Luke 13-24 The Voice (VOICE)
13 As He said this, some people told Him the latest news about a group of Galilean pilgrims in Jerusalem—a group not unlike Jesus’ own entourage. Pilate butchered them while they were at worship, their own blood mingling with the blood of their sacrifices.
Jesus: 2 Do you think these Galileans were somehow being singled out for their sins, that they were worse than any other Galileans, because they suffered this terrible death? 3 Of course not. But listen, if you do not consider God’s ways and truly change, then friends, you should prepare to face His judgment and eternal death.
4 Speaking of current events, you’ve all heard about the 18 people killed in that building accident when the tower in Siloam fell. Were they extraordinarily bad people, worse than anyone else in Jerusalem, so that they would deserve such an untimely death? 5 Of course not. But all the buildings of Jerusalem will come crashing down on you if you don’t wake up and change direction now.
6 (following up with this parable) A man has a fig tree planted in his vineyard. One day he comes out looking for fruit on it, but there are no figs. 7 He says to the vineyard keeper, “Look at this tree. For three years, I’ve come hoping to find some fresh figs, but what do I find? Nothing. So just go ahead and cut it down. Why waste the space with a fruitless tree?”
8 The vineyard keeper replies, “Give it another chance, sir. Give me one more year working with it. I’ll cultivate the soil and heap on some manure to fertilize it. 9 If it surprises us and bears fruit next year, that will be great, but if not, then we’ll cut it down.”
10 Around this time, He was teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath, the Jewish day of rest. 11 A woman there had been sick for 18 years; she was weak, hunched over, and unable to stand up straight. 12-13 Jesus placed His hands on her and suddenly she could stand straight again. She started praising God, 14 but the synagogue official was indignant because Jesus had not kept their Sabbath regulations by performing this healing.
Synagogue Official: Look, there are six other days when it’s appropriate to get work done. Come on those days to be healed, not on the Sabbath!
Jesus: 15 You religious leaders are such hypocrites! Every single one of you unties his ox or donkey from its manger every single Sabbath Day, and then you lead it out to get a drink of water, right? 16 Do you care more about your farm animals than you care about this woman, one of Abraham’s daughters, oppressed by Satan for 18 years? Can’t we untie her from her oppression on the Sabbath?
17 As the impact of His words settled in, His critics were humiliated, but everyone else loved what Jesus said and celebrated everything He was doing.
Jesus (explaining): 18 Do you want to understand the kingdom of God? Do you want Me to tell you what it’s like? 19 It’s like a single mustard seed that someone took and planted in his garden. That tiny seed grew and became a tree so large that the birds could fly in and make their nests in its branches.
20 Do you want Me to tell you what the kingdom of God is like? 21 It’s like some yeast which a woman hid within a huge quantity of flour; soon the whole batch of dough was rising.
22 He was pressing toward Jerusalem, His journey taking Him through various towns and villages. In each one, He taught the people. 23 Once a person asked this question:
Inquiring Individual: Lord, will only a few people be rescued?
Jesus: 24 Strive to enter through the narrow door now, because many people—hear Me on this—will try to enter later on and will not be able to. 25 Imagine you want to enter someone’s home, but you wait until after the homeowner has shut the door. Then you stand outside and bang on the door, and you say, “Sir, please open the door for us!” But he will answer, “I don’t know where you’re from.”
26 Then you’ll say, “Just a minute. We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.” 27 But he’ll say, “Sorry, I have no idea where you’re from. Leave me, all of you evildoers.” 28 Then you’ll see something that will make you cry and grind your teeth together—you’ll see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves will be on the outside looking in.
29 And then you’ll see people streaming in from east and west, from north and south, gathering around the table in the kingdom of God, but you’ll be on the outside looking in. 30 That’s how it will be; some are last now who will be first then, and some are first now who will be last then.
Jesus’ response shows that the Jewish people will be surprised by who enters the kingdom of God. It will not be just the Jews but people from all around the world—east and west, north and south. And they will also be surprised by who does not enter the kingdom, since some Jews will be on the outside looking in.
31 Right then some Pharisees came and warned Him.
Pharisees: You’d better get out of here because Herod is plotting Your murder.
Jesus: 32 You can give that sly fox this message: “Watch as I cast out demons and perform healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I’ll reach My destination. 33 But for today and tomorrow and the next day, I have to continue My journey, for no prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem.”
34 O Jerusalem! O Jerusalem! You kill the prophets and you stone the messengers who are sent to you. How often I wanted to gather in your children as a hen gathers in her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing to come to Me. 35 Look now, your house is abandoned and empty. You won’t see Me until you welcome Me with the words of the psalms, “Anyone who comes in the name of the Eternal One will be blessed!”[a]
14 Another Sabbath Day came and Jesus was invited to an official’s home for a meal. This fellow was a leader of the Pharisees, and Jesus was still under close surveillance by them. 2 Jesus noticed a man suffering from a swelling disorder. 3 He questioned the religious scholars and Pharisees.
Jesus: Is it permitted by traditions and the Hebrew Scriptures to heal people on the Sabbath, or is it forbidden?
4 They didn’t reply. Then Jesus healed the man and sent him on his way.
Jesus: 5 Would any single one of you leave his son[b] or even his ox in a well on the Sabbath if he had fallen into it, or would you pull him out immediately?
6 They still didn’t reply.
7 Then He noticed how the guests were jockeying for places of honor at the dinner, so He gave them advice.
Jesus: 8 Whenever someone invites you to a wedding dinner, don’t sit at the head table. Someone more important than you might also have been invited, 9 and your host will have to humiliate you publicly by telling you to give your seat to the other guest and to go find an open seat in the back of the room. 10 Instead, go and sit in the back of the room. Then your host may find you and say, “My friend! Why are you sitting back here? Come up to this table near the front!” Then you will be publicly honored in front of everyone. 11 Listen, if you lift yourself up, you’ll be put down, but if you humble yourself, you’ll be honored.
12 Jesus still wasn’t finished. Now He turned to the host who had invited Him to this gathering.
Jesus: When you host a dinner or banquet, don’t invite your friends, your brothers, your relatives, or your rich neighbors. If you do, they might invite you to a party of their own, and you’ll be repaid for your kindness. 13 Instead, invite the poor, the amputees, the cripples, the blind. 14 Then you’ll be blessed because they can never repay you. Your reward will come from God at the resurrection of the just and good.
Guest: 15 Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!
Jesus: 16 A man once hosted a huge banquet and invited many guests. 17 When the time came, he sent his servant to tell the guests who had agreed to come, “We’re ready! Come now!” 18 But then every single guest began to make excuses. One said, “Oh, I’m sorry. I just bought some land, and I need to go see it. Please excuse me.” 19 Another said, “So sorry. I just bought five pairs of oxen. I need to go check them out. Please excuse me.” 20 Another said, “I just got married, so I can’t come.”
21 The servant returned and reported their responses to his master. His master was angry and told the servant, “Go out quickly to the streets and alleys around town and bring the poor, the amputees, the blind, and the cripples.”
22 The servant came back again: “Sir, I’ve done as you said, but there is still more room.” 23 And the host said, “Well then, go out to the highways and hedges and bring in the complete strangers you find there, until my house is completely full. 24 One thing is for sure, not one single person on the original guest list shall enjoy this banquet.”
Jesus continues to challenge Jewish ideas about who will be in the kingdom of God and how the Kingdom will work. Those who have been dishonored on earth will be honored in the Kingdom, and those in positions of economic and religious honor here will be dishonored there. He also challenges individuals to reconsider their personal value systems. They should not honor their own lives and family above Christ, but rather give them up for Him.
25 Great crowds joined Him on His journey, and He turned to them.
Jesus: 26 If any of you come to Me without hating your own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, and yes, even your own life, you can’t be My disciple. 27 If you don’t carry your own cross as if to your own execution as you follow Me, you can’t be part of My movement. 28 Just imagine that you want to build a tower. Wouldn’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to be sure you have enough to finish what you start? 29 If you lay the foundation but then can’t afford to finish the tower, everyone will mock you: 30 “Look at that guy who started something that he couldn’t finish!”
31 Or imagine a king gearing up to go to war. Wouldn’t he begin by sitting down with his advisors to determine whether his 10,000 troops could defeat the opponent’s 20,000 troops? 32 If not, he’ll send a peace delegation quickly and negotiate a peace treaty. 33 In the same way, if you want to be My disciple, it will cost you everything. Don’t underestimate that cost!
34 Don’t be like salt that has lost its taste. How can its saltiness be restored? Flavorless salt is absolutely worthless. 35 You can’t even use it as fertilizer, so it’s worth less than manure! Don’t just listen to My words here. Get the deeper meaning.
15 Jesus became increasingly popular among notorious sinners—tax collectors and other social outcasts. 2 The Pharisees and religious scholars noticed this.
Pharisees and Religious Scholars: This man welcomes immoral people and enjoys their company over a meal!
Jesus (with another parable): 3-4 Wouldn’t every single one of you, if you have 100 sheep and lose one, leave the 99 in their grazing lands and go out searching for the lost sheep until you find it? 5 When you find the lost sheep, wouldn’t you hoist it up on your shoulders, feeling wonderful? 6 And when you go home, wouldn’t you call together your friends and neighbors? Wouldn’t you say, “Come over and celebrate with me, because I’ve found my lost sheep”? 7 This is how it is in heaven. They’re happier over one sinner who changes his way of life than they are over 99 good and just people who don’t need to change their ways of life.
8 Or imagine a woman who has 10 silver coins. She loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the whole house, and search diligently until that coin is found? 9 And when she finds it, doesn’t she invite her friends and neighbors and say, “Celebrate with me! I’ve found that silver coin that I lost”? 10 Can’t you understand? There is joy in the presence of all God’s messengers over even one sinner who changes his way of life.
11 Once there was this man who had two sons. 12 One day the younger son came to his father and said, “Father, eventually I’m going to inherit my share of your estate. Rather than waiting until you die, I want you to give me my share now.” And so the father liquidated assets and divided them. 13 A few days passed and this younger son gathered all his wealth and set off on a journey to a distant land. Once there he wasted everything he owned on wild living. 14 He was broke, a terrible famine struck that land, and he felt desperately hungry and in need. 15 He got a job with one of the locals, who sent him into the fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man felt so miserably hungry that he wished he could eat the slop the pigs were eating. Nobody gave him anything.
17 So he had this moment of self-reflection: “What am I doing here? Back home, my father’s hired servants have plenty of food. Why am I here starving to death? 18 I’ll get up and return to my father, and I’ll say, ‘Father, I have done wrong—wrong against God and against you. 19 I have forfeited any right to be treated like your son, but I’m wondering if you’d treat me as one of your hired servants?’” 20 So he got up and returned to his father. The father looked off in the distance and saw the young man returning. He felt compassion for his son and ran out to him, enfolded him in an embrace, and kissed him.
21 The son said, “Father, I have done a terrible wrong in God’s sight and in your sight too. I have forfeited any right to be treated as your son.”
22 But the father turned to his servants and said, “Quick! Bring the best robe we have and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet. 23 Go get the fattest calf and butcher it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate 24 because my son was dead and is alive again. He was lost and has been found.” So they had this huge party.
25 Now the man’s older son was still out in the fields working. He came home at the end of the day and heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the servants and asked what was going on. 27 The servant said, “Your brother has returned, and your father has butchered the fattest calf to celebrate his safe return.”
28 The older brother got really angry and refused to come inside, so his father came out and pleaded with him to join the celebration. 29 But he argued back, “Listen, all these years I’ve worked hard for you. I’ve never disobeyed one of your orders. But how many times have you even given me a little goat to roast for a party with my friends? Not once! This is not fair! 30 So this son of yours comes, this wasteful delinquent who has spent your hard-earned wealth on loose women, and what do you do? You butcher the fattest calf from our herd!”
31 The father replied, “My son, you are always with me, and all I have is yours. 32 Isn’t it right to join in the celebration and be happy? This is your brother we’re talking about. He was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found again!”
The parable ends. Jesus never reveals how it came out. Did the older brother join the party and reconcile with his younger, wayward brother? Or did he stay outside, fuming over the seeming injustice of his father’s extravagant love? The story remains unresolved because it is, in fact, an invitation—an invitation to the Pharisees and other opponents of Jesus to join Him in welcoming sinners and other outsiders into the joyful party of the Kingdom.
16 Here’s a parable He told the disciples:
Jesus: Once there was a rich and powerful man who had an asset manager. One day, the man received word that his asset manager was squandering his assets.
2 The rich man brought in the asset manager and said, “You’ve been accused of wrongdoing. I want a full and accurate accounting of all your financial transactions because you are really close to being fired.”
3 The manager said to himself, “Oh, no! Now what am I going to do? I’m going to lose my job here, and I’m too weak to dig ditches and too proud to beg. 4 I have an idea. This plan will mean that I have a lot of hospitable friends when I get fired.”
5 So the asset manager set up appointments with each person who owed his master money. He said to the first debtor, “How much do you owe my boss?” 6 The debtor replied, “A hundred barrels[c] of oil.” The manager said, “I’m discounting your bill by half. Just write 50 on this contract.” 7 Then he said to the second debtor, “How much do you owe?” This fellow said, “A hundred bales[d] of wheat.” The manager said, “I’m discounting your debt by 20 percent. Just write down 80 bales on this contract.”
8 When the manager’s boss realized what he had done, he congratulated him for at least being clever. That’s how it is: those attuned to this evil age are more clever in dealing with their affairs than the enlightened are in dealing with their affairs!
9 Learn some lessons from this crooked but clever asset manager. Realize that the purpose of money is to strengthen friendships, to provide opportunities for being generous and kind. Eventually money will be useless to you—but if you use it generously to serve others, you will be welcomed joyfully into your eternal destination.
10 If you’re faithful in small-scale matters, you’ll be faithful with far bigger responsibilities. If you’re crooked in small responsibilities, you’ll be no different in bigger things. 11 If you can’t even handle a small thing like money, who’s going to entrust you with spiritual riches that really matter? 12 If you don’t manage well someone else’s assets that are entrusted to you, who’s going to give over to you important spiritual and personal relationships to manage?
13 Imagine you’re a servant and you have two masters giving you orders. What are you going to do when they have conflicting demands? You can’t serve both, so you’ll either hate the first and love the second, or you’ll faithfully serve the first and despise the second. One master is God and the other is money. You can’t serve them both.
14 The Pharisees overheard all this, and they started mocking Jesus because they really loved money.
Jesus (to the Pharisees): 15 You’ve made your choice. Your ambition is to look good in front of other people, not God. But God sees through to your hearts. He values things differently from you. The goals you and your peers are reaching for God detests.
16 The law and the prophets had their role until the coming of John the Baptist. Since John’s arrival, the good news of the kingdom of God has been taught while people are clamoring to enter it. 17 That’s not to say that God’s rules for living are useless. The stars in the sky and the earth beneath your feet will pass away before one letter of God’s rules for living become worthless.
18 Take God’s rules regarding marriage for example. If a man divorces his wife and marries somebody else, then it’s still adultery because that man has broken his vow to God. And if a man marries a woman divorced from her husband, he’s committing adultery for the same reason.
19 There was this rich man who had everything—purple clothing of fine quality and high fashion, gourmet meals every day, and a large house. 20 Just outside his front gate lay this poor homeless fellow named Lazarus. Lazarus was covered in ugly skin lesions. 21 He was so hungry he wished he could scavenge scraps from the rich man’s trash. Dogs would come and lick the sores on his skin. 22 The poor fellow died and was carried on the arms of the heavenly messengers to the embrace of Abraham. Then the rich fellow died and was buried 23 and found himself in the place of the dead. In his torment, he looked up, and off in the distance he saw Abraham, with Lazarus in his embrace.
24 He shouted out, “Father Abraham! Please show me mercy! Would you send that beggar Lazarus to dip his fingertip in water and cool my tongue? These flames are hot, and I’m in agony!”
25 But Abraham said, “Son, you seem to be forgetting something: your life was full to overflowing with comforts and pleasures, and the life of Lazarus was just as full with suffering and pain. So now is his time of comfort, and now is your time of agony. 26 Besides, a great canyon separates you and us. Nobody can cross over from our side to yours, or from your side to ours.”
27 “Please, Father Abraham, I beg you,” the formerly rich man continued, “send Lazarus to my father’s house. 28 I have five brothers there, and they’re on the same path I was on. If Lazarus warns them, they’ll choose another path and won’t end up here in torment.”
29 But Abraham said, “Why send Lazarus? They already have the law of Moses and the writings of the prophets to instruct them. Let your brothers hear them.”
30 “No, Father Abraham,” he said, “they’re already ignoring the law and the prophets. But if someone came back from the dead, then they’d listen for sure; then they’d change their way of life.”
31 Abraham answered, “If they’re not listening to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be convinced even if someone comes back from the dead.”
The theme of money and wealth has come up again and again. It’s what really motivates the Pharisees, it turns out. Money might be God’s top competitor. In the previous parable, Jesus turns the tables. The rich man, who represents what most people wish they could become, turns out to be the one who is hopeless in God’s judgment; he is rich in possessions but poor in compassion, and compassion is what God measures, not wealth. The kingdom of God, Jesus is making clear, calls rich people to stop working to increase their personal wealth portfolio; instead, it challenges them to join God by using their wealth and power on behalf of the poor.
17 Jesus (to His disciples): You can’t stop temptations to do wrong from coming. But how tragic it will be for the person who becomes the source of the temptation! 2 It would be better if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
3 So each of you needs to be careful. If your brother sins [against you],[e] confront him about it, and if he has a change of mind and heart, then forgive him. 4 Even if he wrongs you seven times in a single day, if he turns back to you each time and says he’s sorry and will change, you must forgive him.
The Lord’s Emissaries: 5 We don’t have enough faith for this! Help our faith to grow!
Jesus (pointing to a nearby mulberry tree): 6 It’s not like you need a huge amount of faith. If you just had faith the size of a single, tiny mustard seed, you could say to this huge tree, “Pull up your roots and replant yourself in the sea,” and it would fly through the sky and do what you said. So even a little faith can accomplish the seemingly impossible.
7 Imagine this scenario. You have a servant—say he’s been out plowing a field or taking care of the sheep—and he comes in hot and sweaty from his work. Are you going to say, “You poor thing! Come in and sit down right away”? Of course not! 8 Wouldn’t you be more likely to say, “First, cook my supper and set the table, and then after I’ve eaten, you can get something to eat and drink for yourself”? 9 And after your servant has done everything you told him to do, are you going to make a big deal about it and thank him? [I don’t think so!][f] 10 Now apply this situation to yourselves. When you’ve done everything I’m telling you to do, just say, “We’re servants, unworthy of extra consideration or thanks; we’re just doing our duty.”
11 Jesus was still pressing toward Jerusalem, taking a road that went along the border between Samaria (considered undesirable territory) and Galilee. 12 On the outskirts of a border town along this road, He was greeted from a distance by a group of 10 people who were under quarantine because of an ugly and disgusting skin disease known as leprosy.
Lepers (shouting across the distance): 13 Jesus, Master, show mercy to us!
Jesus: 14 Go now and present yourselves to the priests for inspection of your disease.
They went, and before they reached the priests, their skin disease was healed, leaving no trace of the disease that scarred them and separated them from the community.
15 One of them, the instant he realized he had been healed, turned and ran back to Jesus, shouting praises to God. 16 He prostrated himself facedown at Jesus’ feet.
Leper: Thank You! Thank You!
Now this fellow happened to be, not a Jew, but a Samaritan.
Jesus: 17 Didn’t all ten receive the same healing this fellow did? Where are the other nine? 18 Was the only one who came back to give God praise an outsider? 19 (to the Samaritan man) Get up, and go your way. Your faith has made you healthy again.
20 Some Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God would come.
Jesus: The kingdom of God comes—but not with signs that you can observe. 21 People are not going to say, “Look! Here it is!” They’re not going to say, “Look! It’s over there!” You want to see the kingdom of God? The kingdom of God is already here among you.
22 (to His disciples) Days are coming when you will wish you could see just one of the days of the Son of Man, but you won’t see it. 23 People will say, “Look, it’s there!” or “Look! It’s here!” Don’t even bother looking. Don’t follow their lead. 24 You know how lightning flashes across the sky, bringing light from one horizon to the other. That’s how the Son of Man will be when His time comes.
25 But first, He must face many sufferings. He must be rejected by this generation. 26 The days of the Son of Man will be like the days of Noah. 27 People were eating, drinking, marrying, and being given in marriage. Everything seemed completely normal until the day Noah entered the ark. Then it started raining, and soon they were all destroyed by the flood.
28 It was just the same in the days of Lot. People were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building, and carrying on business as usual. 29 But then came the day when Lot left Sodom—a different kind of rain began to fall, and they were all destroyed by fire and sulfur falling from the sky.[g] 30 That’s how it will be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.
Since people are easily distracted, Jesus says that they shouldn’t get so caught up in the routines of daily life that they forget to remain faithful to Him.
31 When that day comes, if you’re on the housetop, don’t run inside to try to save any of your belongings. If you’re in the field, don’t bother running back to the house. 32 Remember Lot’s wife. Turning back is fatal for those who do so. 33 If you try to hold on to your life, it will slip through your fingers; if you let go of your life, you’ll keep it. 34 Listen, on the day of the Son of Man, two people will be asleep in bed; destruction will take one and the other will be left to survive. 35 Two women will be grinding grain together; destruction will take one and the other will survive. [36 Two men will be working out in the field; destruction will overtake one and the other will survive.][h]
Disciples: 37 Where, Lord?
Jesus: Where vultures circle over rotting corpses.
18 He told them a parable, urging them to keep praying and never grow discouraged. The parable went like this:
Jesus: 2 There was a judge living in a certain city. He showed no respect for God or humanity. 3 In that same city there was a widow. Again and again she kept coming to him seeking justice: “Clear my name from my adversary’s false accusations!” 4 He paid no attention to her request for a while, but then he said to himself, “I don’t care about what God thinks of me, much less what any mere human thinks. 5 But this widow is driving me crazy. She’s never going to quit coming to see me unless I hear her case and provide her legal protection.”
6 Did you catch what this self-assured judge said? 7 If he can be moved to act justly, won’t God bring justice for His chosen people when they cry to Him day and night? Will He be slow to bring them justice? 8 Mark My words: God will intervene fast with vindication. But here’s the question: when the Son of Man comes, will He find anyone who still has faith?
Jesus emphasizes that the kingdom of God will not come through valiant efforts but as people pray, “may Your kingdom come,” with persistence and with humility.
9 He told another parable—this one addressed to people who were confident in their self-righteousness and looked down on other people with disgust.
Jesus: 10 Imagine two men walking up a road, going to the temple to pray. One of them is a Pharisee and the other is a despised tax collector. 11 Once inside the temple, the Pharisee stands up and prays this prayer in honor of himself: “God, how I thank You that I am not on the same level as other people—crooks, cheaters, the sexually immoral—like this tax collector over here. 12 Just look at me! I fast not once but twice a week, and I faithfully pay my tithes on every penny of income.” 13 Over in the corner, the tax collector begins to pray, but he won’t even lift his eyes to heaven. He pounds on his chest in sorrow and says, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”
14 Now imagine these two men walking back down the road to their homes. Listen, it’s the tax collector who walks home clean before God, and not the Pharisee, because whoever lifts himself up will be put down and whoever takes a humble place will be lifted up.
15 Some people brought infants to Jesus, hoping He would touch them in blessing. The disciples rebuked them for doing so, 16 but Jesus called to the people.
Jesus: Let the little children come to Me. Never hinder them! Don’t you realize—the kingdom of God belongs to those who are like children? 17 You can depend on this: if you don’t receive the Kingdom as a child would, you won’t enter it at all.
Public Official: 18 Good Teacher, what do I need to do to inherit the life of the age to come?
Jesus: 19 Why did you just call Me good? No one is good but God—only God. 20 You know what the Hebrew Scriptures command: “Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honor your father and mother.”[i]
Public Official: 21 I’ve already been doing these things—since I came of age.
Jesus: 22 One thing you still lack—one thing; sell all your possessions and distribute the proceeds to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven. Then you can come and follow Me.
23 The man heard these words and sadness came over his face, for his wealth was considerable.
Jesus: 24 What a hard thing it is for those with much wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25 In fact, it would be easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than it would be for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God!
Listeners: 26 Then who can be liberated?
Jesus: 27 Remember, what is humanly impossible is possible with God.
Peter: 28 We have left our homes and followed You.
Jesus: 29 I’m telling you the truth: there is nobody who leaves his house or wife or siblings or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 who will not receive more than he has given up—much more—in this age and in the age to come. He will receive eternal life.
31 He took the twelve aside and spoke privately to them.
Jesus: Look, my friends, we are going up to Jerusalem. Everything the prophets have written about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. 32 He will be handed over to the outsiders. They will mock Him, disgrace Him, and spit on Him; 33 they will scourge Him, and they will kill Him. And on the third day, He will rise from death.
34 But they had no comprehension of what He was talking about. The meaning was hidden from them, and they couldn’t grasp it.
35 Picture this:
Jesus is nearing the city of Jericho. A blind man is sitting there, begging by the roadside. 36 He can hear the sounds of the crowd accompanying Jesus, and he asks what’s going on.
Crowd: 37 Jesus of Nazareth is passing this way.
38 Then the man starts shouting.
Blind Man: Jesus, Son of King David, show mercy to me!
39 The people in the front of the crowd reprimand him and tell him to be quiet, but he just shouts louder.
Blind Man: Son of King David, show mercy to me!
40 Jesus stops and tells the people to bring the man over to Him. The man stands in front of Jesus.
Jesus: 41 What do you want Me to do for you?
Blind Man: Lord, let me receive my sight.
Jesus: 42 Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.
43 At that very instant, the man is able to see. He begins following Jesus, shouting praises to God; and everyone in the crowd, when they see what has happened, starts praising God too.
19 Jesus enters Jericho and seems only to be passing through. 2 Living in Jericho is a man named Zaccheus. He’s the head tax collector and is very rich. 3 He is also very short. He wants to see Jesus as He passes through the center of town, but he can’t get a glimpse because the crowd blocks his view. 4 So he runs ahead of the crowd and climbs up into a sycamore tree so he can see Jesus when He passes beneath him.
5 Jesus comes along and looks up into the tree[, and there He sees Zaccheus].[j]
Jesus: Zaccheus, hurry down from that tree because I need to stay at your house tonight.
6 Zaccheus scrambles down and joyfully brings Jesus back to his house. 7 Now the crowd sees this, and they’re upset.
Crowd (grumbling): Jesus has become the houseguest of this fellow who is a notorious sinner.
Zaccheus: 8 Lord, I am giving half of my goods to the poor, and whomever I have cheated I will pay back four times what I took.
Jesus: 9 Today liberation has come to this house, since even Zaccheus is living as a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to liberate the lost.
11 The crowd has been listening to all this, and everyone assumes that the kingdom of God is going to appear at any moment, since He’s nearing Jerusalem. So He tells them this parable:
Jesus: 12 A ruler once planned a journey to a distant country to take the throne of that country and then return home. 13 Before his departure, he called 10 of his servants and gave them each about three months of wages.[k] “Use this money to buy and sell until I return.” 14 After he departed, the people under his rule despised him and sent messengers with a clear message: “We do not want this man to rule over us.”
15 He successfully assumed kingship of the distant country and returned home. He called his 10 servants together and told them to give an account of their success in doing business with the money he had entrusted to them.
16 The first came before him and said, “Lord, I have made 10 times the amount you entrusted to me.” 17 The ruler replied, “Well done! You’re a good servant indeed! Since you have been faithful in handling a small amount of money, I’ll entrust you with authority over 10 cities in my new kingdom.”
18 The second came and said, “Lord, I’ve made five times the original amount.” 19 The ruler replied, “I’ll entrust you with authority over five cities.”
20 A third came and said, “Lord, I have successfully preserved the money you gave me. I wrapped it up in a napkin and hid it away 21 because I was afraid of you. After all, you’re a tough man. You have a way of taking a profit without making an investment and harvesting when you didn’t plant any seed.”
22 The ruler replied, “I will condemn you using your very own words, you worthless servant! So I’m a severe man, am I? So I take a profit without making an investment and harvest without planting seed? 23 Then why didn’t you invest my money in the bank so I could have at least gained some interest on it?” 24 The ruler told the onlookers, “Take the money I gave him, and give it to the one who multiplied my investment by 10.”
It is common to speculate about when the kingdom of God will fully arrive. But Jesus, through the previous parable, makes it clear that such speculation is a waste of time. Instead, people should be busy investing their lives in the kingdom of God. Earlier, in His encounter with the rich young ruler, Jesus invited the man to stop collaborating with the Roman Empire for his own benefit and to switch sides—so he could start working with the kingdom of God for the sake of the poor. The man refused; but soon after, a man named Zaccheus volunteered to do that very thing: to stop working for his own wealth by collaborating with Caesar’s kingdom and to start working for justice for the poor by collaborating with God’s kingdom. Speculation about the dates and times of the coming of the Kingdom can obscure the point—believers should live, starting now, in the way of the Kingdom.
25 Then the onlookers replied, “Lord, he already has 10 times the original amount!”
26 The ruler responded, “Listen, whoever has some will be given more, and whoever doesn’t have anything will lose what he thinks he has. 27 And these enemies of mine who didn’t want me to rule over them—bring them here and execute them in my presence.”
28 When He finished the parable, He pushed onward, climbing the steep hills toward Jerusalem.
29 He approached the towns of Bethphage and Bethany, which are near Mount Olivet. He sent two of the disciples ahead.
Jesus: 30 Go to the next village. When you enter, you will find a colt tied—a colt that has never been ridden before. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you why you’re untying it, just say, “The Lord needs it.”
32 So the two disciples found things just as He had told them. 33 When its owners did indeed ask why they were untying the colt, 34 the disciples answered as they had been instructed.
Disciples: The Lord needs it.
35 They brought the colt to Jesus, threw their coats on the colt’s back, and then sat Jesus on it. 36 As Jesus rode along, some people began to spread their garments on the road as a carpet. 37 When they passed the crest of Mount Olivet and began descending toward Jerusalem, a huge crowd of disciples began to celebrate and praise God with loud shouts, glorifying God for the mighty works they had witnessed.
Crowd of Disciples: 38 The King who comes in the name of the Eternal One is blessed![l]
Peace in heaven! Glory in the highest!
Pharisees (who were in the crowd): 39 Teacher, tell these people to stop making these wild claims and acting this way!
Jesus: 40 Listen—if they were silent, the very rocks would start to shout!
41 When Jerusalem came into view, He looked intently at the city and began to weep.
Jesus: 42 How I wish you knew today what would bring peace! But you can’t see. 43 Days will come when your enemies will build up a siege ramp, and you will be surrounded and contained on every side.[m] 44 Your enemies will smash you into rubble and not leave one stone standing on another, and they will cut your children down too, because you did not recognize the day when God’s Anointed One visited you.
In this powerful scene as Jesus comes into the city, echoing the words of Zechariah 9:9, Jesus shows how His kingdom is upside down compared to the kingdoms of this world. Caesar enters a town riding a white stallion, accompanied by dignitaries and soldiers with weapons. Jesus comes on a little donkey, cheered by common people tossing their coats in the donkey’s path. The contrast between the two ways, He suggests through tears, is the difference between violent destruction and peace.
45 He entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. He began driving out the temple merchants.
47 He came back day after day to teach in the temple. The chief priests, the religious scholars, and the leading men of the city wanted to kill Him, 48 but because He was so popular among the people—who hung upon each word He spoke—they were unable to do anything.
20 One day when He was teaching the people in the temple and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests, religious scholars, and elders came up and questioned Him.
Elders: 2 Tell us by what authority You march into the temple and disrupt our worship. Who gave You this authority?
Jesus: 3 Let Me ask you a question first. Tell Me this: 4 was the ritual cleansing of baptism John did from God, or was it merely a human thing?
Chief Priests, Religious Scholars, and Elders (conferring together): 5 If we say it was from God, then He’ll ask us why we didn’t believe John. 6 If we say it was merely human, all the people will stone us because they are convinced that John was a true prophet.
7 So they said they didn’t know where John’s ritual washing came from.
Jesus: 8 Well then, if you won’t answer My question, I won’t tell you by what authority I have acted.
9 He told the people another parable:
Jesus: A man planted a vineyard. He rented it to tenants and went for a long trip to another country. 10 At the harvest time, he sent a servant to the tenants so he could be paid his share of the vineyard’s fruit, but the tenants beat the servant and sent him away empty-handed. 11 The man sent another servant, and they beat him and treated him disgracefully and sent him away empty-handed too. 12 He sent a third servant who was injured and thrown out. 13 Then the vineyard owner said, “Now what am I going to do? I’ll send my much-loved son. They should treat him with respect.”
14 But when the tenants recognized the owner’s son, they said, “Here’s our chance to actually own this vineyard! Let’s kill the owner’s heir so we can claim this place as our own!” 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and murdered him. What do you think the owner will do to these scoundrels?
16 I’ll tell you what he’ll do; he’ll come and wipe those tenants out, and he’ll give the vineyard to others.
Crowd: No! God forbid that this should happen!
Jesus: 17 Why then do the Hebrew Scriptures contain these words:
The stone that the builders rejected
18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to fragments, and if that stone falls on anyone, he will be ground to dust.
19 That was the last straw for the religious scholars and the chief priests; they were ready to attack Him right then and there. But they couldn’t for fear of public opinion, and they realized that Jesus, through this parable, had exposed their violent intentions.
Since they can’t use overt violence against Him, they develop a covert plan.
20 They would keep Him under constant surveillance. They would send spies, pretending to ask sincere questions, listening for something they could seize upon that would justify His arrest and condemnation under the governor’s authority.
In addition to the Pharisees, there is a religious sect in Roman-occupied Israel called the Sadducees. They are religious conservatives holding to an ancient tradition in Judaism that doesn’t believe in an afterlife. Their disbelief in an afterlife seems to make them conclude, “There’s only one life, and this is it, so you’d better play it safe.” That means they are very happy to collaborate with the Romans—and make a healthy profit—rather than risk any kind of rebellion or revolt. For this reason, they are closely allied with another group called the Herodians, allies of Caesar’s puppet king Herod. Their contemporaries, the Pharisees, who believe in an afterlife, are more prone to risk their lives in a rebellion since they hope martyrs will be rewarded with resurrection. For this reason, the Pharisees are closely allied with the Zealots, who are more overtly revolutionary. Each group tries to trap Jesus, but He turns the tables on them, using each encounter to shed more light on the message of the kingdom of God. In case after case, Jesus brings His hearers to the heart of the matter; and again and again, the bottom-line issue is money.
Chief Priests, Religious Scholars, and Elders: 21 Teacher, we respect You because You speak and teach only what is right, You show no partiality to anyone, and You truly teach the way of God. 22 So—is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar’s occupying regime, or should we refuse?
23 He saw through their transparent trick.
Jesus: [Why are you trying to trick Me?][q] 24 Show Me a coin. Whose image and name are on this coin?
Chief Priests, Religious Scholars, and Elders: Caesar’s.
Jesus: 25 Well then, you should give to Caesar whatever is Caesar’s, and you should give to God whatever is God’s.
26 Once again they failed to humiliate Him in public or catch Him in a punishable offense. They were confounded by His reply and couldn’t say anything in response.
27 Another group came to test Him—this time from the Sadducees, a rival party of the Pharisees, who believe that there is no resurrection.
Sadducees: 28 Teacher, Moses wrote in the Hebrew Scriptures that a man must marry his brother’s wife and the new couple should bear children for his brother if his brother dies without heirs.[r] 29 Well, once there were seven brothers, and the first took a wife and then died without fathering children. 30 The second [took her as his wife and then he died childless,][s] 31 and then the third, and so on through the seven. They all died leaving no children. 32 Finally the woman died too. 33 Here’s our question: in the resurrection, whose wife will she be, since all seven had her for a while? Will she be the wife of seven men at once?
Jesus: 34 The children of this era marry and are given in marriage, 35 but those who are considered worthy to attain the resurrection of the dead in the coming era do not marry and are not given in marriage. 36 They are beyond mortality; they are on the level of heavenly messengers; they are children of God and children of the resurrection. 37 Since you brought up the issue of resurrection, even Moses made clear in the passage about the burning bush that the dead are, in fact, raised. After all, he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.[t] 38 By Moses’ time, they were all dead, but God isn’t God of the dead, but of the living. So all live to God.
Religious Scholars: 39 Teacher, that was a good answer.
40 After this no one had the courage to ask Him any more questions. 41 But He asked them a question.
Jesus: How is it that people say the Anointed One is David’s descendant? 42 Don’t you remember how David himself wrote in the psalms,
The Master said to my master:
44 Did you hear that? David calls his son “Lord.” Elders don’t defer to those who are younger in that way. How is David’s son also “Lord”?
45 Jesus turned to His disciples, speaking loudly enough for the others to hear.
Jesus: 46 Beware of the religious scholars. They like to parade around in long robes. They love being greeted in the marketplaces. They love taking the best seats in the synagogues. They adore being seated around the head table at banquets. 47 But in their greed they rob widows of their houses and cover up their greed with long pretentious prayers. Their condemnation will be all the worse because of their hypocrisy.
21 And then He turned His attention from the religious scholars to some wealthy people who were depositing their donations in the offering boxes. 2 A widow, obviously poor, came up and dropped two copper coins in one of the boxes.
Jesus: 3 I’m telling you the truth, this poor widow has made a bigger contribution than all of those rich fellows. 4 They’re just giving from their surplus, but she is giving from her poverty—she’s giving all she has to give.
5 Some people were impressed with the temple’s opulence—the precious stones and expensive decorations—but Jesus countered their observations.
Jesus: 6 Go ahead, look around, and be impressed; but days are coming when one stone will not be left standing on another. Everything here will be demolished.
Crowd: 7 When will this happen, Teacher? What signs will tell us this is about to occur?
Jesus: 8 Be careful. It’s easy to be deceived. Many people will come claiming to have My authority. They’ll shout, “I’m the One!” or “The time is now!” Don’t take a step in their direction. 9 You’ll hear about wars and conflicts, but don’t be frightened at all because these things must surely come, although they don’t signify the immediate coming of the end. 10 You can count on this: nation will attack nation, and kingdom will make war on kingdom. 11 There will be disturbances around the world—from great earthquakes to famines to epidemics. Terrifying things will happen, and there will be shocking signs from heaven. 12 But before any of this happens, they will capture you and persecute you. They’ll send you to synagogues for trial and to prisons for punishment; you’ll stand before kings and government officials for the sake of My name. 13 This will be your opportunity—your opportunity to tell your story. 14 Make up your mind in advance not to plan your strategy for answering their questions, 15 for when the time comes, I will give you the words to say—wise words—which none of your adversaries will be able to answer or argue against. 16 Your own parents, brothers, relatives, and friends will turn on you and turn you in. Some of you will be killed, 17 and all of you will be hated by everyone for the sake of My name.
18 But whatever happens, not a single hair of your heads will be harmed. 19 By enduring all of these things, you will find not loss but gain—not death but authentic life.
20 Here’s how you will know that the destruction of Jerusalem and her temple is imminent: Jerusalem will be surrounded by armies. 21 When that happens, there’s only one thing to do: if you’re in Judea, flee to the mountains; and if you’re inside the city, escape; and if you’re outside the city, stay there—don’t enter— 22 because the time has come for the promised judgment to fall. 23 How sad it will be for all the pregnant women, for all the nursing mothers in those days! All the land of Israel and all her people will feel the distress, the anger, falling on them like rain. 24 The sword will cut some down, the outsider nations will take others captive, and this holy city, this Jerusalem, will be trampled upon by the outsiders until their times are fulfilled.
25 There will be earth-shattering events—the heavens themselves will seem to be shaken with signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars. And across the earth the outsider nations will feel powerless and terrified in the face of a roaring flood of fear and foreboding, crashing like tidal waves upon them. 26 “What’s happening to the world?” people will wonder. The cosmic order will be destabilized. 27 And then, at that point, they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and blazing glory. 28 So when the troubles begin, don’t be afraid. Look up—raise your head high, because the truth is that your liberation is fast approaching.
29 (continuing with a parable) Look over there at that fig tree—and all the trees surrounding it. 30 When the leaves break out of their buds, nobody has to tell you that summer is approaching; it’s obvious to you. 31 It’s the same in the larger scheme of things. When you see all these things happening, you can be confident that the kingdom of God is approaching. 32 I’m telling you the truth: this generation will not pass from the scene before everything I’m telling you has occurred. 33 Heaven and earth will cease to exist before My words ever fail.
34 So be careful. Guard your hearts. They can be made heavy with moral laxity, with drunkenness, with the hassles of daily life. Then the day I’ve been telling you about might catch you unaware and trap you. 35 Because it’s coming—nobody on earth will escape it. 36 So you have to stay alert, praying that you’ll be able to escape the coming trials so you can stand tall in the presence of the Son of Man.
37-38 Through this whole period of time, He taught in the temple each day. People would arrive at the temple early in the morning to listen. Then, at day’s end, He would leave the city and sleep on Mount Olivet.
22 This daily pattern continued as they came closer to the holiday of Unleavened Bread, also known as the Passover.
Jesus teaches of judgment to come and the destruction of the temple. All things move toward a collision of ideas and faith at the most important feast of the year.
2 The chief priests and religious scholars continued looking for a way to kill Jesus; they hadn’t been able to act yet due to their fear of the people’s reaction. 3 At this point, Satan entered into one of the twelve, Judas (also called Iscariot). 4 Judas set up a private meeting with the chief priests and the captains of the temple police to discuss a plan for betraying Jesus and putting Him in their hands. 5 This was just the kind of break they had been waiting for, so they were thrilled and agreed to a handsome payment. 6 Everything was settled, and Judas simply waited for the right moment, when the crowds weren’t around, to betray Jesus into their custody.
7 They came to the Day of Unleavened Bread, a holy day when a special lamb (called the Passover lamb) had to be sacrificed. 8 Jesus chose Peter and John and gave them instructions.
Jesus: Go and make all the necessary preparations for the Passover meal so we can eat together.
Peter and John: 9 Where do You want us to make preparations?
Jesus: 10 When you enter the city, you’ll encounter a man carrying a jar of water. Just follow him wherever he goes, and when he enters a house, 11 tell the homeowner, “The Teacher has this question for you: ‘Where is the guest room where I can share the Passover meal with My disciples?’” 12 He’ll show you a spacious second-story room that has all the necessary furniture. That’s where you should prepare our meal.
13 They did as He said and found everything just as He said it would be, and they prepared the Passover meal. 14 When the meal was prepared, Jesus sat at the table, joined by His emissaries.[v]
The meal that Jesus and His disciples shared is still celebrated today among followers of Jesus. We surround it with varied rituals and music, but the original meal took place in the midst of great drama and tension. The disciples were arguing, and Jesus was teaching them yet another lesson about life in the kingdom of God. Jesus even spoke of His own suffering and their betrayal and denial. Yet through it all, Jesus’ focus remained on the central theme of His life and mission: the coming of the kingdom of God.
Jesus: 15 It has been My deep desire to eat this Passover meal with you before My suffering begins. 16 Know this: I will not eat another Passover meal until its meaning is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
17 He took a cup of wine and gave thanks for it.
Jesus: Take this; share it among yourselves. 18 Know this: I will not drink another sip of wine until the kingdom of God has arrived in fullness.
19 Then He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and shared it with them.
Jesus: This is My body, My body given for you. Do this to remember Me.
20 And similarly, after the meal had been eaten, He took the cup.
Jesus: This cup, which is poured out for you, is the new covenant, made in My blood. 21 But even now, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on this table. 22 As it has been determined, the Son of Man, that firstfruit of a new generation of humanity, must be betrayed, but how pitiful it will be for the person who betrays Him.
23 They immediately began questioning each other.
Disciples: Which one of us could do such a horrible thing?
24 Soon they found themselves arguing about the opposite question.
Disciples: Which one of us is the most faithful, the most important?
Jesus (interrupting): 25 The authority figures of the outsiders play this game, flexing their muscles in competition for power over one another, masking their quest for domination behind words like “benefactor” or “public servant.” 26 But you must not indulge in this charade. Instead, among you, the greatest must become like the youngest and the leader must become a true servant. 27 Who is greater right here as we eat this meal—those of us who sit at the table, or those who serve us? Doesn’t everyone normally assume those who are served are greater than those who serve? But consider My role among you. I have been with you as a servant.
28 You have stood beside Me faithfully through My trials. 29 I give you a kingdom, just as the Father has given Me a kingdom. 30 You will eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will have authority over the twelve tribes of Israel.
31 Simon, Simon, how Satan has pursued you, that he might make you part of his harvest. 32 But I have prayed for you. I have prayed that your faith will hold firm and that you will recover from your failure and become a source of strength for your brothers here.
Peter: 33 Lord, what are You talking about? I’m going all the way to the end with You—to prison, to execution—I’m prepared to do anything for You.
Jesus: 34 No, Peter, the truth is that before the rooster crows at dawn, you will have denied that you even know Me, not just once, but three times. 35 Remember when I sent you out with no money, no pack, not even sandals? Did you lack anything?
Disciples: Not a thing.
Jesus: 36 It’s different now. If you have some savings, take them with you. If you have a pack, fill it and bring it. If you don’t have a sword, sell your coat and buy one. 37 Here’s the truth: what the Hebrew Scriptures said, “And He was taken as one of the criminals,”[w] must come to fruition in Me. These words must come true.
Disciples: 38 Look, Lord, we have two swords here.
Jesus: That’s enough.
There is powerful consistency in Jesus’ life. Again and again, He withdraws from the crowds to pray in solitude. Now, at this dramatic moment, Jesus again withdraws to pray—in a solitude made more intense by the fact that He has asked His disciples to pray, too, but they have fallen asleep. And in this moment of anguished emotion, Jesus mouths a prayer that resonates with His consistent message of the Kingdom. He has taught His disciples to pray, “May Your kingdom come,” which is a request for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Now, drenched in sweat, Jesus Himself prays simply for God’s will to be done, even if it means He must drink the cup of suffering that awaits Him in the hours ahead.
We often speak of having faith in Jesus; but we seldom speak of the faith of Jesus, a faith He demonstrated consistently throughout His life and especially at its end. In a moment of agony, Jesus still trusted God, still yielded His will to God, and still approached God as “Father,” placing Himself in the position of a child, in trust—profound, tested, sincere.
39 Once again He left the city as He had been doing during recent days, returning to Mount Olivet along with His disciples. 40 And He came to a certain place.
Jesus: Pray for yourselves, that you will not sink into temptation.
41 He distanced Himself from them about a stone’s throw and knelt there, 42 praying.
Jesus: Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Me. Yet not My will, but Your will, be done.
[43 Then a messenger from heaven appeared to strengthen Him. 44 And in His anguish, He prayed even more intensely, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.][x] 45 When He rose from prayer and returned to the disciples, He found them asleep, weighed down with sorrow. 46 He roused them.
Jesus: Why are you sleeping? Wake up and pray that you will not sink into temptation.
47 Even as He said these words, the sound of a crowd could be heard in the distance, and as the crowd came into view, it was clear that Judas was leading them. He came close to Jesus and gave Jesus the traditional greeting of a kiss.
Jesus: 48 Ah, Judas, is this how you betray the Son of Man—with a kiss?
Disciples (realizing what was going on): 49 Lord, is this why You told us to bring the swords? Should we attack?
50 Before Jesus could answer, one of them had swung his sword at the high priest’s slave, cutting off his right ear.
Jesus: 51 Stop! No more of this!
Then He reached out to touch—and heal—the man’s ear. 52 Jesus turned to the chief priests, the captains of the temple, and the elders and spoke.
Jesus: Do you think I’m some sort of violent criminal? Is that why you came with swords and clubs? 53 I haven’t been hard to find—each day I’ve been in the temple in broad daylight, and you never tried to seize Me there. But this is your time—night—and this is your power—the power of darkness.
54 They grabbed Him at this point and took Him away to the high priest’s home. Peter followed—at a distance. 55 He watched from the shadows as those who had seized Jesus made a fire in the center of the courtyard and sat down around it. Then Peter slipped in quietly and sat with them. 56 But a young servant girl saw his face in the firelight. She stared for a while and then spoke.
Servant Girl: This fellow here was with Jesus. I recognize him.
Peter (denying it): 57 Woman, I don’t even know the man.
58 A little later, a man also recognized him.
Man: I recognize you. You’re one of Jesus’ followers.
Peter: Man, you’re wrong. I’m not.
59 An hour or so passed, and then another person pointed to Peter.
Another Person: This fellow is obviously Galilean. He must be a member of Jesus’ group.
Peter: 60 Look, I have no idea what you’re talking about.
And he hadn’t even finished the sentence when a nearby rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned toward Peter, and their eyes met. Peter remembered Jesus’ words about his triple denial before the rooster would crow, 62 so he left the courtyard and wept bitter tears.
63 At this point, the men who were holding Jesus began to mock Him and beat Him. 64 They put a blindfold on Him.
Men Holding Jesus: Hey, Prophet! Use Your prophetic powers to tell us who just whacked You!
65 They kept on with this sort of insulting, degrading treatment for quite some time. 66 When dawn had given way to full day, the Sanhedrin council assembled, consisting of religious leaders of the Sadducean party, along with the chief priests and religious scholars. They took Him to their headquarters for interrogation.
Sanhedrin: 67 If you are the Anointed One whom God promised us, tell us plainly.
Jesus: If I give you an answer, you won’t believe it. 68 And if I ask you a question, you won’t answer it. 69 But this I will say to you: from now on, the Son of Man will take His seat at the right hand of the power of God.
Sanhedrin: 70 So You are the Son of God, then?
Jesus: It’s as you say.
Sanhedrin: 71 What more evidence do we need? We’ve heard it with our own ears from His own lips.
23 So the whole council got up and took Jesus to Pilate. 2 They brought accusations against Him.
Sanhedrin: We have observed this man leading our nation astray. He even forbade us to pay our taxes to Caesar. He claims to be the Anointed One and a King Himself.
Pilate: 3 Are You the King of the Jews?
Jesus: It’s as you say.
Pilate (to the chief priest and crowd): 4 I find this man guilty of no crime.
Sanhedrin (growing more intense): 5 He has been stirring up discontent among the people all over Judea. He started up in Galilee, and now He’s brought His brand of trouble all the way to Jerusalem!
Pilate: 6 Just a minute. Is this man a Galilean?
7 When Pilate learned that Jesus was indeed Galilean—which meant He was officially under Herod’s jurisdiction—Pilate sent Him over to Herod, who was currently in Jerusalem. 8 Herod was fascinated to meet Jesus for he had heard about Him for a long time. He was hoping he might be treated to a miracle or two. 9 He interrogated Jesus for quite a while, but Jesus remained silent, refusing to answer his questions. 10 Meanwhile the chief priests and religious scholars had plenty to say—angrily hurling accusations at Jesus.
11 Eventually Herod and his soldiers began to insult Jesus, mocking and degrading Him. They put expensive clothing on Him and sent Him back to Pilate. 12 This ended a long-standing rift between Herod and Pilate; they became friends from that day forward.
13 Pilate assembled the chief priests and other Jewish authorities.
Pilate: 14 You presented this man to me as a rabble-rouser, but I examined Him in your presence and found Him not guilty of the charges you have leveled against Him. 15 Herod also examined Him and released Him to my custody. So He hasn’t done anything deserving the death penalty. 16 I’ll see to it that He is properly whipped and then let Him go.
[17 It was the custom for Pilate to set one prisoner free during the holiday festivities.][y]
Crowd (all shouting at once): 18 Away with this man! Free Barabbas instead!
Crucifixion is a favorite Roman punishment for insurrectionists, slaves, and prisoners of war. Anyone daring to defy the power and authority of Caesar is executed in this public and humiliating way. Jesus indeed is a revolutionary. He doesn’t come to proclaim a new religion, but a new kingdom—a new way of life. He is indeed a threat to Caesar’s way of doing things, a way that co-opts the religious leaders.
Jesus’ revolution is a peaceful revolution. He doesn’t advocate the use of violence—in fact, when one of His disciples uses the sword to try to protect Jesus from arrest, Jesus heals the “enemy” and rebukes His disciple. So Jesus doesn’t support the regime of Caesar or follow the usual violent path of revolution: He leads a revolutionary revolution—in a path of love, healing, justice, and reconciliation.
Jesus appropriates and transforms the symbol of their power into a symbol of His greater power. He makes the cross not the icon of violent domination, but the reverse. By hanging on the cross and speaking of forgiveness, Jesus shows that there is a greater power at work in the world than the power of domination: it’s the power of God’s saving and reconciling love.
19 Barabbas had been imprisoned after being convicted of an insurrection he had led in Jerusalem. He had also committed murder. 20 Pilate argued with them, wishing he could release Jesus, 21 but they wouldn’t be silenced.
Crowd (shouting): Crucify Him! Crucify Him!
Pilate (countering a third time): 22 Why? What has He done that is so evil? I have found in Him no offense worthy of capital punishment. As I said, I will punish Him and then release Him.
23 But they would not relent. They shouted louder and louder that He should be crucified, and eventually Pilate capitulated. 24 So he pronounced the punishment they demanded.
25 He released the rebel and murderer Barabbas—the insurrectionist they had pleaded for in His place—and he handed Jesus over to them to do with as they desired.
26 On the way to the place of crucifixion, they pulled a man from the crowd—his name was Simon of Cyrene, a person from the countryside who happened to be entering the city at that moment. They put Jesus’ cross on Simon’s shoulders, and he followed behind Jesus. 27 Along with Him was a huge crowd of common people, including many women shrieking and wailing in grief.
Jesus (to the people in the crowd): 28 Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me. Weep instead for yourselves and weep for your children. 29 Days are coming when people will say, “Blessed are the infertile; blessed are the wombs that never bore a child; blessed are the breasts that never nursed an infant.” 30 People will beg the mountains, “Surround us!” They’ll plead with the hills, “Cover us!”[z] 31 For if they treat Me like this when I’m like green unseasoned wood, what will they do to a nation that’s ready to burn like seasoned firewood?
32 Jesus wasn’t the only one being crucified that day. There were two others, criminals, who were also being led to their execution. 33 When they came to the place known as “The Skull,” they crucified Jesus there, in the company of criminals, one to the right of Jesus and the other to His left.
Jesus: 34 [Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.][aa]
Meanwhile they were drawing lots to see who would win Jesus’ clothing. 35 The crowd of people stood, watching.
Authorities (mocking Jesus): So He was supposed to rescue others, was He? He was supposed to be God’s Anointed, the Liberating King? Let’s see Him start by liberating Himself!
36 The soldiers joined in the mockery. First, they pretended to offer Him a soothing drink—but it was sour wine.
Soldiers: 37 Hey, if You’re the King of the Jews, why don’t You free Yourself!
38 Even the inscription they placed over Him was intended to mock Him—“This is the King of the Jews!” [This was written in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew.][ab]
39 One of the criminals joined in the cruel talk.
Cynical Criminal: You’re supposed to be the Anointed One, right? Well—do it! Rescue Yourself and us!
40 But the other criminal told him to be quiet.
Believing Criminal: Don’t you have any fear of God at all? You’re getting the same death sentence He is! 41 We’re getting what we deserve since we’ve committed crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong at all! 42 (turning to Jesus) Jesus, when You come into Your kingdom, please remember me.
Jesus: 43 I promise you that this very day you will be with Me in paradise.
44 At this point, it was about noon, and a darkness fell over the whole region. The darkness persisted until about three in the afternoon, 45 and at some point during this darkness, the curtain in the temple was torn in two.
The tearing of this heavy curtain in the temple is highly symbolic. Because this curtain separated the holiest place in the temple from the rest of the temple, some see in this act a symbol of God opening the way for unholy humans to enter into His holy presence: Jesus’ death brought forgiveness and opened the way for all to come to God. Others see in the curtain’s being torn the opposite meaning: God’s presence can no longer be confined to any single geographical place. The suffering and death of Jesus ended one age of human history, and now a new era has begun. Now God is on the move, at large, invading the whole world. Or perhaps this graphic image means both.
Jesus (shouting out loudly): 46 Father, I entrust My spirit into Your hands![ac]
And with those words, He exhaled—and breathed no more.
47 The Centurion[ad]—one of the soldiers who performed the execution—saw all this, and he praised God.
Centurion: No doubt, this man must have been innocent.
48 The crowds of common people who had gathered and watched the whole ordeal through to its conclusion left for their homes, pounding on their own chests in profound grief. 49 And all who knew Jesus personally, including the group of women who had been with Him from the beginning in Galilee, stood at a distance, watching all of these things unfold.
50 Meanwhile a man named Joseph had been at work. He was a member of the council, a good and fair man, 51 from a Judean town called Arimathea. He had objected to the plans and actions of the council; he was seeking the kingdom of God. 52 He had gone to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 He removed the body from the cross and wrapped it in a shroud made of fine linen. He then laid the body in a cavelike tomb cut from solid rock, a tomb that never had been used before. 54 It was Preparation Day—the day before the holy Sabbath—and it was about to begin at sundown. 55 The women who had accompanied Jesus from the beginning in Galilee now came, took note of where the tomb was and how His body had been prepared, 56 then left to prepare spices and ointments for His proper burial. They ceased their work on the Sabbath so they could rest as the Hebrew Scriptures required.
24 Early on Sunday morning, even before the sun had fully risen, these women made their way back to the tomb with the spices and ointments they had prepared. 2 When they arrived, they found the stone was rolled away from the tomb entrance, 3 and when they looked inside, the body of the Lord Jesus was nowhere to be seen. 4 They didn’t know what to think. As they stood there in confusion, two men suddenly appeared standing beside them. These men seemed to glow with light. 5 The women were so terrified that they fell to the ground facedown.
This phrase, “Son of Man,” is very important in Luke’s story and may have many layers of meaning. It may mean “epitome of humanity” or “prime example of what a human can be.” But it also evokes a specific passage of Scripture that is very important to Jewish people, Daniel 7:13-27. There the phrase “Son of Man” refers to a king who receives an eternal and universal kingdom, and it also represents “the saints of the Most High”—the people of God. In light of Jesus’ central message about the kingdom of God, it is likely that the phrase suggests Jesus is the long-awaited Anointed One who launches a new era in human history and who creates a community of people who represent the eternal and universal kingdom of God. In this way, “Son of” suggests “new generation of,” and “Man” suggests “humanity.” Jesus is Himself the new generation of humanity (a second Adam, a new beginning), and the community He creates shares this identity (a new creation, a new humanity in Jesus). The two messengers here use this pregnant phrase in a way that shocks everyone: The way this long-awaited Anointed One receives His kingdom is not through conventional military victory where enemies are defeated and killed. No, this King receives His kingdom by suffering, dying, and rising again Himself. Amazing news—good news!
Two Men: Why are you seeking the living One in the place of the dead? 6 He is not here. He has risen from the dead. Don’t you remember what He told you way back in Galilee? 7 He told you that the Son of Man must be handed over to wicked men, He must be crucified, and then on the third day He must rise.
8 The women did remember Jesus’ words about this, 9 so they returned from the tomb and found the eleven and recounted for them—and others with them—everything they had experienced. 10-11 The Lord’s emissaries[ae] heard their stories as fiction, a lie; they didn’t believe a word of it. (By the way, this group of women included Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, along with a number of others.) 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. When he reached the opening, he bent down, looked inside, and saw the linen burial cloths lying there. But the body was gone. He walked away, full of wonder about what had happened.
13 Picture this:
That same day, two other disciples (not of the eleven) are traveling the seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus. 14 As they walk along, they talk back and forth about all that has transpired during recent days. 15 While they’re talking, discussing, and conversing, Jesus catches up to them and begins walking with them, 16 but for some reason they don’t recognize Him.
Jesus: 17 You two seem deeply engrossed in conversation. What are you talking about as you walk along this road?
They stop walking and just stand there, looking sad. 18 One of them—Cleopas is his name—speaks up.
Cleopas: You must be the only visitor in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about what’s been going on over the last few days.
Jesus: 19 What are you talking about?
Two Disciples: It’s all about the man named Jesus of Nazareth. He was a mighty prophet who did amazing miracles and preached powerful messages in the sight of God and everyone around. 20 Our chief priests and authorities handed Him over to be executed—crucified, in fact.
21 We had been hoping that He was the One—you know, the One who would liberate all Israel and bring God’s promises. Anyway, on top of all this, just this morning—the third day after the execution— 22 some women in our group really shocked us. They went to the tomb early this morning, 23 but they didn’t see His body anywhere. Then they came back and told us they did see something—a vision of heavenly messengers—and these messengers said that Jesus was alive. 24 Some people in our group went to the tomb to check it out, and just as the women had said, it was empty. But they didn’t see Jesus.
Jesus: 25 Come on, men! Why are you being so foolish? Why are your hearts so sluggish when it comes to believing what the prophets have been saying all along? 26 Didn’t it have to be this way? Didn’t the Anointed One have to experience these sufferings in order to come into His glory?
Luke has told his story. It ends with joy and praise. The crucified Jesus has been resurrected and has ascended to heaven to take His place at God’s right hand just as the ancient prophets predicted. For the band of disciples, Easter joy has eclipsed Good Friday sorrow.
This ending point becomes the starting point for Luke’s sequel, known as the Acts of the Apostles. The story isn’t really over; it’s just begun. The life and ministry of Jesus that Luke has just recounted is the mustard-seed stage of the kingdom of God that continues to grow and grow and grow. Now it’s time for this Kingdom to fill the world. If Luke’s Gospel is about what Jesus began to do and teach, then Luke’s sequel is about what the risen Jesus continues to do and teach through His followers for millennia. Luke writes in hope that future believers will be taken up into this beautiful story that will never, ever end.
27 Then He begins with Moses and continues, prophet by prophet, explaining the meaning of the Hebrew Scriptures, showing how they were talking about the very things that had happened to Jesus.
28 About this time, they are nearing their destination. Jesus keeps walking ahead as if He has no plans to stop there, 29 but they convince Him to join them.
Two Disciples: Please, be our guest. It’s getting late, and soon it will be too dark to walk.
So He accompanies them to their home. 30 When they sit down at the table for dinner, He takes the bread in His hands, He gives thanks for it, and then He breaks it and hands it to them. 31 At that instant, two things happen simultaneously: their eyes are suddenly opened so they recognize Him, and He instantly vanishes—just disappears before their eyes.
Starting your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus is easy. You’re already logged in with your Bible Gateway account. The next step is to choose a monthly or yearly subscription, and then enter your payment information. Your credit card won’t be charged until the trial period is over. You can cancel anytime during the trial period.
Click the button below to continue.
You’ve already claimed your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus. To subscribe at our regular subscription rate, click the button below.
It looks like you’re already subscribed to Bible Gateway Plus! To manage your subscription, visit your Bible Gateway account settings.
Upgrade, and get the most out of your new account. An integrated digital Bible study library - including complete notes from the Believer's Bible Commentary and the Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (NIV and NRSV) - is just a step away! Try it free for 30 days.
Three easy steps to start your free trial subscription to Bible Gateway Plus.