The Tricks Of The Scribes, Elders and Chief Priests
It was almost time for the Savior to be crucified; albeit unknown to the multitude, the disciples and religious teachers, the time for Him to be betrayed had drawn close. The Chief Priest, the Scribes and the elders came to Jesus whilst he was teaching the multitude with an intention to snare Him by His words. They had looked for different ways on how to arrest Him, bringing an end to the ministry that has instigated people to move away from Judaism and their old ways. Because they were fast loosing the market on deception, all because of Jesus’ teachings and the Gospel He had began to propagate. They wanted to put a stop to what Jesus was doing by arresting Him. Not sure they had an intention to kill Him.
They came to Him when He was teaching in the presence of His disciples and the multitude. They asked Him about the authority at which He did the things He had been doing – the miracles and the teachings. At a time they said He spoke like one who had absolute authority. Nicodemus had confirmed that except God was present in His essence, no one could do the things that Jesus was doing. They were also aware that the people had taken Jesus as one who was endorsed by Heaven and the powers that be.
They asked Him in a subtle way, “Show us your credentials. Who authorized you to speak and act like this?” The Bible records that Jesus asked them what they thought about John the Baptist and what authority or credentials he had. Immediately they were on the spot, and knew it. They pulled back into a huddle and whispered, “If we say ‘heaven,’ He’ll ask us why we didn’t believe Him; if we say ‘humans,’ the people will tear us limb from limb, convinced as they are that John was God’s prophet.” They agreed to concede that round to Jesus and said they didn’t know. Jesus said, “then neither will I answer your question.” They couldn’t get Him this time around.
This led Jesus to speak about another parable – parable of the Husbandmen/Tenants and the vineyard. The characters in this parable are the OWNER of the vineyard, which represents GOD; the VINEYARD represents the NATION OF ISRAEL; the TENANTS personifies the JEWISH RELIGIOUS LEADERS; the landowner had SERVANTS, which represents the PROPHETS who remained obedient to and preached God’s Word to the people of Israel; the SON of the owner represents JESUS and lastly; and the OTHER TENANTS represents the GENTILES.
The idea of this parable is that the land was loaned to the husbandmen and the owner went into a far country with the intention to come again, maybe to seek the fruits of the land or a renewal of their rent. He (the Landowner) sent one of his servants but the husbandmen beat him up and sent him away empty. The owner sent another servant and the husbandmen/tenants did the same thing again even when the third servant was sent. They were all beaten up and were sent away without them achieving the reason why they came. This gives an idea of someone who decides to let out their property to tenants and the tenants have refused to pay rent due to the owner. The owner now decides to send messages about his rent and they ignore him. How could these Jewish religious teachers claim obedience as God’s people and still reject His messengers? This is the contradiction in His story, if they couldn’t answer by what authority John the Baptist did what he did, how would they ever belief Jesus, yet they claimed the self professed Chief priests, Elders and Scribes.
The Landowner decides to send his Son, hoping that the husbandmen/tenants would at the very least have respect for his Son but what they did, was contrary to this. The tenants decided to have a plan amongst them to kill the Son as an opportunity to inherit the land and they believed it. The law at the time provided that if there were no heirs to a particular property, then the property would be passed on to those in possession. This amounts to conspiracy to commit murder by the Jewish leadership, and it is foretelling in the sense that Jesus is now telling them what they are going to do to Him.
They carried out their plan by killing the Son; to the religious leaders, the fight is supposed to be over, but the owner isn’t dead yet. Jesus now asked His audience about their thoughts on what the Owner would do when he appears. Jesus continued by asking a pertinent question again – would the owner come to his land, destroy the husbandmen/tenants and give the land to other tenants? They answered God forbid! Jesus referred them to what the scriptures have said about the rejection of a stone that would end up being the head of the corner. He said anyone who falls on the stone would be broken and if the stone falls on anyone, that person would be grinded to powder. Jesus was referring to Himself as the rejected STONE.
Time ran out on Israel at the coming of the Messiah into this world and Jesus in this parable predicted the ordeal He would go through in the hands of these religious leaders: how they rejected the messengers that were sent to restore things in Israel (He came to His own and they did not accept Him), the treatment of the prophets that came before Him, how they will crucify Him and how the vineyard would be given to other tenants. The vineyard today has been rented out to the Gentiles who will trust and believe in Jesus as the only way to Heaven.
The Chief Priests and the Scribes knew he was talking about them and at that very moment wanted to lynch Him but because of public opinion, they couldn’t carry out their intentions. They feared that the people would cause an insurrection because Jesus was already endorsed as a prophet. They had to go back to the drawing board in their plan to arrest Him.
They came up again with another trick, this time it was trying to get the Gentile Nation and the Governor to arrest Him. They sent spies who posed as honest inquirers, hoping to trick Him into saying something that would get him in trouble with the law. So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you’re honest and straightforward when you teach, that you don’t pander to anyone but teach the way of God accurately. This is just trying to gain acceptance and flattery, because they never really believed that He was a good teacher sent from God. So they asked him, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
He perceived their craftiness knowing that they were trying to trap Him in His utterances. He asked whose image was on the coin, they told him, Caesar and He explained why there is nothing wrong in paying taxes; if they worked and earned money, it was required of them to pay taxes. So He said give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s. They were disappointed at His answer because He gave an answer they were not expecting him to give. They were left speechless and couldn’t carry out the arrest.
Even when Christ revealed the intents of their hearts with the parable they were determined foolishly to carry out this arrest and bring an abrupt end to His ministry. The many things we are determined to carry out and the refusal to think even in the face of good counsel.
It is possible to look and not see and it is also very possible to hear and not understand.