“Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”
“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.”
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
“‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”
It’s often easier for us to see faults in others than in ourselves. In the same way, the chief priests and elders who listened to Jesus’ parable quickly handed down a verdict and swift punishment against the wretched tenants in the story while failing to recognize that Jesus told the parable against them. In Jesus’ story, the tenants mistreated the servants and then killed the vineyard owner’s own son. Jesus asked what judgment should fall on those greedy, violent tenants, and his listeners rightly called for judgment against them.
What the religious leaders failed to understand was their own sinfulness. The parable was like a spiritual mirror held up to the hearts of those who opposed Jesus and who would end up calling for his crucifixion. Jesus was the stone the builders rejected. Many people in that generation wanted a different messiah, a savior who fit their political, economic and social agendas. Just as their ancestors ignored and persecuted God’s prophets, they turned against God’s own Son.
Despite the specific application of the parable to First Century religious leaders, Jesus’ words still speak to us. First, we are warned not to fall into the trap of judging others while overlooking our own sins. Even good, church-going folks like us sometimes ignore what Jesus says or think we have a better plan than God. Second, we are reminded that God provided for our salvation in a marvelous and surprising way. Through faith, we understand that Jesus is the perfect cornerstone, but there are many people who still reject him, wishing for a different sort of savior. We don’t take that bait. We don’t fall for the temptation to reshape Jesus into a culturally-acceptable, politically-correct spiritual guru. We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to some and foolishness to others, but good news and new life to those who believe.
Thank You, Father, for giving us such a marvelous Savior and for inviting me to find new life in Him. Show me the ways I fall short of Your perfect will, and help me to reflect Jesus’ goodness and light more perfectly into the lives of others. In His name I pray. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian