Markby Robert M. Solomon
Though He refused to answer their question about His authority, Jesus did provide an answer that the religious leaders did not expect. He told a story. An owner of the land planted a vineyard and rented it to some farmers, and went away for quite a while. When harvest time came, he sent a servant to get his rightful share of the fruit, but his servant was beaten and sent away empty handed. Other servants who followed were treated just as badly, and some were even killed. Then the owner sent his own son, who he thought would be respected. But they killed him too. Jesus then said that the owner would return to destroy all those who killed his son.
It is clear what Jesus was referring to. The owner of the vineyard is God. We read in Isaiah 5:7 that ″The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the nation of Israel.″ God sent many prophets to the unfaithful nation, only to be rejected. Then He sent His only Son, Jesus, who would be killed by them.
Here then is the authority of Jesus. He is none other than the Son of God, and He has the authority of God himself, far above any others. But the Jews rejected the authority of Jesus. Instead they were trying to kill Him. This would be held against them.
Jesus quoted Scripture (″The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone″; Psalm 118:22) to say that He would have the final word and determine the final outcome. This Palm Sunday psalm introduces the coming of the Messiah. How people respond to Him will determine their destiny. ″Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed″ (Luke 20:18). Jesus has the authority and power to both forgive (those whose hearts are broken by His message) and punish (those who reject Him).
The religious leaders knew that Jesus was referring to them and dared not reply, because they could not. Their authority was man-made and feeble and they were afraid of the people (v. 12). Their authority, it seems, was made or broken by the people, not God. They were more afraid of people than they were of God. How pathetic!
Why did Jesus answer the religious leaders with a parable? Why is it difficult to refute a parable? They ″left him and went away″ (v. 12). What should they have done? How do Christians walk away from a parable of Jesus?
What does the parable say about the authority of Jesus? How is His authority expressed in the disciple's life? Assess your own experience in the light of this.