As Jesus and his disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany, on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead.
2"Go into that village over there,"
he told them, "and as soon as you enter it, you will see a colt tied there that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here.
3If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, `The Lord needs it and will return it soon.'"
The two disciples left and found the colt standing in the street, tied outside a house.
As they were untying it, some bystanders demanded, "What are you doing, untying that colt?"
They said what Jesus had told them to say, and they were permitted to take it.
Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it, and he sat on it.
Many in the crowd spread their coats on the road ahead of Jesus, and others cut leafy branches in the fields and spread them along the way.
He was in the center of the procession, and the crowds all around him were shouting,
Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord![footnote]
Bless the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Praise God in highest heaven!"[footnote]
So Jesus came to Jerusalem and went into the Temple. He looked around carefully at everything, and then he left because it was late in the afternoon. Then he went out to Bethany with the twelve disciples.
Jesus Curses the Fig Tree
12The next morning as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus felt hungry.
He noticed a fig tree a little way off that was in full leaf, so he went over to see if he could find any figs on it. But there were only leaves because it was too early in the season for fruit.
Then Jesus said to the tree, "May no one ever eat your fruit again!"
And the disciples heard him say it.
Jesus Clears the Temple
15When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the merchants and their customers. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the stalls of those selling doves,
and he stopped everyone from bringing in merchandise.
He taught them, "The Scriptures declare, `My Temple will be called a place of prayer for all nations,' but you have turned it into a den of thieves."[footnote]
When the leading priests and teachers of religious law heard what Jesus had done, they began planning how to kill him. But they were afraid of him because the people were so enthusiastic about Jesus' teaching.
That evening Jesus and the disciples left the city.[footnote]
The next morning as they passed by the fig tree he had cursed, the disciples noticed it was withered from the roots.
Peter remembered what Jesus had said to the tree on the previous day and exclaimed, "Look, Teacher! The fig tree you cursed has withered!"
Then Jesus said to the disciples, "Have faith in God.
23I assure you that you can say to this mountain, `May God lift you up and throw you into the sea,' and your command will be obeyed. All that's required is that you really believe and do not doubt in your heart.
24Listen to me! You can pray for anything, and if you believe, you will have it.
25But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too."[footnote]
The Authority of Jesus Challenged
27By this time they had arrived in Jerusalem again. As Jesus was walking through the Temple area, the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the other leaders came up to him. They demanded,
"By whose authority did you drive out the merchants from the Temple? Who gave you such authority?"[footnote]
29"I'll tell who gave me authority to do these things if you answer one question,"
30"Did John's baptism come from heaven or was it merely human? Answer me!"
They talked it over among themselves. "If we say it was from heaven, he will ask why we didn't believe him.
But do we dare say it was merely human?" For they were afraid that the people would start a riot, since everyone thought that John was a prophet.
33So they finally replied, "We don't know."And Jesus responded, "Then I won't answer your question either."