A wicked messenger falls into trouble,
but a trustworthy envoy brings healing.
Apply this to preaching. Tremble for the preacher who uses his pulpit to preach that the Scriptures are not reliable, waters down the Gospel to a formula of good works, and assures sinners and unbelievers that they have nothing to fear.
Tremble for the preacher who uses his pulpit to preach politics and push his social agenda. Tremble for the preacher who is not faithful in preaching the message of his scripture; who wins a following for his entertaining style and not his substance; who becomes a self-help guru instead of a prophet for God’s Word. Such a messenger will fall into trouble before the God who called him to be a faithful envoy of the Gospel and the full counsel of God found in Scripture.
But the faithful envoy who week after week proclaims God’s Word and makes it clear, such a person truly brings healing to his people who hurt from sin and sinning; who need to hear God speaking to them; who need to hear again and again the Gospel. Real healing comes from God’s Word working in us. So much that comes from pulpits are diversions to take our attention away from our wounds, or they are Band-Aids to make us feel better for awhile, thinking that we have been healed, when the wound is as deep as ever.
21 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.’
4 This took place to fulfil what was spoken through the prophet:
5 ‘Say to Daughter Zion,
“See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”’[a]
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
‘Hosanna[b] to the Son of David!’
‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’[c]
‘Hosanna[d] in the highest heaven!’
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, ‘Who is this?’
11 The crowds answered, ‘This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.’
Jesus at the temple
12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘“My house will be called a house of prayer,”[e] but you are making it “a den of robbers.”[f]’
14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David,’ they were indignant.
16 ‘Do you hear what these children are saying?’ they asked him.
‘Yes,’ replied Jesus, ‘have you never read,
‘“From the lips of children and infants
you, Lord, have called forth your praise”[g]?’
17 And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.
Jesus curses a fig-tree
18 Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig-tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, ‘May you never bear fruit again!’ Immediately the tree withered.
20 When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. ‘How did the fig-tree wither so quickly?’ they asked.
21 Jesus replied, ‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig-tree, but also you can say to this mountain, “Go, throw yourself into the sea,” and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.’
The authority of Jesus questioned
23 Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. ‘By what authority are you doing these things?’ they asked. ‘And who gave you this authority?’
24 Jesus replied, ‘I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25 John’s baptism – where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?’
They discussed it among themselves and said, ‘If we say, “From heaven”, he will ask, “Then why didn’t you believe him?” 26 But if we say, “Of human origin”– we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.’
27 So they answered Jesus, ‘We don’t know.’
Then he said, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
The parable of the two sons
28 ‘What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, “Son, go and work today in the vineyard.”
29 ‘“I will not,” he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
30 ‘Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, “I will, sir,” but he did not go.
31 ‘Which of the two did what his father wanted?’
‘The first,’ they answered.
Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
The parable of the tenants
33 ‘Listen to another parable: there was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall round it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.
35 ‘The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them in the same way. 37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. “They will respect my son,” he said.
38 ‘But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, “This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.” 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
40 ‘Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’
41 ‘He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,’ they replied, ‘and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.’
42 Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the Scriptures:
‘“The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvellous in our eyes”[h]?
43 ‘Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.’[i]
45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46 They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.
The parable of the wedding banquet
22 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.
4 ‘Then he sent some more servants and said, “Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.”
5 ‘But they paid no attention and went off – one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, ill-treated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
8 ‘Then he said to his servants, “The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.” 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 ‘But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, “How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?” The man was speechless.
13 ‘Then the king told the attendants, “Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
14 ‘For many are invited, but few are chosen.’
Paying the poll-tax to Caesar
15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. ‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the poll-tax[j] to Caesar or not?’
18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, ‘You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.’ They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, ‘Whose image is this? And whose inscription?’
21 ‘Caesar’s,’ they replied.
Then he said to them, ‘So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.’
22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.
Marriage at the resurrection
23 That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 24 ‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. 26 The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. 27 Finally, the woman died. 28 Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?’
29 Jesus replied, ‘You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 31 But about the resurrection of the dead – have you not read what God said to you, 32 “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”[k]? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.’
33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.
The greatest commandment
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’
37 Jesus replied: ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”[l] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”[m] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’
Whose son is the Messiah?
41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 ‘What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?’
‘The son of David,’ they replied.
43 He said to them, ‘How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him “Lord”? For he says,
44 ‘“The Lord said to my Lord:
‘Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
under your feet.’”[n]
45 If then David calls him “Lord”, how can he be his son?’ 46 No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.