They [the chief priests and elders of the people] said to Him [Jesus], “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons.” Jesus said to them,
“Did you never read in the Scriptures,
‘THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED,
THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone;
THIS CAME ABOUT FROM THE LORD,
AND IT IS MARVELOUS IN OUR EYES’?
Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it. And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.” When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them. When they sought to seize Him, they feared the people, because they considered Him to be a prophet.
– Matthew 21:41-46 (all caps is quotation from Psalm 118:22-23)
Today’s scripture picks up where yesterday’s left off. You’ll recall that Jesus told a parable about the owner of a vineyard who rented it out to vine-growers who, when the harvest came, refused to give the owner his portion. Moreover, these vine-growers mistreated all of the representatives that the owner sent to them, ultimately killing the owner’s son so that they could control the vineyard.
After telling the parable, Jesus asks the chief priests and elders what they think the owner of the vineyard will do in response. Not realizing that they were, in effect, pronouncing judgment on themselves, the religious leaders said that the vine-growers deserved a harsh consequence and should be replaced.
At this point, Jesus invokes a scripture known to the religious leaders: Psalm 118:22-23. Realizing that Jesus is equating the murdered heir of the parable to the rejected stone of Psalm 118, they then realize that He is portraying them as the “builders” in Psalm 118 and therefore the corrupt vine-growers in His parable. This provokes the religious leaders, ironically, to “seize” Jesus – the very behavior that Jesus’ explanation of the parable assigns to them. Within the week, they would crucify Jesus – Jesus the Son, Jesus the heir, Jesus the stone.
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord Jesus, You are the heir of God. Therefore, we should show You all the devotion due to God. Help me live this day for You…(this is where you remain quiet in order to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.
(All scriptures, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the NASB.)