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Jesus Sends for Ass

(Chapter 21, verses 1-5)

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     (1) When they got to Bethphage, which sits on the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem, Jesus sent out a couple of disciples, (2) instructing them: "Go to that village over there where you'll find an ass tied along with a colt. Untie them, and bring them to me. (3) If anyone says anything, tell him, ‘The Lord needs them,' then he'll immediately send them with you." (4) This happened so the Scripture could be fulfilled where the prophet Zechariah wrote, saying: (5) "Tell Zion's daughter, ‘Notice! Your king is approaching, but not like arrogant kings with a pompous entourage. He's a mild-mannered king, sitting on a humble ass instead of a proud, pedigreed stallion; yes, upon a colt, the offspring of a beast of burden.'"   

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Jesus Enters Jerusalem Upon an Ass

(Chapter 21, verses 6-11)

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     (6) So the disciples left and did just as Jesus instructed. (7) They brought the ass and its colt and put sweater- and coat-like clothes upon them to serve as improvised saddles, and he sat upon them. (8) Most of the crowd spread their own outer garments on the road as if to welcome a dignitary while others got sickles and started cutting down tree branches and spreading them on the road. (9) Some were going ahead of him, shouting: "'Long live the king' we pray, this Son of King David!" Those behind him were saying the same thing: "God bless the man that comes in Yehowah's name! We pray, in the highest heaven, ‘God save the king'!"

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     (10) All this hoopla happened before he even entered Jerusalem so that when he actually got into the city everyone there was in a frenzy, asking each other: "Who is this guy?" (11) Others kept answering: "This is the prophet Jesus, who is from Nazareth of Galilee!"

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Jesus Ejects Moneychangers from Temple

(Chapter 21, verses 12-14)

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     (12) A young, strong, angry Jesus entered the temple and kicked out everyone buying and selling there. He was furious! He grabbed the moneychangers' tables and flipped them right over (money went flying everywhere!); and then he kicked over the benches the dove-sellers were comfortably sitting on. (13) He told them all: "The Hebrew Bible says, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer. But since all of you cheat people, you are effectively converting it into a secret hangout where robbers meet.'" (14) While he was there in the temple the blind and handicapped made their way to him and he cured them.[1]

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Religious Leaders Criticize Jesus

(Chapter 21, verses 15-17)

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     (15) When the religious leaders witnessed Jesus' wonderful works and little boys singing in the temple, "'Long live the king,' we pray, this Son of King David!" they became outraged (16) and asked: "Do you hear what these small boys are saying?" Jesus answered: "Yes, I do. Didn't you men ever read the psalmist's song--David's melody--where it goes, ‘You've caused a beautiful song of praise to come out of the mouths of infants and toddlers'?" (17) Jesus didn't wait for an answer, he just turn and walked away, going out to the nearby city of Bethany where he spent the night.  

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Jesus Sorely Disappointed With Fig Tree

(Chapter 21, verses 18-22)

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     (18) While returning with his disciples on his way back to Jerusalem early the next morning Jesus got hungry. (19) Conveniently, he saw the green-leaved, healthy, robust, bushy-looking fig tree by the road, and expectantly went over to it. He naturally thought that the low-to-the-ground plant would have many hunger-satisfying figs. But, after rummaging through the foliage at the top and bending down to check the lower half of the tree he disappointingly found only leaves. Not one fig! To the deceptive, unproductive tree he said: "You won't disappoint hungry travelers anymore. Your fig-bearing days are over for good." And the fig tree instantly withered. (20) When the disciples with him saw it, they wondered aloud: "How did the healthy, robust fig tree wither so fast?" (21) Jesus answered: "For a certainty, if you have faith with no doubt, not only will you do what I did to the fig tree, but you can tell a mountain, ‘Arise and be hurled into the sea,' and it'll happen. (22) For everything you ask for in prayer, having faith, you'll get.    

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Jesus' "Credentials" Challenged

(Chapter 21, verses 23-27)

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     (23) Now, after he went into the temple and started teaching, two groups of religious leaders (the chief priests and the elders) approached and asked: "What are you doing teaching here? Do you have the proper credentials? And if so, what duly authorized institution issued them?" (24) Jesus replied: "I tell you what, you answer my questions first, then I'll answer yours. (25) Who authorized John to baptize people? Was it by divine appointment, or did he receive credentials from a duly authorized institution to do so?" They huddle up and began deliberating among themselves, saying: "If we say, 'divine appointment,' he'll say, 'Why, then, didn't you believe him?' (26) If we say, 'He received credentials from an institution,' we have the crowds to fear because they believe John was God's prophet, and not just an ordinary educated man." (27) So, in reply to Jesus they said, "We can't answer your question. We don't know." So Jesus said to them: "Well, then, I'm not going to answer yours either."  

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Illustration of the Two Sons Sent Into the Vineyard

(Chapter 21, verses 28-32)

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     (28) [To the religious leaders he asked] "What do you think: a man had two sons. Approaching the first one he said, 'Son, go work on the farm today.' (29) The son said, 'I'll do it, sir,' but didn't. (30) Going to the second he said the same thing, but the second one said, 'No way.' Afterwards, however, he felt bad, and went out anyway. (31) Which of these two did what his father wanted?" They said: "The second." Jesus replied: "I guarantee you, the hated tax collectors and the despised whores are going ahead of you into the kingdom of God. (32) Here's why: John came to you as a righteous man, but you didn't believe him. On the other hand the tax collectors--who you view as betrayers--and the hookers did. And even though you observed their humble belief you still didn't feel any regret and start to believe him."

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Illustration of the Wicked Cultivators

(Chapter 21, verses 33-41)

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     (33) "Listen and learn from another story with a moral," [he said to the religious leaders]: "There was a prosperous business man who planted a grape vineyard, built a wall around it, and dug a hole in the ground to press out juice from the grapes. Wine would be made from this juice. He also built a lookout tower. Finally, he rented the vineyard out to experienced tenant farmers and traveled overseas. (34) When the season came for the grapes to ripen, he sent three slaves to get his share of the crop. That was the agreement. (35) However, the tenant farmers beat up one, killed another, and stoned the other. (36) So he sent other slaves, more this time, but they did the same to these. (37) Finally he sent his very own son, reasoning, 'They'll respect my son.' (38) On recognizing the son the tenant farmers huddled together and said, 'This son of his will inherit everything. Kill him, and we'll get his inheritance!' (39) So they grabbed him, slung him in the vineyard and killed him. (40) Now, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what do you think he'll do with the tenant farmers?" (41) They said: "Because they're wicked men who brutalized and killed he'll brutalize and kill them also, after which he'll get new tenant farmers to rent to; ones who'll give him his fair crop share when the season comes."

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Jesus Foretold Stumbling Stone

(Chapter 21, verses 42-46)

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     (42) Jesus said to the religious leaders: "Since you're supposed to know the Scriptures, didn't you ever read where it says, 'The stone that builders rejected is the very one that has become the chief cornerstone. Yehowah orchestrated this, and it's a beautiful sight'? (43) This is why I'm saying to you, God will take his government away from you and give it to a nation producing the fruitful results he wants to see. (44) That's not all. The person tripping on this stone will shatter ever bone in his body, and the person that the stone falls on will be crushed beyond recognition." (45) Now when the religious leaders--the chief priests and Pharisees--heard and comprehended the word pictures Jesus painted, they realized he was talking about them. (46) They wanted to do him harm because of this but refrained because of the crowds, for the people revered him as a prophet.



[1] Jesus was the young, humble, handsome, miracle-working hero of the people.