Matthew 21 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
Jesus Enters Jerusalem Like a King
21 Jesus and his followers were coming closer to Jerusalem. But first they stopped at Bethphage at the hill called the Mount of Olives. From there Jesus sent two of his followers into town. 2 He said to them, “Go to the town you can see there. When you enter it, you will find a donkey with her colt. Untie them both, and bring them to me. 3 If anyone asks you why you are taking the donkeys, tell them, ‘The Master needs them. He will send them back soon.’”
4 This showed the full meaning of what the prophet said:
5 “Tell the people of Zion,[a]
6 The followers went and did what Jesus told them to do. 7 They brought the mother donkey and the young donkey to him. They covered the donkeys with their coats, and Jesus sat on them. 8 On the way to Jerusalem, many people spread their coats on the road for Jesus. Others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 Some of the people were walking ahead of Jesus. Others were walking behind him. They all shouted,
“Praise[b] to the Son of David!
Praise to God in heaven!”
10 Then Jesus went into Jerusalem. All the people in the city were confused. They asked, “Who is this man?”
11 The crowds following Jesus answered, “This is Jesus. He is the prophet from the town of Nazareth in Galilee.”
Jesus Goes to the Temple
12 Jesus went into the Temple area. He threw out all those who were selling and buying things there. He turned over the tables that belonged to those who were exchanging different kinds of money. And he turned over the benches of those who were selling doves. 13 Jesus said to them, “The Scriptures say, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer.’[c] But you are changing it into a ‘hiding place for thieves.’[d]”
14 Some blind people and some who were crippled came to Jesus in the Temple area. Jesus healed them. 15 The leading priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he was doing. And they saw the children praising him in the Temple area. The children were shouting, “Praise to the Son of David.” All this made the priests and the teachers of the law angry.
16 They asked Jesus, “Do you hear what these children are saying?”
He answered, “Yes. The Scriptures say, ‘You have taught children and babies to give praise.’[e] Have you not read that Scripture?”
17 Then Jesus left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.
Jesus Shows the Power of Faith
18 Early the next morning, Jesus was going back to the city. He was very hungry. 19 He saw a fig tree beside the road and went to get a fig from it. But there were no figs on the tree. There were only leaves. So Jesus said to the tree, “You will never again produce fruit!” The tree immediately dried up and died.
20 When the followers saw this, they were very surprised. They asked, “How did the fig tree dry up and die so quickly?”
21 Jesus answered, “The truth is, if you have faith and no doubts, you will be able to do the same as I did to this tree. And you will be able to do more. You will be able to say to this mountain, ‘Go, mountain, fall into the sea.’ And if you have faith, it will happen. 22 If you believe, you will get anything you ask for in prayer.”
Jewish Leaders Doubt Jesus’ Authority
23 Jesus went into the Temple area. While Jesus was teaching there, the leading priests and the older leaders of the people came to him. They said, “Tell us! What authority do you have to do these things you are doing? Who gave you this authority?”
24 Jesus answered, “I will ask you a question too. If you answer me, then I will tell you what authority I have to do these things. 25 Tell me: When John baptized people, did his authority come from God, or was it only from other people?”
The priests and the Jewish leaders talked about Jesus’ question. They said to each other, “If we answer, ‘John’s baptism was from God,’ then he will say, ‘Then why didn’t you believe John?’ 26 But we can’t say John’s baptism was from someone else. We are afraid of the people, because they all believe John was a prophet.”
27 So they told Jesus, “We don’t know the answer.”
Jesus said, “Then I will not tell you who gave me the authority to do these things.
Jesus Uses a Story About Two Sons
28 “Tell me what you think about this: There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first son and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
29 “The son answered, ‘I will not go.’ But later he decided he should go, and he went.
30 “Then the father went to the other son and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ He answered, ‘Yes, sir, I will go and work.’ But he did not go.
31 “Which of the two sons obeyed his father?”
The Jewish leaders answered, “The first son.”
Jesus said to them, “The truth is, you are worse than the tax collectors and the prostitutes. In fact, they will enter God’s kingdom before you enter. 32 John came showing you the right way to live, and you did not believe him. But the tax collectors and prostitutes believed John. You saw that happening, but you would not change. You still refused to believe him.
God Sends His Son
33 “Listen to this story: There was a man who owned a vineyard. He put a wall around the field and dug a hole for a winepress. Then he built a tower. He leased the land to some farmers and then left on a trip. 34 Later, it was time for the grapes to be picked. So the man sent his servants to the farmers to get his share of the grapes.
35 “But the farmers grabbed the servants and beat one. They killed another one and then stoned to death a third servant. 36 So the man sent some other servants to the farmers. He sent more servants than he sent the first time. But the farmers did the same thing to them that they did the first time. 37 So the man decided to send his son to the farmers. He said, ‘The farmers will respect my son.’
38 “But when the farmers saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the owner’s son. This vineyard will be his. If we kill him, it will be ours.’ 39 So the farmers took the son, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
40 “So what will the owner of the vineyard do to these farmers when he comes?”
41 The Jewish priests and leaders said, “He will surely kill those evil men. Then he will lease the land to other farmers, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”
42 Jesus said to them, “Surely you have read this in the Scriptures:
‘The stone that the builders refused to accept
43 “So I tell you that God’s kingdom will be taken away from you. It will be given to people who do what God wants in his kingdom. 44 Whoever falls on this stone will be broken. And it will crush anyone it falls on.”[f]
45 When the leading priests and the Pharisees heard these stories, they knew that Jesus was talking about them. 46 They wanted to find a way to arrest Jesus. But they were afraid to do anything, because the people believed that Jesus was a prophet.