Jesus goes into Jerusalem
1Jesus and his 12 disciples were coming near to Jerusalem. They came to the village called Bethphage. They were on the hill called the Mount of Olives. #21:1 Bethphage is a village on the east side of the hill called the Mount of Olives. The Mount of Olives is on the east side of Jerusalem. It is called this because many olive trees grow on it. An olive is a fruit. Jesus sent two of his disciples to go on.
2He said to them, ‘Go into the village that is in front of you. When you arrive there, you will immediately see a donkey tied there with her young donkey. Undo the ropes and bring both the donkeys here to me.’ #21:2 A donkey is like a small horse.
3‘Someone may ask you, “What are you doing?” Then say to him, “The Master needs them. He will send them back to you soon.” ’
4A prophet had spoken a message from God about this long ago. Now it became true.
5‘Say to the people in Jerusalem,
“Look, your king is coming to you.
He does not come like someone who thinks that he is important.
He is riding on a donkey.
Yes, he is riding on a young donkey.” ’
6So the two disciples went to the village. They did everything that Jesus had told them to do. 7They brought the donkey and the young donkey to Jesus. They put their coats on the backs of the donkeys. Then Jesus got up and sat on one of them. 8Many people in the crowd put their coats down on the road. Other people cut branches down from trees. They put these branches down on the road. #21:8 The people did this so that the donkeys could walk on the coats and on the branches. People often did this when they received someone important.
9Many crowds of people went in front of Jesus and other people followed him. All of them were shouting,
‘We praise you, Son of David! God will be good to you!
Great is the king who comes with the authority of the Lord God!
We praise God in heaven above!’
10When Jesus went into Jerusalem, everybody in the city had trouble in their minds. They were asking each other, ‘Who is this man?’
11The people in the crowd replied, ‘This is God's prophet, Jesus. He comes from Nazareth in Galilee.’
Jesus visits God's Great House
12Jesus then went into the yard of God's Great House. People were buying and selling things in the yard there. Jesus made them all leave that place. He pushed over the tables of the men who changed coins. He also pushed over the seats of the men who sold birds. #21:12 God's Great House had a wall round it. Only the priests went into God's Great House. The priests let the people go through the gate in the wall. They came together in a place outside God's Great House. #21:12 The people had to use different money in God's Great House. They had to sell their own money and buy this different money. With this, they could buy special birds and animals to give as gifts to God.
13Jesus spoke to them all. He said, ‘The Bible says, “God's house will be a place where people come together to pray.” But you have changed it into a place where robbers meet.’
14 Blind people went to meet Jesus in the yard of God's Great House. People who could not walk very well also went there. Jesus caused them all to become well. 15The leaders of the priests and teachers of God's Law saw all the powerful things that Jesus did. They also saw children in the yard of God's Great House who were shouting, ‘Welcome! We pray that God will be good to you, Son of David!’ All these things caused the important Jews to become very angry.
16They asked Jesus, ‘Can you hear what these children are saying?’
‘Yes,’ Jesus replied. ‘I am sure that you have read this in the Bible:
“Lord God, babies and children praise you.
You yourself have made that happen.” ’
17Then Jesus left everyone and he went out of Jerusalem. He stayed that night in the village that is called Bethany. #21:17 Bethany was a village near Bethphage, very near to Jerusalem.
Jesus causes a fruit tree to die
18On the next day, early in the morning, Jesus left Bethany to return to Jerusalem. On the way, he was hungry. 19He saw a fig tree near to the road. He went to see if it had fruit on it. But there were only leaves on the tree, and no fruit. Jesus said to the tree, ‘No fruit will ever grow on you again!’ Then, immediately, the tree dried up and it died.
20The disciples saw it happen and they were very surprised. And they asked Jesus, ‘How did the tree die so quickly?’
21Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you this. You must believe in God. You must not have other ideas in your mind. If you believe in God, then you could also do the same thing to this fig tree. You could even say to this mountain, “Move away and throw yourself into the sea!” Then it would really happen. 22So, when you pray to ask God for something, believe in him. Then God will give you whatever you ask for.’
23Then Jesus returned to the yard of God's Great House. While he was teaching the people there, the leaders of the priests and important Jews went to him. They asked him, ‘What authority do you have to do these things? Tell us. Who gave you the authority to do them?’
24Jesus replied, ‘I also will ask you one question. If you tell me the answer, then I will answer your question. I will tell you what authority I have to do these things. 25John baptized people. Did God give him the authority to do this? Or did men tell him to do it?’ Then the Jewish leaders talked to each other about Jesus' question. They said, ‘We could say that God gave John his authority. But if we say that, Jesus will say to us, “Then you should have believed John.” 26But we do not want to say that only men gave John his authority. All the people think that John was a prophet from God. We are afraid that the crowd might attack us.’
27So the Jewish leaders answered Jesus: ‘We do not know who gave John his authority.’
Jesus said to them, ‘You will not answer my question. So I will not tell you what authority I have to do these things.’
Jesus tells a story about two sons
28Jesus said to the Jewish leaders, ‘Tell me what you think about this story. A man had two sons. He went to the older son and said, “Son, go and work in my field today.”
29The older son replied, “I do not want to go and work there today.” But after he had said that, he did go and work in the field.
30The man went to his other son and he said the same thing to him. The second son replied, “Yes, father, I will go.” But then he did not go to work in the field.
31Tell me, which of the man's sons did what his father wanted?’
The Jewish leaders replied, ‘The older son did what his father wanted.’
Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you this. The men who take taxes from people are going into the kingdom of God before you. It is the same with women who are prostitutes. They also are going into the kingdom of God before you. 32John the Baptist came to show you the right way to live. You did not believe him. But the men who take taxes did believe him. Prostitutes also believed him. Even after you saw this, you did not believe him. You did not change the way that you live.’
Jesus tells a story about a farmer
33Then Jesus said again to the Jewish leaders, ‘Listen to another story that I will tell you. There was a man who had his own farm. He planted vines in a garden to grow grapes there. He built a wall round the garden. He dug a hole in the ground where he could press down the grapes to make wine. He also built a tall building to watch over the garden. #21:33 From a tall building, someone could watch for any animals, birds or bad people who came to the farm.
The man then found some farmers to work in the garden for him. Then he went away to another country. 34The time to cut the grapes had nearly arrived. The master sent his servants to speak to the farmers. He wanted them to give him the fruit that was his. 35But the farmers took hold of the servants. They hit one of them with sticks. They killed another one. They threw stones at another servant and killed him. 36So the master sent other servants to go to the farmers. He sent more servants than the first time. But the farmers did the same thing to these servants also. 37After that, the master sent his own son to the farmers. He thought, “The farmers will surely respect my son.”
38The farmers saw the master's son coming. They said to each other, “This is the master's own son. He will receive the garden when our master dies. So, we should kill the son and then the garden will be ours.” 39Then the farmers took hold of the son. They threw him out of the garden and they killed him.’
40Jesus went on to say, ‘One day, the master will return to his garden. What do you think he will do then to those farmers?’
41The Jewish leaders said to Jesus, ‘The master will completely destroy those bad people. Then he will give the garden to other farmers to work in. Those new farmers will give the master the fruit that he should have at the right time.’
42Jesus said to them, ‘I am sure that you have read this in the Bible:
“The builders refused to use a certain stone.
They thought that it had no value.
But now that stone has become the most important stone at the corner of the building.
The Lord God did this.
And we can see that he did something great.”
43I tell you this. Because you do not believe in me, God will take his kingdom away from you. He will give it to people who show that they obey him.
44When a person falls on to that stone, it will break his body into pieces. When that stone falls on top of someone, it will destroy him completely.’ #21:44 Verse 44 is not in all copies of Matthew's book.
45The leaders of the priests and the Pharisees heard what Jesus said in his stories. They knew that he was speaking against them. 46They wanted to take hold of him and put him in prison. But they did not try to do it because they were afraid of the people. The people thought that Jesus was a prophet from God. #21:46 In this story, the master of the field is like God. The vines are like the people, and the farmers are like the leaders of the Jews. The servants that the master sent to the field are like the prophets. The master's son is like Jesus. The Jewish leaders did not believe that Jesus was God's Son. God would kill those who refused Jesus. That is what Jesus was telling them. They understood what Jesus had said. And they were very angry with him. #21:46 Jesus is this special stone. The Jewish leaders did not want to use it.