Objection – Authority
1: And it came to pass, that on one of those days, as he taught the people in the temple, and preached the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes came upon him with the elders, 2: And spake unto him, saying, Tell us, by what authority doest thou these things? or who is he that gave thee this authority? 3: And he answered and said unto them, I will also ask you one thing; and answer me: 4: The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? 5: And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then believed ye him not? 6: But and if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us: for they be persuaded that John was a prophet. 7: And they answered, that they could not tell whence it was. 8: And Jesus said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.
9: Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time. 10: And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty. 11: And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty. 12: And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out. 13: Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him. 14: But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. 15: So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them? 16: He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid. 17: And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? 18: Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. 19: And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and they feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them.
Question – Taxation
20: And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor. 21: And they asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly: 22: Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no? 23: But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me? 24: Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar's. 25: And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's. 26: And they could not take hold of his words before the people: and they marvelled at his answer, and held their peace.
As Christ is teaching in the Temple the religious leaders accost him to ask what authority he has to teach. Remember that in the previous passage they were plotting to murder him somehow. Christ answers their question by asking one of his own. The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? They had to think about this! They were caught in a trap. If they said from heaven then he would challenge them as to why they did not believe in his message. But if they said, from men, then they would loose favour with the people. So they said we are not sure!! Christ was not playing ball either. So he said if you won’t answer my question, l will not answer yours. Then Christ tells a parable very similar to the parable he had just told the disciples. Except that this is a vineyard. The vineyard and the vine are always symbolic of Israel in scripture. So what does the husbandman, the owner of the vineyard look for? He looks for fruit. So he sent servants to obtain fruit but the keepers of the vineyard beat him and sent him away empty. So he sends another servant. But they beat him too and treated him shamefully. The owner sent a third and him they wounded and threw him out. Then we have a very touching phrase - Then said the lord of the vineyard, what shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him. The owner of the vineyard – the Father had high hopes for Israel. But they were dashed. When the keepers saw the son they said let us kill him! - Which they did. Then Christ asks them a question what will the owner of the vineyard do? And the whole history of Israel past present and future hangs on this question. There is silence. So Christ answers his own question. He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. The religious leaders were horrified. They said, God forbid. Those who say there is no future kingdom and no future for Israel will have to explain what the owner of the vineyard will do next? We know that Christ was rejected but when will the owner return and give the vineyard to others who will bring forth fruit to the glory of God? Then Christ pushed his teaching further. He quotes scripture, what is this then that is written, the stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? Christ may be rejected now but one day he will become the head of the corner. The head or corner stone is the first stone to be laid in a house. When Christ returns he will establish himself and all other stones will be laid in relation to him. Then he prophesies concerning his enemies, he says, whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. The religious leaders had had enough, that very hour they planned to arrest him but they were still afraid of the people. They sent spies to catch him out so that they might find a cause of death. One spy came asking if they as Jews should give tribute to Caesar. Christ saw through their craftiness and answered the question in such a way that even Caesar would have agreed. Yet in his answer he still pressed home his message of accountability to God. They were amazed at his answer and it silenced them.