Matthew 21 Expanded Bible (EXB)
Jesus Enters Jerusalem as a King
21 As Jesus and his ·followers [disciples] ·were coming closer to [approached] Jerusalem, they ·stopped at [L came to] Bethphage ·at [or on] the Mount of Olives. From there Jesus sent two of his ·followers [disciples] 2 and said to them, “Go to the town ·you can see there [ahead of you; or opposite you]. When you enter it, you will ·quickly [immediately] find a donkey tied there with its colt. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone asks you ·why you are taking the donkeys [L anything], say that ·the Master [the Lord; or its Owner] needs them, and ·he will send them at once [or the Lord will return it soon; see Mark 11:3].”
4 This was to ·bring about [fulfill] what ·the prophet had said [L had been spoken through the prophet]:
5 “Tell ·the people of Jerusalem [L the daughter of Zion; C a metaphor for Israel],
6 [So] The ·followers [disciples] went and did what Jesus ·told them to do [instructed; commanded]. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt to Jesus and laid their ·coats [cloaks] on them, ·and Jesus sat on them. 8 ·Many people [A very large crowd; or Most of the crowd] spread their coats on the road. Others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The ·people [crowds] were walking ahead of Jesus and ·behind [following] him, shouting,
“·Praise [L Hosanna! C a Hebrew word originally used in praying for help, but by this time a joyful shout of praise to God] to the Son of David [C a title for the Messiah]!
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, all the city was ·filled with excitement [stirred up; in an uproar]. The people asked, “Who is this man?”
11 The crowd said, “This man is Jesus, the prophet from the town of Nazareth in Galilee.”
Jesus Goes to the Temple
12 Jesus went into the ·Temple [temple complex; C the large temple area, not the inner building where only the priests could go] and ·threw [drove] out all the people who were buying and selling there. He turned over the tables of ·those who were exchanging different kinds of money [L the moneychangers], and he upset the benches of those who were selling doves [or pigeons; C moneychangers provided particular coins needed for the temple tax; doves or pigeons were sold for sacrifices; Lev. 5:7]. 13 Jesus said to ·all the people there [L them], “It is written in the Scriptures, ‘My ·Temple [L House] will be called a house for prayer [Is. 56:7].’ But you are ·changing [making] it into a ·hideout for robbers [T den of thieves; Jer. 7:11].”
14 The blind and ·crippled people [lame] came to Jesus in the Temple [courts; v. 12], and he healed them. 15 [L But when] The ·leading [T chief] priests and the ·teachers of the law [scribes] saw that Jesus was doing wonderful things and that the children were praising him in the Temple [courts; v. 12], saying, “·Praise [L Hosanna; v. 9] to the Son of David [C a title for the Messiah; v. 9].” All these things made the priests and the ·teachers of the law [scribes] ·very angry [indignant].
16 They asked Jesus, “Do you hear the things these children are saying?”
Jesus answered, “Yes. Haven’t you read in the Scriptures, ·‘You have taught children and babies to sing praises’ [L ‘From the mouths of infants and nursing babes you have prepared/created praise’; Ps. 8:2 LXX]?”
17 Then Jesus left and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.
The Power of Faith
18 Early the next morning, as Jesus was going back to the city, he became hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree beside the road, Jesus went to it, but ·there were no figs [L he found nothing] on the tree, only leaves [Is. 5:1–7]. So Jesus said to the tree, “·You will [May you] never again have fruit.” The tree immediately ·dried up [withered].
20 When his ·followers [disciples] saw this, they were amazed. They asked, “How did the fig tree ·dry up [wither] ·so quickly [immediately]?”
21 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will be able to do what I did to this tree and even more. You will be able to say to this mountain, ‘·Go, fall [L Be lifted up and thrown] into the sea.’ And if you have faith, it will ·happen [be done]. 22 If you ·believe [have faith], you will get anything you ask for in prayer.”
Leaders Doubt Jesus’ Authority
23 Jesus went to the Temple [courts], and while he was teaching there, the ·leading [T chief] priests and the elders of the people came to him. They said, “What authority do you have to do these things? [L And] Who gave you this authority?”
24 Jesus answered, “I also will ask you a question. 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 that come from ·God [L heaven; C a reverential Jewish way of referring to God] or just from ·other people [human beings]?”
They argued about Jesus’ question, saying, “If we answer, ‘John’s baptism was from ·God [L heaven],’ Jesus will say, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘It was from ·people [human beings],’ we are afraid of what the crowd will do because they all ·believe [think; hold] that John was a prophet.”
27 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”
Jesus said to them, “Then I won’t tell you what authority I have to do these things.
A Story About Two Sons
28 “Tell me what you think about this: A man had two sons. He went to the ·first [elder] son and said, ‘Son, go and work today in ·my [the] vineyard.’ 29 The son answered, ‘I will not go.’ But later the son ·changed his mind [regretted/thought better of it] and went. 30 Then the father went to the other son and said, ·‘Son, go and work today in my vineyard’ [L the same thing]. The son answered, ‘Yes, sir, I will,’ but he did not go. 31 Which of the two sons ·obeyed [L did the will of] his father?”
·The priests and leaders [L They] answered, “The first son.”
Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes ·will enter [are going into] the kingdom of God ·before you do [ahead of you]. 32 [L For] John came to show you the ·right way to live [the way/path of righteousness]. You did not believe him, but the tax collectors and prostitutes believed him. Even after seeing this, you still refused to ·change your ways [change your mind; repent] and believe him.
The Story of the Evil Farmers
33 “Listen to ·this story [another parable]: There was a ·man who owned [landowner who planted] a vineyard. He put a wall around it and dug a ·hole [vat; pit] for a winepress and built a tower [C to protect against thieves; see Is. 5:1–7 for the background to this parable]. Then he leased the land to some [C tenant] farmers and left for a trip [C the owner represents God, the farmers are Israel’s religious leaders]. 34 When it was time for the grapes to be picked, he sent his ·servants [slaves] to the farmers to get his share of the grapes. 35 But the farmers grabbed the ·servants [slaves], beat one, killed another, and then ·killed a third servant with stones [L stoned a third]. 36 So the man sent some other ·servants [slaves] to the farmers, even more than he sent the first time. But the farmers did the same thing to them that they had done before [C the servants represent the prophets God sent to Israel]. 37 ·So [L Finally; Last of all] the man sent his son to the farmers [C the son represents Jesus]. He said, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the farmers saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This son will inherit the vineyard. Let’s kill him, and we will get his inheritance!’ 39 Then the farmers grabbed the son, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. 40 So what will the ·owner [lord] of the vineyard do to these farmers when he comes?”
41 ·The priests and leaders [L They] said, “He will ·surely kill those evil men [bring those wretches/evil men to a wretched/evil end]. Then he will lease the vineyard to some other farmers who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time [C referring to the sinners who were responding to Jesus’ call for repentance, and eventually to the Gentiles who would be saved].”
42 Jesus said to them, “·Surely you have read [L Haven’t you ever read…?] this in the Scriptures:
‘The stone that the builders rejected
43 “·So [For this reason; Therefore] I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to ·people [a nation] who ·do the things God wants in his kingdom [L will produce its fruit]. 44 The person who ·falls on [stumbles over] this stone will be ·broken [shattered], and on whomever that stone falls, that person will be crushed.”[a]
45 When the ·leading [T chief] priests and the Pharisees heard these ·stories [parables], they knew Jesus was talking about them. 46 They ·wanted [were seeking/trying] to arrest him, but they were afraid of the ·people [crowds], because the people believed that Jesus was a prophet.