Last week we heard the parable of the workmen and the vineyard: a story of discipleship and the Jewish people. Jesus has taught that His followers will be first in the kingdom and that God’s first possession, Israel, will be the last. Jesus is now about one week away from His passion, death, and resurrection. As we join Him today, He has made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem accompanied by shouts of “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest!”.
He continues His teaching of the disciples, now in the Temple courts. While He is teaching, He has been approached by the chief priests and the elders (representatives of the Sanhedrin) who question where He gets His authority. He has replied that His authority comes from John’s baptism; then asks them if this authority is from heaven (in which case, why didn’t they believe Him) or from man (in which case, they will offend the many followers of John)? Those questioning Him refuse to answer so Jesus illustrates His point with a parable.