As the caviling Pharisees stood there in silence before Jesus, he looked down on them and said: “Since you are in doubt about John’s mission and arrayed in enmity against the teaching and the works of the Son of Man, give ear while I tell you a parable: A certain great and respected landholder had two sons, and desiring the help of his sons in the management of his large estates, he came to one of them, saying, ‘Son, go work today in my vineyard.’ And this unthinking son answered his father, saying, ‘I will not go’; but afterward he repented and went. When he had found his older son, likewise he said to him, ‘Son, go work in my vineyard.’ And this hypocritical and unfaithful son answered, ‘Yes, my father, I will go.’ But when his father had departed, he went not. Let me ask you, which of these sons really did his father’s will?”
And the people spoke with one accord, saying, “The first son.” And then said Jesus: “Even so; and now do I declare that the publicans and harlots, even though they appear to refuse the call to repentance, shall see the error of their way and go on into the kingdom of God before you, who make great pretensions of serving the Father in heaven while you refuse to do the works of the Father. It was not you, the Pharisees and scribes, who believed John, but rather the publicans and sinners; neither do you believe my teaching, but the common people hear my words gladly.”
Jesus did not despise the Pharisees and Sadducees personally. It was their systems of teaching and practice which he sought to discredit. He was hostile to no man, but here was occurring the inevitable clash between a new and living religion of the spirit and the older religion of ceremony, tradition, and authority.
All this time the twelve apostles stood near the Master, but they did not in any manner participate in these transactions. Each one of the twelve was reacting in his own peculiar way to the events of these closing days of Jesus’ ministry in the flesh, and each one likewise remained obedient to the Master’s injunction to refrain from all public teaching and preaching during this Passover week.
--Presented by the Midwayer Commission, from the Urantia Papers.