A Reading From Matthew 21
And Jesus entered the temple, saw those who sold and bought in the temple, and he sat back and told them that God loved them.
And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, â€œHosanna to the Son of David!â€ they were indignant, and they said to him, â€œDo you hear what these are saying?â€ And Jesus said to them, â€œOh gosh you’re right, I’ve committed the cardinal sin of offending you, even though everything I said was completely true (me being the Son of God and all).”
And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there, but made sure first the inn was Millenium Development Goals compliant.
Jesus Curses the Fig Tree
In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, â€œMay no fruit ever come from you again!â€ And the fig tree withered at once.
When the disciples saw it, they balked, saying, â€œHow incredibly judgemental are you or what? Who made you God that you can decide whether the fig tree did anything wrong?” And Jesus answered them, â€œTruly, I say to you, the fig tree was a metaphor for the fruitlessness of some who claim to be fruitful but actually..” But he didn’t get any further because two of his disciples mentioned that they were founder members of the Fig Tree Christian Fellowship and it was utterly prejudiced and bigoted of Jesus to be so literalist in his observation that the fig tree had no fruit. “How do you know it doesn’t privately bear fruit?” asked Judas who promptly wrote and celebrated a liturgy of repentance from ficuscaricaphobia. And Jesus gave him one of those looks.
The Authority of Jesus Challenged
And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, â€œBy what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?â€ Jesus answered them, â€œReally, I read it in the Bible, but I’m starting to appreciate that it should just be viewed as a Bronze Age religious text, perhaps with some snippets of inspiration. On reflection though it’s really clear most of it is just people’s opinions, so actually all I’m doing is sharing my opinion.”
“That said, I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you something that will make you feel good. What’s more important? Telling people the truth or making them feel nice?”. So they answered, â€œWe do not know.â€ And he said to them, “Good grief, a moment ago you were dead certain you knew that what I was doing was wrong, yet now you aren’t prepared to tell me what you think is actually correct. What are you? Unitarians?”
The Parable of the Two Sons
â€œWhat do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, â€˜Son, go and work in the vineyard today.â€™ And he answered, â€˜I will not,â€™ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, â€˜I go, sir,â€™ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?â€ They said, â€œWell the first, but if he points out to the second one that he hasn’t done what the Father asked him to do we’ll call him a hypocrite and make sure that we completely obscure the message of grace and repentance that your parable is trying to teach.â€ Jesus said to them, â€œTruly, I say to you, you don’t like anyone being told they’re sinners do you?”
The Parable of the Tenants
â€œHear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, â€˜They will respect my son.â€™ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, â€˜This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.â€™ And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?â€ They said to him, â€œTell them that he loves them?â€
Jesus said to them, â€œEr no, not exactlyâ€.
John, the disciple who Jesus loved, said to him, “Dude, I’m planning on writing that ‘God is love’ and you’re putting a real downer on that by constantly telling us what God’s love looks like. Can you not just leave it to us to decide what it means for God to love people without ruining it with all this holiness and sin rubbish? I mean, the stuff you talk about, I like to do that so it can’t possibly be sin. I can’t believe in a God who would…”
But before he could finish Jesus had vanished in a cloud of anthropogenised theodic illogicality.
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them, but by that time the men who claimed to be Jesus’ disciples had pretty well undermined the parables and turned Jesus into just a nice bloke who told everyone just to be nice, so they wondered why they had thought up the idea of killing him in the first place.