THE OPPOSITION – Jerusalem
As soon as Jesus revealed himself and started to teach, many quickly recognized him and they flocked to listen to him. Cornelius and the disciples struggled to keep the excited crowd from overwhelming him. It was a good thirty minutes before the priests realized what was happening. It was not long until Cornelius and the other disciples noted a delegate of priests and scribes making their way through the crowd towards them. They paused at the edge of the crowd and listened to what Jesus had to teach for another twenty minutes.
“Teacher,” called out one of the scribes somewhat disdainfully. “Tell us by what authority do you do these things, or who gave you this authority?”
“I shall also ask you a question, and you tell me what your answer is. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men?”
The delegation started whispering among themselves. Cornelius almost laughed out loud. He knew that they were caught in their own trap. If they answered, ‘from heaven’ then Jesus could ask them, ‘why did you not believe him?’ But if they say, ‘from men’, then all the people around them who believe that John was a prophet could raise up against them and even stone them.
Then the same scribe who was not so smug anymore, answered him, “We do not know!”
Then Jesus said, “So, neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
Some in the crowd started to laugh but quieted down as some of the scribes scowled at them. So, Jesus addressed the crowd with a parable about a rich man who planted a vineyard and rented it out to a group of vine-growers. This rich man then went off on a long journey leaving the tenants a long time thinking that they were the sole owners. When the rich man returned he sent his servants to the tenants to receive some of the produce of the vineyard that was due him. The tenants refused and beaten the servant and sent him away empty handed. They did the same thing to every servant he sent. Finally the rich man decided to send his own beloved son in the hopes that they may respect him. When the tenants heard that he was sending his son they reasoned among themselves that if they killed the heir then the inheritance would be theirs. So, when the son arrived they killed him.
Then Jesus looked at the scribes and the priests and loudly asked, “What, therefore, will the owner of the vineyard do to them?”
Some of the scribes started to nervously look around. Someone from the crowd boldly called out and said, “He will rightly destroy the vine-growers!”
Jesus looked at the delegation again and said, “What then is this that is written, ‘the stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone?’ Everyone who falls on that stone will the broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.” [Matthew 21:42-44 NASB]
The story continues on in my next post.
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