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.”
When the people heard this, they said, “God forbid!”
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 cornerstone’[a]?
18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”Luke 20:9-18 (NIV)
A great storyteller can communicate an idea or a message in a way which makes an impact on a listener. Some stories are told to communicate a moral lesson such as many of the fables told by Aesop on Hans Christian Andersen. Other stories are told to make a listener aware of how actions can lead to dire outcomes. A great storyteller not only transports the listener into the scene but can also captivate their attention for a period of time. Jesus was a great storyteller.
Jesus once again turns to telling a story in our passage today as a method to share a message. He is engaged in a power struggle with the Jewish leadership in the temple. The story which Jesus shares here involves a landowner, farmers who are renting his vineyard, three servants, and the man’s son. When the owner sends the servants individually to collect his portion of the harvest, the renters beat each one and send them back empty-handed. The man then sends his son because he thinks the farmers will respect the son’s authority. However, the renters see this as an opportunity to obtain the son’s inheritance so they kill him. Jesus asks what the landowner will now do and then answers his question. He tells the listeners that the landowner will go and kill the farmers then give the vineyard to others. After hearing this story, it becomes clear that the story is referencing the prophets and Jesus. The way the Jewish leadership had treated prophets over the years is how the owner’s servants were treated. The killing of the son parallels the future killing of Jesus by the Jewish leadership. Jesus points out that the one who is going to be rejected is the one who will crush the rejectors.
This is a good story which impacted the listeners of that time. What can it possibly say to us today since Jesus has already been rejected, killed, and arisen? There is a message for us in these words. This strong message involves rejection. We reject Jesus when we choose to hide our decision to follow him. We reject Jesus when we do not follow his example of communicating God’s love in actions and words. We also reject Jesus when we are too busy to be in conversation with him, learn about him by studying the Word, or offer our praise to him in acts of thanksgiving. When we do not listen to God’s messengers, or even treat them poorly, we reject Jesus.
As we continue to grow as followers of Christ, we learn that our choices and actions may have results we struggle to see, The story which Jesus uses to create an awareness among the Jews, can create an awareness among Christians. It is doubtful that any would purposely reject the Lord. When made aware, we likely would have a response like the Jews, “God forbid!” Yet few of us can say that we have not engaged in at least one form of rejection listed above.
Thank your Jesus for making us aware!