1.When they came near to Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of His disciples on ahead,
2. saying to them, “Go into the village that is across from you, and there you’ll find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. When you locate them, untie them and bring them to Me.
3. If anyone should object to you taking them, you just need to say, 'The Lord needs them!'. You will have no resistence from anyone to whom you say these words."
4. This happened to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet,
5. “Say to the Zion’s Daughter…the inhabitants of Jerusalem…‘Look at this! Your King is coming to you, riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
6. Then the disciples went and did exactly as Jesus had directed.
7. They brought the donkey and the colt to Jesus, and laid their coats across them, and He seated Himself on the donkey.
8. And the majority of the crowd took a cue from the disciples and began to spread their garments on the road, laying down a sort of community-created red carpet for Him. Others kept cutting branches from the trees and scattering them on the road to make a widespread welcome mat.
9. And the crowds that went ahead of Him, and those that followed along behind Him kept shouting, “Hosanna! Save, Lord! Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heights of the heavenly realm!”
10. By the time He entered the gates of Jerusalem, the excitement created by this whole scenario had escalated to fever-pitch…the entire city seemed to be electrified, and buzzing with one, universal question…“Who in the world is this?
11. And the people who were part of the parade called out to those who asked, “This is the prophet, Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee!”
12. Once inside the city, Jesus went straight into the Temple and just began throwing out anyone and everyone who had set up shop there to buy and/or sell. Without any warning, He started kicking over the tables of the loan sharks, as well as the stalls of dove merchants who profited from selling sacrificial animals.
13. He quoted this text to them: “My house was designated to be a house of prayer; but you have degraded it down to nothing more than a hangout for thieves!”
14. And once this area was cleared out, the blind and the lame came to Him in the porches and courts of the Temple, and at once He seamlessly transitioned from prophetic-warrior mode into that of compassionate healer. As He had driven out every last one of the shady business people with His own hands, so He restored every last one of those who were in need of His healing touch.
15. But when the religious leaders saw the wonderful things that He was doing, and witnessed how the young people, including little boys and girls, were excitedly running through every part of the Temple crying out,“Hosanna to the Son of David!”, they were furious.
16. And so they said to Him, “Do You hear what these out-of-control children are saying?” And Jesus replied to them, “Of course I hear them…have you not read in your own Scriptures, ‘Out of the mouths of the children and even the babies You have provided perfect praise?’”
17. And, having had enough of their predictable protests for the day, He left the city for Bethany, where He spent the night.
18. Early the following morning, as Jesus was returning to the city, He realized that He was hungry.
19. And as He saw one single, leafy fig tree beside the road, He went over to it to find a breakfast of figs, but found nothing but leaves on it. So He said directly to the deceptive-looking tree, “Never again shall fruit grow on you!” And at these words, the fig tree withered right there on the spot, becoming nothing but a dry stick protruding from the ground.
20. The disciples who were walking with Him saw this, and rubbed their eyes in disbelief, saying, "Did we really see what we just saw?! One minute there’s a perfectly healthy tree standing right in front of us, and the next just a dry stick is there!"
21. But Jesus, as usual, was matter-of-fact about the miraculous. He said to them "Look…if you simply embrace this Kingdom life, and don't doubt God, you'll not only be able to perform minor feats like this (I do these kinds of things all the time)…you’ll also easily triumph over huge obstacles, as well. This mountain, for example…you’ll tell it what to do or where to go, just as I told the fig tree what to do, and it will do exactly as you say.
22. In fact, this kind of dominion can become second-nature to you to the point that the power of your intention…or whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith…will enable you to receive that for which you believe.
23. And when He entered the Temple, the ever-vigilant religious leaders came up to Him as He was teaching and asked, “By what power of authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this power of authority?
24. Jesus answered them, “This time I will answer your question with another question, and if you give Me the answer, then I also will tell you by what power of authority I do these things…
25….The baptism of John…from where did it originate? Did it come from heaven or did it come from men?” This immediately set a private meeting among them into motion, in which they said to one another, “Watch out…this is a trick question…if we say that the baptism originated in heaven, He will do doubt ask us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’
26. But if we say, “It is of mere human origin, we’re going to receive so much flack from the people, for they all regard John as a prophet.”
27. So they had no choice but to answer Jesus, “We don’t know.” And He said to them, “Fair enough…so neither will I tell you by what power of authority I do these things.”
28. Then He said, “All right, tell me what you think of this story: A man had two sons, and one day He went up to one of them and said, 'Son, go out for the day and work in the vineyard.'
29. But the son answered, 'I just don't want to.' But later on he changed his mind and went.
30. Then the father gave the same command to the second son, and he answered, 'Sure, dad, I’d be glad to go.'…but, in fact, he never went.
31. I ask you...which of the two sons did what the father asked?" They said, "Well, obviously, the first son." Jesus said, "You are correct…and that’s why I tell you that the crooks and the whores are going to precede you into God's kingdom!
32. See, John came to you showing you the right road to take, but you turned up your pious, religious noses at him. And yet, at the same time, the crooked law-breakers and the women who sell themselves into prostitution somehow believed him. But even though you witnessed this phenomenon…you saw their receptivity, as well as their changed lives…you still didn't care enough to allow for a paradigm shift and believe him for yourselves.
33. And here’s another story to consider: There was a prominent landowner who planted a vineyard, and put a hedge around it, and dug a wine vat in it, and built a watchtower there. Then he rented out the vineyard to some tenants and moved somewhere else.
34. But when it was time to harvest the grapes, he sent his servants back to collect his profits.
35. But the tenants took his servants and beat one of them up, killed another, and stoned yet another.
36. So, again he sent some of his other servants to the vineyard, more even than the first time, and they treated them the very same way.
37. Finally he sent his own son to them, saying, “Surely, they will respect my own son, and not treat him the way that they have treated my servants.”
38. But, as it turned out, when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, “This is the heir to the fortune…let’s kill him so that we can have his inheritance!”
39. And, sure enough, they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him right then and there.
40. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes back, what do you think he’ll do to those horrible, murderous tenants?
41. They said to Him, “Of course he should immediately put them all to a miserable death, and then rent the vineyard to some tenants who will hand over the profits to him when it's time."
42. Jesus said, “Indeed”…then He asked them, “Have you never read in your Scriptures: ‘The very Stone which the builders rejected and threw away has become the Cornerstone…this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?’
43. That’s why I tell you that, for this reason, the Kingdom will be taken away from you, and given to people who will produce the fruits of it by living a Kingdom-life.
44. And whoever stumbles on this Stone will be shattered to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed to powder, scattering him like dust.
45. And when the religious leaders heard His dark, illustrative stories that day, they perceived that He was talking about them.
46. This particularly intense exchange was somewhat of a defining moment for them. At once they were now angrier and more determined than ever to arrest Him…but at the same time they were absolutely intimidated by public opinion. So, for the time being, they held back, because most of the people perceived him to be a prophet of God.