"By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?" (Matt. 21:23)
“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons."Jesus is giving an analogy for two types of people regarding their dealings with God. The son who said he would not help in the vineyard but then didn't represents those who have rejected God.
"He went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work today in the vineyard.'"The topic of Jesus' parable is service. This is our relationship with the Supreme Being. We are His servants - this is why we were created. But notice that the father is giving his son the choice to work in the vineyard - which is why he could say no. They are not slaves, in other words.
The Supreme Being gave us the freedom to love and serve Him or not because love requires freedom to love or not to love - and the freedom to serve or not.
"'I will not,' he answered, but later he changed his mind and went."Jesus is describing a person who rebels against the Supreme Being but then comes to realize they need the Supreme Being. They decide they want to return to their innate relationship with the Supreme Being.
Virtually everyone living in the physical world has rejected the Supreme Being - this is why we are here and not in the spiritual world with God now.
"Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, 'I will, sir,' but he did not go."The son who tells his father that he will help in the vineyard and then doesn’t represents those who take positions of authority amongst organized ecclesiastical religions - in effect representing to others that they are God's representatives, but instead have only their self interests at heart.
Jesus is describing one who is duplicitous, in other words. A hypocritical relationship of outward oaths without commitment.
What is the purpose of this parable and why is this his response to the question regarding Jesus' own authority?
"Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
"Whether of them twain did the will of his father?"
“Which of the two did the will of his father?”
"The first," they answered. (Matt. 21:31)
"Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you." (Matt. 21:31)
And this is the type of relationship that Jesus had with the Supreme Being:
"By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." (John 5:30)
(For a translation of Jesus' statements from the Gospel of Matthew without institutional sectarian influence, see the Devotional Translation - translated from the original Greek texts.)