Mark 11:27-12:12 (NRSV)
27 Again they came to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him 28and said, 'By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?' 29Jesus said to them, 'I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. 30Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me.' 31They argued with one another, 'If we say, "From heaven," he will say, "Why then did you not believe him?" 32But shall we say, "Of human origin"?' -they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet. 33So they answered Jesus, 'We do not know.' And Jesus said to them, 'Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.'
Then he began to speak to them in parables. 'A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a pit for the wine press, and built a watchtower; then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. 2When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants to collect from them his share of the produce of the vineyard. 3But they seized him, and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. 4And again he sent another slave to them; this one they beat over the head and insulted. 5Then he sent another, and that one they killed. And so it was with many others; some they beat, and others they killed. 6He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, "They will respect my son." 7But those tenants said to one another, "This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours." 8So they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. 9What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10Have you not read this scripture:
"The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 11this was the Lord's doing, and it is amazing in our eyes"?'
12When they realized that he had told this parable against them, they wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowd. So they left him and went away.
How do you respond when someone finds you in error? Do you try to deny or conceal your wrongdoing? Do you react angrily? Do you accept the criticism and the opportunity to change?
My guess is that, at one time or another, each of the above has been true.
The parable that Jesus tells offers his hearers a chance to see themselves and change their ways. They choose otherwise. They allow themselves to be driven more deeply into rage and wrong.
We can take the questions that the parable provokes as an opportunity for course correction. We can ignore challenge and continue to do those things that hurt us and harm those around us. What do you choose?