I will tell you a story about a man who had two sons. Then you can tell me what you think. The father went to the elder son and said, “Go and 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 and work in the vineyard. The boy said he would, but he didn't go. Which one of the sons obeyed his father?
“The elder 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.
Jesus told the chief priests and leaders to listen to 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 let his vineyard and left the country.
When it was harvest time, the owner sent some servants to get his share of the grapes. But the tenants grabbed those servants. 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 tenants treated them in the same way.
Finally, the owner sent his own son to the tenants, because he thought they would respect him. But when they saw the man's son, they said, “Some day he will own the vineyard. Let's kill him! Then we can have it all for ourselves.” So they grabbed him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
Jesus asked, “When the owner of that vineyard comes, what do you suppose he will do to those tenants?”
The chief priests and leaders answered, “He will kill them in some horrible way. Then he will let his vineyard to people who will give him his share of grapes at harvest time.”
Jesus replied, “Surely you know that the Scriptures say,
‘The stone that the builders
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.