Matthew 21:23-46 The Message Bible

Jesus' Authority Questioned

23  Then he was back in the Temple, teaching. The high priests and leaders of the people came up and demanded, "Show us your credentials. Who authorized you to teach here?" 24  Jesus responded, "First let me ask you a question. You answer my question and I'll answer yours. 25  About the baptism of John - who authorized it: heaven or humans?" 26  if we say 'humans,' we're up against it with the people because they all hold John up as a prophet." 27  They decided to concede that round to Jesus. "We don't know," they answered. Jesus said, "Then neither will I answer your question.

The Parable of the Two Sons

28  "Tell me what you think of this story: A man had two sons. He went up to the first and said, 'Son, go out for the day and work in the vineyard.' 29  "The son answered, 'I don't want to.' Later on he thought better of it and went. 30  "The father gave the same command to the second son. He answered, 'Sure, glad to.' But he never went. 31  "Which of the two sons did what the father asked?" They said, "The first." 32  John came to you showing you the right road. You turned up your noses at him, but the crooks and whores believed him. Even when you saw their changed lives, you didn't care enough to change and believe him.

The Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen

33  "Here's another story. Listen closely. There was once a man, a wealthy farmer, who planted a vineyard. He fenced it, dug a winepress, put up a watchtower, then turned it over to the farmhands and went off on a trip. 34  When it was time to harvest the grapes, he sent his servants back to collect his profits. 35  "The farmhands grabbed the first servant and beat him up. The next one they murdered. They threw stones at the third but he got away. 36  The owner tried again, sending more servants. They got the same treatment. 37  The owner was at the end of his rope. He decided to send his son. 'Surely,' he thought, 'they will respect my son.' 38  "But when the farmhands saw the son arrive, they rubbed their hands in greed. 'This is the heir! Let's kill him and have it all for ourselves.' 39  They grabbed him, threw him out, and killed him. 40  "Now, when the owner of the vineyard arrives home from his trip, what do you think he will do to the farmhands?" 41  "He'll kill them - a rotten bunch, and good riddance," they answered. "Then he'll assign the vineyard to farmhands who will hand over the profits when it's time." 42  Jesus said, "Right - and you can read it for yourselves in your Bibles: The stone the masons threw out is now the cornerstone. This is God's work; we rub our eyes, we can hardly believe it! 43  "This is the way it is with you. God's kingdom will be taken back from you and handed over to a people who will live out a kingdom life. 44  Whoever stumbles on this Stone gets shattered; whoever the Stone falls on gets smashed." 45  When the religious leaders heard this story, they knew it was aimed at them. 46  They wanted to arrest Jesus and put him in jail, but, intimidated by public opinion, they held back. Most people held him to be a prophet of God.

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