What Right Do You Have To Do These Things?
Jesus and his disciples returned to Jerusalem from Bethany. Jesus taught in the temple each day, and he spent evening night on the Mount of Olives. Everyone got up early and came to the temple to hear him teach. And as he was walking through the temple, he was teaching and telling the good news. The chief priests, the nation’s leaders, and the teachers of the Law of Moses came over to him. “What right do you have to do these things? Who gave you this authority?”
“I have just one question to ask you,” Jesus answered. “If you answer it, I will tell you where I got the right to do these things. Who gave John the right to baptise? Was it God in heaven or merely some human being?”
They thought it over and said to each other, “We can’t say that God gave John this right. Jesus will ask us why we didn’t believe John. On the other hand, these people think that John was a prophet and we are afraid of what they might do to us. So we can’t say that it was merely some human who gave John the right to baptise. This crowd will stone us to death!” So, because they were afraid of the crowd, they told Jesus, “We don’t know.”
“Then I won’t tell you who gave me the right to do what I do,” Jesus replied. “I will tell you a story. It’s about a man who had two sons. Then you can tell me what you think. The father went to the older son and said, ‘Go work in the vineyard today!’ His son told him that he would not do it, but later he changed his mind and went. The man then told his younger son to go work in the vineyard. The boy said he would, but he didn’t go. Which one of the sons obeyed his father?”
“The older one,” the chief priests and leaders answered.
Then Jesus told them, “You can be sure that tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you ever will! When John the Baptist showed you how to do right, you would not believe him. But these evil people did believe. And even when you saw what they did, you still would not change your minds and believe.”
Next, Jesus told the chief priests, the leaders and the people this story.
“A land owner once planted a vineyard. He built a wall around it and dug a pit to crush the grapes in. He also built a lookout tower. Then he rented out his vineyard and left the country for a long time. When it was time to harvest the crop, he sent a servant to ask the renters for his share of the grapes. The renters grabbed the servant. They beat him up and sent him away without a thing. So the owner sent another servant. The renters also beat him up. They insulted him terribly and sent him away without a thing. The owner sent a third servant. He was also beaten terribly and thrown out of the vineyard. Then he sent more servants but renters grabbed those servants too. They beat up one, killed one, and stoned one of them to death. He then sent more servants than he did the first time. But the renters treated them in the same way.
“The owner had a son he loved very much. The owner then said to himself, ‘What am I going to do? I know what. I’ll send my son, the one I love so much. They will surely respect him!‘ When the renters saw the owner’s son, they said to one another, ‘Someday he will own the vineyard. Lets kill him then we can have it all for ourselves.‘ So they grabbed the owners sonant killed him. Then they threw his body out of the vineyard.”
Jesus asked, “When the owner of that vineyard comes, what do you suppose he will do to those renters?”
The chief priests and leaders answered, “He will kill them in some horrible way. Then he will rent out his vineyard to people who will give him his share of grapes at harvest time.”
Jesus replied, “You surely know that the Scriptures say: ‘The stone that the builders tossed aside is now the most important stone of all. This is something the Lord has done, and it is amazing to us.‘ I tell you that God’s kingdom will be taken from you and given to people who will do what he demands. Anyone who stumbles over this stone will be crushed, and anyone it falls on will be smashed to pieces.”
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard these stories, they knew that Jesus was talking about them. So they looked for a way to arrest Jesus. But they were afraid to, because the people thought he was a prophet.