[Illustration: Christ in the Temple
Painted by C. A. Slade]
Then Jesus went into the Temple, and drove out those who were buying and selling there. He upset the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of those who sold doves, and would allow no one to carry any goods through the Temple. For he said to them, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it a den of robbers!" When the chief priests and scribes heard of it, they began to look for some way of putting him to death, for they feared him because all the people were deeply stirred by his teachings. But each evening he and his disciples left the city.
Then once more Jesus and his disciples entered Jerusalem, and as he was walking about the Temple, some high priests and scribes and elders came and asked him, "By what right are you doing these things, and who gave you this right?" Jesus answered, "I will ask you a question; answer me, and I will tell you by what right I do such things. What about John's baptism? Was it from God or from men? Answer me." They argued among themselves, saying, "If we answer, 'From God,' he will ask, 'Why then did you not believe in him?' But if we say, 'From men'" -- they were afraid of the people, for the people believed that John was truly a prophet. So they answered Jesus, "We do not know." He said to them, "Then I will not tell you by what right I do these things.
"But give me your opinion. A man who had two sons went to one of them and said, 'Son, go and work in the vineyard to-day.' And the young man answered, 'I will not'; but afterward changed his mind and went. Then the man went with the same request to the other son, who said, 'I will go, sir'; but he did not go. Which of the two did as his father wished?" They answered, "The first." Jesus said to them, "I tell you that tax-gatherers and sinners will enter the Kingdom of God before you; for John showed you the way to an upright life, and you did not believe him. But the tax-gatherers and sinners believed him; and even when you saw, you would not say that you were wrong and believe in him.
"Listen to this: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, and set a hedge around it, dug a pit for the wine-press, and built a watch-tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. At vintage time he sent his servants to the tenants to collect the fruits of the vineyard, but they took the servants and flogged one, stoned another, and killed another. Then he sent other servants, more than at first, but they did the same to these. Finally he sent his son, saying to himself, 'They will respect my son.' But the tenants said to one another, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.' So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Now, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to these tenants?" They said, "He will destroy the wretches and lease the vineyard to others who will give him the fruits in their season."
Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the scriptures:
"'The stone which the builders rejected
When the high priests and the Pharisees heard these stories, they knew that he was speaking about them, and they wished to seize him but were afraid of the common people who regarded him as a prophet.