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Matthew 21:23-46The Message (MSG)

True Authority

23 Then he was back in the Temple, teaching. The high priests and leaders of the people came up and demanded, “Show us your credentials. Who authorized you to teach here?”

24-25 Jesus responded, “First let me ask you a question. You answer my question and I’ll answer yours. About the baptism of John—who authorized it: heaven or humans?”

25-27 They were on the spot and knew it. They pulled back into a huddle and whispered, “If we say ‘heaven,’ he’ll ask us why we didn’t believe him; if we say ‘humans,’ we’re up against it with the people because they all hold John up as a prophet.” They decided to concede that round to Jesus. “We don’t know,” they answered.

Jesus said, “Then neither will I answer your question.

The Story of Two Sons

28 “Tell me what you think of this story: A man had two sons. He went up to the first and said, ‘Son, go out for the day and work in the vineyard.’

29 “The son answered, ‘I don’t want to.’ Later on he thought better of it and went.

30 “The father gave the same command to the second son. He answered, ‘Sure, glad to.’ But he never went.

31-32 “Which of the two sons did what the father asked?”

They said, “The first.”

Jesus said, “Yes, and I tell you that crooks and whores are going to precede you into God’s kingdom. John came to you showing you the right road. You turned up your noses at him, but the crooks and whores believed him. Even when you saw their changed lives, you didn’t care enough to change and believe him.

The Story of the Greedy Farmhands

33-34 “Here’s another story. Listen closely. There was once a man, a wealthy farmer, who planted a vineyard. He fenced it, dug a winepress, put up a watchtower, then turned it over to the farmhands and went off on a trip. When it was time to harvest the grapes, he sent his servants back to collect his profits.

35-37 “The farmhands grabbed the first servant and beat him up. The next one they murdered. They threw stones at the third but he got away. The owner tried again, sending more servants. They got the same treatment. The owner was at the end of his rope. He decided to send his son. ‘Surely,’ he thought, ‘they will respect my son.’

38-39 “But when the farmhands saw the son arrive, they rubbed their hands in greed. ‘This is the heir! Let’s kill him and have it all for ourselves.’ They grabbed him, threw him out, and killed him.

40 “Now, when the owner of the vineyard arrives home from his trip, what do you think he will do to the farmhands?”

41 “He’ll kill them—a rotten bunch, and good riddance,” they answered. “Then he’ll assign the vineyard to farmhands who will hand over the profits when it’s time.”

42-44 Jesus said, “Right—and you can read it for yourselves in your Bibles:

The stone the masons threw out
    is now the cornerstone.
This is God’s work;
    we rub our eyes, we can hardly believe it!

“This is the way it is with you. God’s kingdom will be taken back from you and handed over to a people who will live out a kingdom life. Whoever stumbles on this Stone gets shattered; whoever the Stone falls on gets smashed.”

45-46 When the religious leaders heard this story, they knew it was aimed at them. They wanted to arrest Jesus and put him in jail, but, intimidated by public opinion, they held back. Most people held him to be a prophet of God.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Psalm 71The Message (MSG)

71 1-3 I run for dear life to God,
    I’ll never live to regret it.
Do what you do so well:
    get me out of this mess and up on my feet.
Put your ear to the ground and listen,
    give me space for salvation.
Be a guest room where I can retreat;
    you said your door was always open!
You’re my salvation—my vast, granite fortress.

4-7 My God, free me from the grip of Wicked,
    from the clutch of Bad and Bully.
You keep me going when times are tough—
    my bedrock, God, since my childhood.
I’ve hung on you from the day of my birth,
    the day you took me from the cradle;
    I’ll never run out of praise.
Many gasp in alarm when they see me,
    but you take me in stride.

8-11 Just as each day brims with your beauty,
    my mouth brims with praise.
But don’t turn me out to pasture when I’m old
    or put me on the shelf when I can’t pull my weight.
My enemies are talking behind my back,
    watching for their chance to knife me.
The gossip is: “God has abandoned him.
    Pounce on him now; no one will help him.”

12-16 God, don’t just watch from the sidelines.
    Come on! Run to my side!
My accusers—make them lose face.
    Those out to get me—make them look
Like idiots, while I stretch out, reaching for you,
    and daily add praise to praise.
I’ll write the book on your righteousness,
    talk up your salvation the livelong day,
    never run out of good things to write or say.
I come in the power of the Lord God,
    I post signs marking his right-of-way.

17-24 You got me when I was an unformed youth,
    God, and taught me everything I know.
Now I’m telling the world your wonders;
    I’ll keep at it until I’m old and gray.
God, don’t walk off and leave me
    until I get out the news
Of your strong right arm to this world,
    news of your power to the world yet to come,
Your famous and righteous
    ways, O God.
God, you’ve done it all!
    Who is quite like you?
You, who made me stare trouble in the face,
    Turn me around;
Now let me look life in the face.
    I’ve been to the bottom;
Bring me up, streaming with honors;
    turn to me, be tender to me,
And I’ll take up the lute and thank you
    to the tune of your faithfulness, God.
I’ll make music for you on a harp,
    Holy One of Israel.
When I open up in song to you,
    I let out lungsful of praise,
    my rescued life a song.
All day long I’m chanting
    about you and your righteous ways,
While those who tried to do me in
    slink off looking ashamed.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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