Jesus then began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 2 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. 5 He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed.
6 “He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’
7 “But the tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.
9 “What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10 Haven’t you read this passage of Scripture:
“‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
11 the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes?”
12 Then the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away
The day after Jesus cleared the Temple, He comes back. As you can imagine, Jesus made quite the impression His first day there. The religious and cultural leadership begins to question this young rabbi from Galilee. Who does He think He is after all?
Jesus, as He often does, responds with a story. It’s the story of a wealthy farmer who planted a vineyard, and left it for stewards to manage. When harvest time came, he sent his servants to collect the fruit. In yesterday’s reflection we learned that Jesus had already declared the temple as not producing fruit. Jesus keeps the fruit theme alive here, tying neatly these stories together.
The stewards of the vineyard rejected the servants. They mocked them. They killed them. They beat them. Then the rich farmer sends his son thinking they would respect his son. Instead, they kill the son and declare themselves as the rightful inheritors of the estate. The farmer had no other choice but to judge them.
Jesus then quotes Psalm 118. (Bible trivia – what is the most quoted Psalm in the Bible – if you guessed Psalm 118 you would be right). The people had shouted a portion of Psalm 118 to Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem (Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord). Jesus quotes a different section. The rejected stone of the building becomes the cornerstone of something new. This was God’s marvelous work. The religious establishment figured out quickly that Jesus was talking about them. They were keeping people from the fruit of God’s grace. They were the ones rejecting the Torah, the prophets, and the writings. They would reject God’s son. When Jesus is crucified and dies, a Roman soldier cries out, “Surely this was the Son of God.” A pagan soldier recognizes Jesus. The blind see Jesus. The deaf hear His call. The lame jump for joy. But the ones who were supposed to see Jesus can’t recognize Him.
As we continue in Holy Week, let’s remember to see the real Jesus. Jesus is the Messiah that calls us to servanthood. Christ’s power is displayed in weakness, not strength. It is in humility, not pride. It is in sacrificial love and the power of the cross where we see the Messiah. The Messiah who was raised from the dead. Do you see Jesus?