise.g"'
Then he returned to Bethany, where he stayed overnight.
In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry,
and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs on it, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, "May you never bear fruit again!" And immediately the fig tree withered up.
The disciples were amazed when they saw this and asked, "How did the fig tree wither so quickly?"
Then Jesus told them, "I assure you, if you have faith and don't doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, 'May God lift you up and throw you into the sea,' and it will happen. 22If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."23
When Jesus returned to the Temple and began teaching, the leading priests and other leaders came up to him. They demanded, "By whose authority did you drive out the merchants from the Temple? h Who gave you such authority?"
24"I'll tell you who gave me the authority to do these things if you answer one question," Jesus replied.
25"Did John's baptism come from heaven or was it merely human?" 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, we'll be mobbed, because the people think he was a prophet."
So they finally replied, "We don't know." And Jesus responded, "Then I won't answer your question either."
28"But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, 'Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.' 29The son answered, 'No, I won't go,' but later he changed his mind and went anyway. 30Then the father told the other son, 'You go,' and he said, 'Yes, sir, I will.' But he didn't go. 31Which of the two was obeying his father?" They replied, "The first, of course." Then Jesus explained his meaning: "I assure you, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do. 32For John the Baptist came and showed you the way to life, and you didn't believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to turn from your sins and believe him."
33"Now listen to this story. A certain landowner 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. 34At the time of the grape harvest he sent his servants to collect his share of the crop. 35But the farmers grabbed his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. 36So the landowner sent a larger group of his servants to collect for him, but the results were the same."
37"Finally, the owner sent his son, thinking, 'Surely they will respect my son.'"
38"But when the farmers saw his son coming, they said to one another, 'Here comes the heir to this estate. Come on, let's kill him and get the estate for ourselves!' 39So they grabbed him, took him out of the vineyard, and murdered him."
40"When the owner of the vineyard returns," Jesus asked, "what do you think he will do to those farmers?"41
The religious leaders replied, "He will put the wicked men to a horrible death and lease the vineyard to others who will give him his share of the crop after each harvest."42
Then Jesus asked them, "Didn't you ever read this in the Scriptures? 'The stone rejected by the builders has now become the cornerstone. This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous to see.' i43What I mean is that the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce the proper fruit. 44Anyone who stumbles over that stone will be broken to pieces, and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.j"45
When the leading priests and Pharisees heard Jesus, they realized he was pointing at them -- that they were the farmers in his story.
They wanted to arrest him, but they were afraid to try because the crowds considered Jesus to be a prophet.
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)