Matthew 21:23-32 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
Jewish Leaders Doubt Jesus’ Authority
23 Jesus went into the Temple area. While Jesus was teaching there, the leading priests and the older leaders of the people came to him. They said, “Tell us! What authority do you have to do these things you are doing? Who gave you this authority?”
24 Jesus answered, “I will ask you a question too. If you answer me, then I will tell you what authority I have to do these things. 25 Tell me: When John baptized people, did his authority come from God, or was it only from other people?”
The priests and the Jewish leaders talked about Jesus’ question. They said to each other, “If we answer, ‘John’s baptism was from God,’ then he will say, ‘Then why didn’t you believe John?’ 26 But we can’t say John’s baptism was from someone else. We are afraid of the people, because they all believe John was a prophet.”
27 So they told Jesus, “We don’t know the answer.”
Jesus said, “Then I will not tell you who gave me the authority to do these things.
Jesus Uses a Story About Two Sons
28 “Tell me what you think about this: There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first son and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
29 “The son answered, ‘I will not go.’ But later he decided he should go, and he went.
30 “Then the father went to the other son and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ He answered, ‘Yes, sir, I will go and work.’ But he did not go.
31 “Which of the two sons obeyed his father?”
The Jewish leaders answered, “The first son.”
Jesus said to them, “The truth is, you are worse than the tax collectors and the prostitutes. In fact, they will enter God’s kingdom before you enter. 32 John came showing you the right way to live, and you did not believe him. But the tax collectors and prostitutes believed John. You saw that happening, but you would not change. You still refused to believe him.