“No One Walks Away The Same”
The Parable of the Tenants is one that is often misunderstood; the characters can be easy to place (the landowner is the Father and Christ is the Son), but the severity of it goes unnoticed. Jesus is standing before the ones who are currently plotting to kill Him and who will soon crucify Him telling them a parable of grace, mercy, and judgment. This is one of Jesus’ final warnings He is able to give to the Pharisees before the cross—will they listen?
As Christ is finishing his story, He looks directly at the Pharisees to make sure they hear His words and asks them a question about words they are familiar with found in Psalm 118—“What is the meaning of these words?” Christ is reminding them of prophecies told long ago about who Jesus was and the ones who would reject Him, and the Pharisees understand completely what He is saying! They know He is challenging them, telling them that they are the ones that have been warned about for generations, that they are ignoring the Cornerstone—the one on which all salvation hinges. Their reaction tells us much about their pride.
When we all hear of the good news of Christ, His payment of our sin and his resurrection, no one walks away the same. When Zacchaeus hears the gospel just one chapter before this one, he is led to repent, repay those he has wronged, and rejoice! The news of salvation takes some major humbling on our part to admit we cannot do it ourselves; when the Pharisees hear Jesus say He is the Cornerstone (or, the foundation of their faith), they are not moved to tears or to repentance; rather, they are moved to anger and hatred! In verse 19 we see that the Pharisees hear their need for Jesus and they want to arrest and kill him on the spot, showing their self-preservation trumps their deepest need of being fully known and loved. Jesus is unrelenting with extending the hand of grace, but we see that the Pharisees do not accept it time and time again. Jesus reminds us in the final verse of the final destination of man—either we reside with Christ, or we will be crushed under the weight of judgment.
Luke 20:9-18 (ESV):
9 And he began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while. 10 When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. 12 And he sent yet a third. This one also they wounded and cast out. 13 Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ 14 But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ 15 And 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 destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!” 17 But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written:
“‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone’?
18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”