The Gospel according to Matthew

21:1When they got near Jerusalem, they came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus sent out two disciples21:2with these instructions: “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey and her colt hitched. Untie them and bring them to me.21:3If anyone asks you, just tell them ‘The Master needs them’ and they’ll let them go without question.21:4This has to happen in order to fulfill what the prophet declared:21:5‘tell the daughter of Zion, “Look! Your king is coming to you gently, riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the offspring of a beast of burden.”’ ”

21:6The disciples went off and did as Jesus told them.21:7They brought the donkey and colt, then put their outer garments on them so Jesus could sit on them.21:8Then many in the crowd spread out their garments on the road in front of him, while others used tree branches that they had cut off.21:9And both those in front of him and those behind went along saying, “Celebrate the Descendant of David! Blessed is the one bearing the name of the Master! Celebrate in the presence of God!”21:10When he entered Jerusalem, the entire city was shaken. Some asked, “Who is this?”21:11and the crowd answered, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee!”

21:12Then Jesus entered the temple compound and threw out all the merchants and customers there. He overturned the tables of the brokers and the benches of those selling doves,21:13and he said, “It has been written, ‘my house will be called a house of prayer’, but you have turned it into a hideout for robbers!”

21:14The blind and lame came to him in the temple compound, and he healed them.21:15But when the ruling priests and scripture scholars saw the wonderful things he was doing, and when they heard the children there shouting “Celebrate the Descendant of David!”, they were indignant.21:16So they said to Jesus, “Do you hear what these children are saying?”

“Yes,” replied Jesus. “Haven’t you ever read that ‘You have prepared praise to come of the mouths of toddlers and infants’?”21:17And he left them there and went out of the city to spend the night in Bethany.

21:18In the morning he headed back to the city. He was hungry,21:19and along the way he saw a fig tree. But when he got close to it he couldn’t find a single fig on it; there were only leaves. So he said to it, “You will never produce figs again!”1 Instantly the tree dried up,21:20and when the disciples saw it they were surprised and asked, “How did it dry up so fast?”

21:21“Let me assure you of this,” Jesus answered, “If you have faith and don’t doubt, you will be able to do more than I did to this fig tree. You will be able to say to this mountain, ‘Get up and throw yourself into the sea!’, and it will happen.21:22Everything you ask for in prayer, you will have— if you believe.”

21:23When he was teaching in the temple compound, the ruling priests and elders of the people came and demanded, “What authority do you have to do these things? Who gave you jurisdiction?”

21:24“Let me ask you a question,” Jesus replied, “And if you can answer my question, then I’ll answer yours.21:25The immersion of John… was it from heaven or from people?”

They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say ‘From heaven’, he’ll say ‘Then why didn’t you believe?’21:26But if we say ‘From people’, we fear what they’d do to us since they consider him a prophet.”21:27So they finally said, “We don’t know.”

And Jesus retorted, “Then I’m not telling you where I got this authority.

21:28“Here’s something for you to think about: Suppose someone had two children, and he told the first one to go out and work in the vineyard that day.21:29But that one said, ‘No, I don’t want to,’ yet later they felt bad about it and went out anyway.21:30The same question was put to the other one, who said, ‘Yes, sir’ but didn’t go.21:31So which one actually did what the father wanted?”

“The first,” they answered.

And Jesus replied, “I can assure you that tax contractors and the promiscuous will enter the kingdom of God before you do!21:32For John came to you walking the path of righteousness and you did not believe him. But tax contractors and the promiscuous believed him. And even when you saw that, you still didn’t have any regrets and believe him!

21:33“Listen to another object lesson: A certain landowner planted a vineyard, put up a wall around it, dug a wine press, and built a tower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and went traveling abroad.21:34When it came time for the harvest, he sent his slaves to the tenant farmers to get the produce.21:35But they grabbed the slaves and beat up one, killed another, and stoned yet another.21:36So he sent more slaves than before, and they did the same to them.

21:37“Finally he sent his own son, thinking ‘They will respect my son!’21:38But when the tenant farmers saw him they said to each other, ‘This is the heir; come on, let’s kill him, and then we will inherit the vineyard!’21:39So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.21:40Now when the landowner comes, what do you think he’ll do to those tenant farmers?”

21:41“He will wipe out those criminals!” they replied, “And he’ll lease the vineyard to others who will give him his due share of the crop.”

21:42So then Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures, ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.2 The Master has done this, and it is a wonderful thing to see!’?21:43This is why I’m telling you that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation that will give God what belongs to him!”21:4421:45And when they heard this, the ruling priests and Pharisees realized he was talking about them.21:46So they wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowd, who considered him a prophet.

  1. 1Fig trees should bear fruit before the leaves, so if the tree has leaves but no fruit it is barren. According to F. F. Bruce, “When the fig leaves appear about the end of March, they are accompanied by a crop of small knobs that precede the real figs. These are eaten by peasants and others when hungry. They drop off before the real fig is formed. But if the leaves appear alone, there will be no figs that year.” Intervarsity Press, 5th revised edition 1992, pp. 73-74. But why did Jesus curse it? Some see it as a type or foreshadow of Israel rejecting their Messiah.
  2. 2“head of the corner” and “cornerstone” mean the same thing. Some interpret “head of the corner” as a capstone (finishing stone) or keystone (the uppermost stone that holds an arch in place). But the word “corner” contradicts this, and no one would trip over an upper or finishing stone.