The Plan to Kill the Heir


We are continuing from yesterday’s meditation on the topic of the Parable of the Vine-Growers (Luke 20:9-19). After talking about those who refused to give the owner His due of the fruit of the Vineyard, in the middle of the parable, Jesus said to them: 13“The owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? After allowing the question to settle a few seconds, Jesus said, “I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him” (v. 13). When the Lord instead spoke of the Owner of the vineyard sending His son, perhaps many in the crowd suspected that was not a good thing to do. But Jesus carried on with a shocking statement: 14“But when the vine-growers saw him, they reasoned with one another, saying, ‘This is the heir; let us kill him so that the inheritance will be ours.’ 15“So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him” (Luke 20:14-15). All the people listening entered into the story.

Perhaps the tenant farmers thought that, maybe, the owner of the vineyard was now dead and this was the heir coming toward them. This was their opportunity to gain complete control of the vineyard. Those listening to the story were not thinking about the ramifications of what Jesus was saying. They were emotionally involved in the story until, suddenly, He posed another question: "What, then, will the owner of the vineyard do to them?" (v. 15). There were gasps in the crowd, "What should he do?" It was obvious to all of them. The logic was sound. He should destroy them! At that point, Jesus stopped again and let the response come from the people before finally, He said, 16“He will come and destroy these vine-growers and will give the vineyard to others.” When they heard it, they said, “May it never be!” (Luke 20:16).

In verse 16, the Greek word translated as heard means to see with all the implications what Christ was saying. They understood. It clicked. The full impact of the prophetic parable sunk into their minds. That is why they responded with, "May it never be!" The Jewish leaders and nation would lose the authority they had abused. Jesus foresaw the judgment that was to come in 70 A.D. and saw the suffering that would come upon the nation. This judgment would not stop the forward movement of the kingdom of God, as Jesus said; “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). The Kingdom of God's ministry was about to be released to all nations through the body of Christ, the Church, made up of both Jews and Gentiles.

Jesus the Stone Rejected

Jesus carried on by saying, “What then is this that is written: ‘THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE’?” Their horror at Jesus’ words of judgment brought Christ to respond by reminding them of the prophetic word in Psalm 118:22: “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone.” Many translations of the English Old Testament translate the Hebrew word Rosh Pinna into the word Cornerstone. According to my Logos software, the Hebrew word means: “head; hair; a person, individual; height, peak, upper end; beginning; topmost, outermost, best; leader, chief; value, total amount, sum.” When Jesus came the first time, He didn’t fit the blueprint the builders thought they needed, so they tossed Him aside as not a good fit and rejected Him. They didn’t recognize their own Messiah. Later, much later, they will recognize Him for who He is, and give Him the rightful place as the capstone.

The capstone was what completed the building at the apex and brought the walls altogether. In an arch or a temple, the capstone carries the weight of the two sides completing the span. It is a logical thought that, just as the sides of an arch lean over onto the capstone, so the spiritual building that God is constructing leans all its weight on the capstone, Christ Himself. Does the architecture of your life lean on Christ? Have you built this spiritual building that we call life on the Rock of Christ or the sand of your own opinions? (Matthew 7:24). The leaders may have rejected the Stone, but to us who believe, He is precious! Not only is He the Cornerstone of the spiritual building being constructed, but He is also the One holding the structure together. He is the Alpha and the Omega (Revelation 22:13). Jesus is the beginning and the end! He is both the Cornerstone and the Capstone! Keith Thomas

Taken from the 66 free study series in the Book of Luke. Click study 53. The Parable of the Vine-Growers.