Luke 20:9-16 (NIV)
9 He went on to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time.
10 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed.
11 He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed.
12 He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out.
13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’
14 “But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’
15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. “What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them?
16 He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”
On verses 9-16a: Who do the different characters in this parable represent? The vineyard owner represents God the Father. The vineyard represents God’s kingdom. The tenants of the vineyard most likely represent Israel and, more particularly, the chief high priests, teachers of the law and Israel’s elders, who had been entrusted with a lot of God’s kingdom but were mismanaging much of it. The servants sent by the vineyard owner represent the prophets. The vineyard owner’s son represents Jesus. By telling this story of how the tenants beat and humiliated the vineyard owner’s servants and sent them away empty-handed, Jesus is illustrating how Israel shamefully and disrespectfully treated the prophets God sent to them. When the story turns to how the vineyard owner sends his son whom the tenants kill, Jesus is showing that he is fully aware that Israel’s religious and political leaders were bent on killing him. When Jesus describes how the vineyard owner will eventually kill the tenants, this shows that Jesus was trusting his Heavenly Father to defend him and avenge him. Through this parable, Jesus was predicting his death at the hands of Israel’s leaders and how his Heavenly Father would justify, defend and avenge him.
Luke 20:16b-17 (NIV)
16 …When the people heard this, they said, “May this never be!”
17 Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone’?
On verses 16b-17: The people, possibly cluing into the meaning of Jesus’ parable, are dismayed and reply, “May this never be!” (v16) In response, Jesus looks at the chief high priests and teachers of the law and quotes Psalm 118:22 where it says, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone”. What is a cornerstone? Back in Jesus’ day, when builders constructed a building, the most important stone was the cornerstone. The cornerstone was placed at the bottom corner of a building, joining two walls and carrying the weight of the rest of the building. Without that cornerstone, the entire building would collapse. Jesus compares himself to a stone that is rejected by Israel’s leaders but will become the cornerstone, the most important stone on which God builds His church.
Luke 20:18 (NIV)
18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”
On verse 18: Continuing the picture of Jesus as the cornerstone, Jesus teaches a powerful lesson in this verse: all of us have a choice. Either you can fall on the cornerstone that is Jesus, humbling yourself before Him, admitting your sin, and being broken in the process, trusting God to restore you by His power. Or you can, by rejecting Jesus and incurring God’s judgment and wrath, cause that stone to fall on you and crush you completely. Neither choice is comfortable, but far better is it to fall on that stone than having that stone fall on you.
Lord Jesus, thank You that You are the cornerstone, the one who was rejected by people but who has become the rock on which God’s entire church is built. Thank You for choosing to go through so much suffering and rejection, allowing Yourself to be broken and crushed for us, so that we could be restored and brought back to the Father. Be the cornerstone of my life. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!