Prepare to Listen. As you slow down, still your heart and mind with this prayer: See, I have longed for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life.
Prayerfully Read Luke 20:9-19
9He began to tell the people this parable: ‘A man planted a vineyard, and leased it to tenants, and went to another country for a long time. 10When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants in order that they might give him his share of the produce of the vineyard; but the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11Next he sent another slave; that one also they beat and insulted and sent away empty-handed. 12And he sent yet a third; this one also they wounded and threw out. 13Then the owner of the vineyard said, “What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.” 14But when the tenants saw him, they discussed it among themselves and said, “This is the heir; let us kill him so that the inheritance may be ours.” 15So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.’ When they heard this, they said, ‘Heaven forbid!’ 17But he looked at them and said, ‘What then does this text mean:
“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone”?
18Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.’ 19When the scribes and chief priests realized that he had told this parable against them, they wanted to lay hands on him at that very hour, but they feared the people.
We might be tempted to dismiss this parable, thinking it’s not about us. It was told in response to the chief priests and scribes’ skepticism about Jesus’ authority (20:1-2). He didn’t seek their approval, support their ideals or behave in a manner expected of Messiah and they rejected him. The parable was a warning and they knew it was about them. But Jesus told it to the people, not the rulers. And this is why we can’t simply dismiss it as irrelevant today.
It’s a sobering parable. The vineyard tenants, approved by the owner, aren’t nice and had no qualms about committing violence against the owner’s slaves and murdering the son. It’s a relief to hear Jesus state that the owner will destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. But here’s the surprising thing, Jesus’ audience show no relief. They are stunned and protest, “Heaven forbid!” Do they sense that, if their rulers fall, as the parable implies, so too will the nation? Jesus doesn’t elaborate and instead ends with another warning about “the chief cornerstone.” It meant that his authority, that they found unacceptable, would, in the end, bring them down if they persisted in rejecting him.
As the chief cornerstone (a much-quoted verse from Psalm 118), Jesus is the ultimate authority, not merely over our individual lives, but over the entire universe. We’re challenged to consider our image of Jesus and whether we’re willing to accept his authority even when it goes against what we and our community hold dear.
How would you relate this parable to your life today?
Respond to Jesus
Lord Jesus, help me see you clearly so that I courageously follow you, even when it feels like I’m going against what so many believe. I accept you as the chief cornerstone. Amen.
Live obediently. Follow Jesus, the chief cornerstone.
I began reading my Bible when I was 8 years old. I loved it then (albeit didn't understand much) and I still love reading and studying it. I may understand a little more but I keep learning new stuff, seeing things I missed for years. This journey with Luke during Lent has been another new learning experience for me, deepening my relationship with Jesus. I pray it will do the same for you.