In the last days of Jesus’ life before the resurrection, He entered into Jerusalem exactly as Zechariah had prophesied hundreds of years before. He drove the moneychangers out of the temple and healed some blind and lame people. When He went again into the temple the next day, the Pharisees, chief priests and members of the Sanhedrin came to Him as He was teaching, interrupted Him and asked, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?”
He asked them a question about the validity of John’s baptism, which they would not answer. So He refused
He opened the parable with a rhetorical question, “But what do you think?” but He already knew their evil thoughts. The first story is about a man with two sons. He asked the first to go to work in the vineyard, but he refused. Later, he regretted it and went to work. The father asked his second son to go to work, and he agreed, but didn’t go. Jesus asked, “Which of the two did the will of his father?” They answered correctly, “The first.” Then Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him.”
to answer their question. He then told them two parables, the first recorded in Matthew 21:28-32.
The second parable in Matthew 21:33-46 is also recorded in Mark 12:1-11 and Luke 20:9-19. While these religious leaders were still scratching their heads, Jesus said, “Hear another parable.” He told about a landowner who leased his vineyard to vinedressers, workers who should have been qualified to cultivate and prune the grapevines. When the grapes were ripe, the owner sent servants to receive the fruit, but those overseeing the vineyard beat one, killed one, and stoned another. The owner sent more servants, more than the first time, but they were all treated the same, despised, beaten, tortured and killed. Finally, the owner thought that if he sent his son, his son would be respected.
But when they saw the son, they said, “This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.” So they killed him. Then Jesus asked the religious leaders, “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?” Their answer was astonishingly astute. “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.”
Jesus was about to confirm their answer. He asked them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?’ Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.”
The Pharisees and chief priests finally realized that He was speaking about them, and though they desperately wanted to arrest Him, they feared the multitudes of people who believed that Jesus was a prophet. In their hardness of heart and unbelief, these so-called spiritual leaders of the vineyard, Israel, in opposing Jesus, had foretold their own doom. No matter how hard they tried to entrap Jesus in His words, He always dismantled their resentful reasoning and exposed their hypocrisy. In the next chapter in Matthew, Jesus continued teaching in the presence of these impostors. It was another parable about how Israel and its treacherous leadership were the prophesied builders that were rejecting Him, The Stone, Who was to become the Foundation for the spiritual temple of God.