The Passion Translation
Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem
11 Now, as they were approaching Jerusalem, they arrived at the place of the stables[a] near Bethany on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of his disciples ahead 2 and said to them, “As soon as you enter the village ahead, you will find a donkey’s colt tied there that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it to me. 3 And if anyone asks, ‘Why are you taking it?’ tell them, ‘The master needs it and will send it back to you soon.’ ”[b]
4 So they went and found the colt outside in the street, tied to a gate. When they started to untie it, 5 some people standing there said to them, “Why are you untying that colt?”
6 They answered just as Jesus had told them: “The master needs it, and he will send it back to you soon.” So the bystanders let them go.[c]
7 The disciples brought the colt to Jesus and piled their cloaks and prayer shawls[d] on the young donkey, and Jesus rode upon it.[e] 8 Many people carpeted the road in front of him with their cloaks and prayer shawls,[f] while others gathered palm branches and spread them before him. 9 Jesus rode in the center of the procession, with crowds going before him and behind him. They all shouted in celebration, “Bring the victory![g] We welcome the one coming with blessings sent from the Lord Yahweh![h] 10 Blessings rest on this kingdom he ushers in—the kingdom of our father David! Bring us the victory in the highest realms of heaven!”[i]
11 Jesus rode through the gates of Jerusalem and up to the temple. After looking around at everything, he left for Bethany with the Twelve to spend the night, for it was already late in the day.
Jesus and a Fruitless Fig Tree
12 The next day, as he left Bethany, Jesus was feeling hungry. 13 He noticed a leafy fig tree in the distance, so he walked over to see if there was any fruit on it, but there was none—only leaves (for it wasn’t yet the season for bearing figs).[j] 14 Jesus spoke[k] to the fig tree, saying, “No one will ever eat fruit from you again!” And the disciples overheard him.
Jesus Drives Merchants Out of the Temple Courts
15 When they came into Jerusalem, Jesus went directly into the temple area and overturned all the tables and benches of the merchants who were doing business there. One by one he drove them all out of the temple courts,[l] and they scattered away, including the money changers[m] and those selling doves. 16 And he would not allow them to use the temple courts as a thoroughfare for carrying their merchandise and their furniture.
18 When the chief priests and religious scholars heard this, they began to hatch a plot as to how they could eliminate Jesus. But they feared him and his influence, because the entire crowd was totally captivated by his teaching. 19 So he and his disciples spent the nights outside the city.
Lessons of Faith
20 In the morning, they passed by the fig tree that Jesus spoke to and it was completely withered from the roots up. 21 Peter remembered and said to him, “Teacher, look! That’s the fig tree you cursed. It’s now all shriveled up and dead.”
22 Jesus replied, “Let the faith of God be in you![p] 23 Listen to the truth I speak to you: Whoever says to this mountain with great faith and does not doubt,[q] ‘Mountain, be lifted up and thrown into the midst of the sea,’[r] and believes that what he says will happen, it will be done. 24 This is the reason I urge you to boldly believe for whatever you ask for in prayer—be convinced that you have received it and it will be yours. 25 And whenever you stand praying,[s] if you find that you carry something in your heart against another person, release him and forgive him[t] so that your Father in heaven will also release you and forgive you of your faults. 26 But if you will not release forgiveness, don’t expect your Father in heaven to release you from your misdeeds.”[u]
The Religious Leaders Question Jesus’ Authority
27 They came again into Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the Jewish rulers—the chief priest, certain religious scholars, and the elders—approached him. They came up to him 28 and asked, “What right do you have to say and do these things? Who gave you the authority to do all this?”
29 Jesus replied, “I too have a question to ask you. If you can answer this question, then I will tell you by what power I do all these things. 30 Where did John’s authority to immerse come from? Was it from heaven or from people? Answer me now.”
31 They stepped away and debated among themselves, saying, “How should we answer this? If we say, ‘from heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Then why didn’t you respond to John and believe what he said?’ 32 But if we say, ‘from the people,’ we fear the crowds, for they’re convinced that John was God’s prophet.”
33 So they finally answered, “We don’t know.”
“Then neither will I tell you where my power comes from to do these things,” Jesus replied.[v]
- 11:1 Or Bethphage, which in Aramaic means “the house of stables.” Transliterated into Greek it means “the house of unripe figs.”
- 11:3 Only once in the Gospels do we see Jesus ever needing anything. In this case he needed a donkey. More than one commentator has seen a picture here of how the Lord “needs” every believer to be his representative in the world.
- 11:6 It is clear that Jesus had supernatural knowledge ahead of time about the colt, where it would be found, and what would be spoken by the bystanders. This would qualify as a “word of revelation knowledge,” listed as one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to the church today. See 1 Cor. 12:8. As the Creator, Jesus Christ has the right to be called the “owner” of the donkey.
- 11:7 Or “garments.” By cultural implication, this would include prayer shawls.
- 11:7 See Zech. 9:9. Kings rode on horses, not donkeys. Jesus chose the young colt as a symbol of humility and gentleness. It would be difficult for the people not to see the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy in front of their eyes.
- 11:8 The men would have been wearing their prayer shawls as they welcomed Rabbi Jesus to Jerusalem. See also 2 Kings 9:13.
- 11:9 Or Hosanna, an Aramaic word that means “O, save us now” (or “bring the victory”)! The crowds were recognizing Jesus as Yahweh’s Messiah. It is obvious that the people were expecting Jesus to immediately overthrow the Roman oppression and set the nation free. Many want victory before the cross, but true victory comes after resurrection.
- 11:9 As translated from the Aramaic. See Ps. 118:25–26.
- 11:10 Or “You who are in the highest place, save us now!”
- 11:13 The fig tree is first mentioned in Gen. 3:7, with its leaves being a “covering” for fallen Adam and Eve to hide behind. It also became a hiding place for Zacchaeus, who climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see Jesus. The tree with leaves but no fruit can also be a symbol of Israel’s religious system of that day (Jer. 8:13; 24:1–10). Jesus next drives out the money changers from the temple, who were rotten fruit. The firstfruits of the harvest Jesus was looking for came on the day of Pentecost, at the end of the Feast of Firstfruits. See Acts 2.
- 11:14 Or “Answering (the fig tree), he spoke to it.” The text does not say that Jesus cursed the tree, only that he “answered” and spoke to the tree. Peter’s interpretation of this was that Jesus cursed the tree (vv. 20–21).
- 11:15 Also known as the court of the gentiles, the only place where non-Jews were allowed in the temple complex.
- 11:15 The Aramaic reads “the tables that had the firstborn ransom payments.”
- 11:17 See Isa. 56:7.
- 11:17 See Jer. 7:11.
- 11:22 As translated from the Aramaic. It is possible to translate the Greek text as an adjectival phrase, “God-like faith” or “godly faith.”
- 11:23 The Aramaic word for doubt means “to be divided (undecided) in your heart.”
- 11:23 The mountain and the sea can also be metaphors. Mountains in the Bible can refer to kingdoms, and the sea represents the nations (e.g., “sea of humanity”). Faith lifts up and brings with us the “mountain” of God’s kingdom realm when we go into the nations. The Greek word for mountain, oros, is related to a verb that means “to lift up and carry off and take with you.” This truth Jesus brings us is more than hyperbole; it is the active power of faith to take and carry the power and authority of the mountain—God’s kingdom realm—with us wherever we go.
- 11:25 Most ancient Jewish prayers require that a person stand to pray.
- 11:25 The Greek word for forgiveness is apehiemi and means “to send away,” “to take away,” “to release,” “to let flow” (away).
- 11:26 This verse is omitted by the Greek texts of Nestle-Aland, Wescott & Hort, and most modern translations because it is not found in some of the most reliable and earliest manuscripts. It is found in the Aramaic. Although its inclusion is dubious, this translation includes it, for it does not interfere with the understanding of this pericope and a similar saying is found in Matt. 6:15.
- 11:33 As they listened to the parable of the tenant in ch. 12, they began to understand that Jesus was the Son of God who came with heaven’s authority to represent the Father.