Luke 20 v 17 – 18 Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written:
“The stone the builders rejected
Has become the corner stone
Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”
Jesus now points his listeners to the dire consequences of rejecting the Owner of the Vineyard and his son whom he loves. This refers of course to God and His Son whom he sent to be the Saviour of the world.
The Owner would respond to his son’s murder by destroying the workers, and giving his Vineyard to others. In other words God’s work on earth would pass out of the hands of the Jewish Priesthood, and then in time, out of Israel altogether.
Notice the reaction of the crowd when Jesus said this. “May this never be” they said. (v16) Jesus’ words were a real shock to them. It was inconceivable that anyone else could be God’s people and that anyone other than the appointed priests could succeed in handling God’s affairs in this world.
What was Jesus really saying to them? He was tacitly telling them that they would succeed in putting him to death, but that the Owner of the Vineyard would eventually vindicate him after his death.
Furthermore Jesus was telling them that his depiction of what would happen to him was predicted in Scripture. Already Psalm 118 verse 26 was quoted by the crowds back in chapter 19 v38 when he entered Jerusalem. Now he quotes from this Psalm once again, this time from Psalm 118 verse 22.
The “builders” refers to the priests and religious leaders. The “capstone” refers to the keystone in the building project and refers to the Lord Jesus Christ.
The key stone was the Messiah. But the builders rejected him. No matter, he would still become the keystone.
Jesus warned the people what would happen if they rejected the “keystone” of true worship- the Messiah himself. There would only be brokenness, ruin and destruction. All opposition would eventually be crushed.
Notice the reaction of the teachers and priests in v 19. They knew very well Jesus was speaking about them. Jesus was becoming dangerous. He was opening people’s eyes to the truth. Therefore they must plan to silence him. For the moment they were afraid of the reaction of the common people. But their moment would come.
Never forget that the solemn words of judgement mentioned in verse 18 were made by the same person who wept over Jerusalem in chapter 19 verses 41 – 44.
Remember God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, and neither should we.
These are solemn thoughts.