Matthew 21:40-46. “When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto Him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The Stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the Head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eye? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this Stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard His parables, they perceived that He spake of them (italics mine). But when they sought to lay hands on Him, they feared the multitude, because they took Him for a prophet.”
“What will the householder do to the husbandmen?,” asked Jesus. Again, the priests and elders were caught on the horns of a dilemma. If they gave the correct answer, that would show that they completely understood the parable. If they lied, it would show them up for the scripturally ignorant men they were. Interestingly, they chose the correct answer. They said, “He will miserably destroy those wicked men!” I think they figured they’d come off better with the truth on this one. Of course, they still weren’t completely convinced that Jesus was Who He said He was, so they were willing to take a chance on being shown up yet again.
The next thing Jesus said was based on Psalm 118:22-23, The builders were the religious leaders of national Israel. Jesus, of course, was the Stone that the builders were rejecting. Cast out of Israel, the vineyard, Jesus would become the Cornerstone of the Church that would spread the gospel to all nations, bringing the truth of salvation by grace through faith to all who would hear. And finally, those who refused the Cornerstone would be destroyed.
What a dramatic prophecy, one that made the chief priests and elders grind their teeth in fury. But they were afraid to lay hands on Him, because the common people still looked on Him as a prophet.
Next week, we’ll start Chapter 22, with another familiar parable, as Jesus sets the stage for accomplishing what He came to earth to do.