33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.
35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.
38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”
41 “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”
43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”
45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46 They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.
It never ceases to amaze me that Jesus can read a man’s heart. In this parable He exposes the Pharisees plot to kill Him. Let’s look at the imagery in the Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers:
(1) the landowner—God
(2) the vineyard—Israel
(3) the tenants—the Jewish religious leaders
(4) the landowner’s servants—the prophets and priests who remained faithful to God and preached to Israel
(5) the son—Jesus
(6) the other tenants—the Gentiles (V41)
In this parable, Jesus tells us that God (the landowner) sent His prophets (the servants) to Israel (the vineyard). The religious leaders (the tenants) beat one (Jeremiah 26:7-11; 38:1-28), killed another (tradition says Isaiah was killed; John the Baptist had been killed, Matthew 14:1-12) and stoned a third (2 Chronicles 24:21). Jesus is telling the religious leaders here that God’s prophets had often been ridiculed and persecuted by God’s people.
Next, in verse 42, Jesus ask the Pharisees, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ” ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? (This text is taken from Psalms 118:22-23) Here Jesus uses a standard Jewish manner of speaking that involved asking questions and often, through this exchange of questions, causing the answer to be realized. Indeed, through asking this question, Jesus get’s His hearers to pronounce judgement on themselves (verse 45).
Let’s look at what the LAB Commentary say’s about cornerstones/capstone’s:
“Cornerstones and capstones were valued architectural pieces. Stone masons demonstrated their ability by choosing just the right rock. Cornerstones anchored and shaped the foundation of a large building. They had to be square and solid. Capstones required a special shape. They were the final piece in an arch. Jesus is both cornerstone and capstone. Jesus’ role gives shape to all of history. His presence defines the church. Though rejected by those who should have known better, Jesus was placed in the honored position by his heavenly Father. Make Jesus the cornerstone of your life.”
Now we get to the meat of Jesus’ teaching. Jesus draws attention to His words by saying, “Therefore I tell you “ (verse 43) , indicating that what He is about to say is important. He then proceeds to rebuke the Pharisees by telling them that their rejection of the message of the prophets and finally of the Son Himself. He tells them that the kingdom of God shall be taken from them—the Gospel shall be taken from them, and given to the Jews and the Gentiles….the church, who will receive it. The kingdom will be given to those who bring forth fruit to the glory of God. This is a lesson that we must certainly heed today! We must recognize that Jesus is the cornerstone, the capstone, in our lives.
I must point out that the next verse, verse 44, “He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.” is omitted in some versions as it is not in many of the older manuscripts. It may have been inserted later, copied from a parallel passage in Luke (Luke 20:18). I believe what is being said in this verse is that one can be broken with repentance by “falling on” Jesus……..however, if one refuses to repent the result will be judgement.
Finally, I would point out that what is said in verse 46, “They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.” indicates that Jesus was widely regarded by the people as a prophet.
Today’s CLUE: Jesus tells us that the kingdom of God shall be taken from those who reject Jesus’ message and indeed Jesus Himself, and given to those that repent and follow Christ…those who receive the message. We must recognize that Jesus is the cornerstone, the capstone, in our lives.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?