Gospel Matthew 21:33-46
After being confronted by the chief priests and the elders–representatives of the Sanhedrin–and asked to justify his authority, Jesus continued his response with another parable. He reminded them of an ancient Israel tradition: the telling of Vineyard Tales.
Our confusion about how to read this parable is built into its role and place in Matthew’s Gospel. This exchange between Jesus and the chief priests and elders is set in Jerusalem near the end of Jesus’ ministry. This final section of the Gospel before the passion narrative gazes stereo-optically at Jesus’ own life and ministry and at the church that will carry on his witness to God’s reign after Jesus’ approaching passion, death, and resurrection.