One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up and said to him, “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.” He answered them, “I also will ask you a question. Now tell me, was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?” And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, Why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From man,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” So they answered that they did not know where it came from. And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
And he began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent yet a third. This one also they wounded and cast out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!” But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written:
“‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone’?
Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”
Comment: The first bit sounds like – ‘What right have you got to say what you’re saying? The answer (in my words) ‘Ok but first, you answer a question for me. Did John the Baptist have the authority of God or was he just another man?’ They then argue among themselves seeking to save their own skins. If they had said that John was nothing more than a man, the masses, who believed John was a prophet, would have rioted. If they answered from God, Jesus would have said then why don’t you believe what John said about me. They replied ‘we don’t know.’ As a cover up they claimed ignorance. Then I won’t answer either! Saying, in essence, you know already and you’re just playing around with me. A lesson we should learn – we can’t play around and seek to fool God!
Then, in a parable, Jesus hits them with reality. Jewry was known as the vineyard of God, so they knew He was speaking about them. At harvest time the owner (God) sent workers (prophets) whom they killed. Then the owner sends his heir (Jesus) and they kill him (What the leaders are planning to do to Jesus). Even a fool would have known to where this conversation was leading. They were forced to answer that the tenants (the Jewish leaders) would be dealt with. In the strongest terms Jesus warned them – Judgement is about to come, swift and certain.
Prayer: I cannot fool you God. Forgive me that sometimes I try to do just that.