They came again to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came and asked him, “By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do these things?”
Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; then answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was John’s baptism from heaven or of human origin? Answer me.”
They discussed it among themselves: “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin’”—they were afraid of the crowd, because everyone thought that John was truly a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”
And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
He began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug out a pit for a winepress, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and went away. At harvest time he sent a servant to the farmers to collect some of the fruit of the vineyard from them. But they took him, beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent another servant to them, and they hit him on the head and treated him shamefully. Then he sent another, and they killed that one. He also sent many others; some they beat, and others they killed. He still had one to send, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenant farmers said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill the farmers and give the vineyard to others. Haven’t you read this Scripture:
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
This came about from the Lord
and is wonderful in our eyes?”
They were looking for a way to arrest him but feared the crowd because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. So they left him and went away.
The religious leaders in today’s passage came to Jesus not looking to know more about him, but rather they came to him asking his authority to do all things that he had been doing. And the biggest thing that they were questioning his authority to do was the cleansing of the temple that we discussed yesterday, because as we discussed yesterday Jesus’ cleansing of the temple cut into the religious leaders own profits. And Jesus had some very harsh words for these people who were supposed to be stewarding and shepherding God’s people until his return. Which is ultimately what Jesus’ story about the tenants is all about.
Jesus’ parable of the tenants points out the guilt of the Jewish nation in relation to God’s revelation and their response to Christ. They had become proud and had turned God’s kingdom into a private possession to manage as they please, which unfortunately many of us as modern day Children of God have also done. They, also, showed contempt for God’s Word and refused to accept and obey his Son, Jesus Christ. As I already said some present-day churches show the same attitude as the wicked landowner as they ignore or reject the disciplines and standards of God’s Word. They are showing contempt for God when they ridicule and reject his true messengers, just s those of God’s people who persecuted and killed the Old Testament prophets showed contempt for God, and live by beliefs based on their own ideas.
Jesus ends this story by telling us what the true church should be built by quoting these words from Psalm 118:22-23 “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” Christ is the “rejected” stone, thrown away by Israel and by most people in the world. But he became the capstone or cornerstone of God’s new people—the church. The capstone, literally “head of the corner,” is either the large stone over the door frame, the keystone of an arch or the large stone used to anchor and align the corner of a wall, the main stone in a foundation. In the same way, Christ is the most important stone in this new building—his church. And that is what Jesus meant when he told Peter, “On this rock I will build my church.” The church was not built upon Peter, but was built upon Peter’s bold statement of the truth when he said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus is the cornerstone of the Church and it is upon him and him alone that the foundation of the Church should be built.
Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:
Numbers 4-5, Mark 12:18-37, Psalm 48:1-14 and Proverbs 10:26