When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority?”
Jesus answered them, “I will also ask you one question, and if you answer it for me, then I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Did John’s baptism come from heaven, or was it of human origin?”
They discussed it among themselves, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we’re afraid of the crowd, because everyone considers John to be a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”
And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.
“What do you think? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘My son, go work in the vineyard today.’
“He answered, ‘I don’t want to,’ but later he changed his mind and went. Then the man went to the other and said the same thing. ‘I will, sir,’ he answered, but he didn’t go. Which of the two did his father’s will?”
They said, “The first.”
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you didn’t believe him. Tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; but you, when you saw it, didn’t even change your minds then and believe him.
“Listen to another parable: There was a landowner, who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a winepress in it, and built a watchtower. He leased it to tenant farmers and went away. When the time came to harvest fruit, he sent his servants to the farmers to collect his fruit. The farmers took his servants, beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Again, he sent other servants, more than the first group, and they did the same to them. Finally, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.
“But when the tenant farmers saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those farmers?”
“He will completely destroy those terrible men,” they told him, “and lease his vineyard to other farmers who will give him his fruit at the harvest.”
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
This is what the Lord has done
and it is wonderful in our eyes?
Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruit. Whoever falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will shatter him.”
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they knew he was speaking about them. Although they were looking for a way to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because the people regarded him as a prophet.
Matthew 21:23-46 (CSB)