“‘Then the owner of the vineyard said, “What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.” 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.” And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.’ When they heard this, they said, ‘Surely not!’ 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?” Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.'”- Luke 20:13-18.
“In the presence of wilful hypocrisy, and stubborn rebellion against God, Jesus becomes no longer meek and mild and gentle; but the wrath of the Lamb flames out; and here it was revealed, under the shadow of His Cross.”- G. Campbell Morgan, Commentary on Luke.
As His last week on earth continues, Jesus gives us a shadow of what is to come. He tells the parable of the vineyard and the tenants, a frightening story of an owner of a vineyard who leases his land out to tenants to keep for him while he is away. He then sends three servants, one after the other, to gather some of the fruit of the vineyard from the tenants. Each time the tenants beat and cast out the owner’s servant. Finally the owner sends his “beloved son,” his pride and joy, to the tenants. Instead of beating him, the tenants, in a defiant act of utter rebellion and conspiracy, kill the owner’s son in hopes that they will then be able to possess the vineyard themselves. Has not God sent prophet after prophet, messenger after messenger, to His people and have they not been mocked, beaten, and cast out by those who were charged with looking after God’s earthly possession, His people? This was the history of the Jewish nation for the most part. So Jesus tells the people and the religious leaders what will happen to Him. He is the Beloved Son, the Father’s pride and joy, the very radiance of God, Himself. Days after proclaiming this parable, Jesus will be murdered at the hands of the religious leaders, the very tenants of God’s people, in an act of utter hatred and desperation. God’s people, as they shout “Crucify Him!” grab at the Kingdom of God and try to depose God as ruler and king. They try to take the kingdom for themselves. As the people marvel at the story, Jesus takes us deeper into the meaning of His passion. Through His rejection, suffering, and ghastly death, He will be raised as the very Cornerstone of God’s Kingdom. Shadows of Good Friday and Easter morning permeate this parable. Forgiveness, adoption, and glorious salvation are to be found in Him alone because of the suffering He experienced on behalf of His people. Through His death He is exalted, lifted up as the One Way to God, the One Way to true life. And, as the Cornerstone wields judgment and wrath, those that reject Him as King and Savior will be broken and crushed into pieces.
What can we learn from this? Though the parable shows us the history of Israel specifically, we can see the horrible nature of our own sin as well. Sin is an assault upon the Kingdom of God, a willful act of rebellion and attempted insurrection. When we trade the worship of God for the worship of technology, other people, ourselves, our children, our houses, and all other things, we are attempting an overthrow of God’s Kingdom, proclaiming “My way is king! My king is me!” What we can learn from this rebellion is that it cannot and will not succeed. The greatest rebellion and the greatest attempted overthrow of God’s Kingdom ever committed, the crucifixion of the Beloved Son, only resulted in the Beloved Son becoming the very Cornerstone of the Kingdom, the very doorway to Paradise. We must learn here, as the great Borg line from Star Trek says, that “Resistance is futile.” God is bigger than our hatred of Him, and He works our own sin for His good plans. We simply don’t have the divinity to mess up God’s plans and kingdom. We must repent of our rebellion, whatever specific areas in our lives that we have traded God for either evil things or traded Him for His gifts, and submit ourselves under His rule. And if He is our Cornerstone, we simply cannot fail. For when there is a sure and solid Cornerstone, there is certain victory. We can cast ourselves upon the Cornerstone for help and salvation, and He will surely save. But the warning still stands. If we persist in rebellion, we will be crushed and broken in final judgment. Easter brings with it two great promises. If we persist in our unbelief and rebellion, there remains for us only condemnation and darkness. If we turn, however, from our sin to faith in the Cornerstone as our only Savior and King, we will be established, saved, and secured. “Resistance is futile.”