The scribes and the chief priests tried to lay hands on Him that very hour, and they feared the people; for they understood that He spoke this parable against them.Luke 20:19(NASB)
Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem caused the leaders of the Jews to become increasingly hostile towards Jesus. They furiously challenged His authority when he overturned the tables of the money changers in the Temple court. They refused to admit that John the Baptist was a prophet from God, for to do so would cause them to acknowledge - by default, that Jesus was the Messiah of Israel.
These religious leaders knew exactly Who Jesus was, but they hated Him because He exposed their hypocrisy. They knew that Christ's claims were authentic but their greed and pride caused them to reject the Redeemer of Israel and Saviour of the world, and so they rejected His message, refused His offer of redemption, and knowingly crucified the Lord of glory.
Jesus authenticated His Messianic claims through signs and wonders and addressed many of their questions by quoting Scripture but He also made use of parables to expose their sanctimonious hypocrisy. It was a simple parable about a good landowner and His evil tenants that Jesus used to expose His critics and restate His own divine authority.
Jesus told how a generous vinedresser leased his vineyard to some tenant farmers, allowing them to work it during his lengthy absence. However, when the time came for him to reclaim his property, he sent some of his servants to get it back, but the leaseholders refused to return it and treated the servants badly.
Finally, the landowner decided to send his son to recover his vineyard, expecting his son to be treated with respect by the tenants, but they not only cast him out of the vineyard but they killed him. Jesus explained to the Jewish leaders and those that were listening that although the greedy tenants thought that by killing the son and heir they would inherit the vineyard, they were mistaken and would be severely punished by the rightful owner.
The reaction of the Jewish leaders is very revealing for we read: "The scribes and the chief priests tried to lay hands on Him that very hour, and they feared the people; for they understood that Jesus spoke this parable against them." Over the course of His ministry, these Jewish leaders had become increasingly uncomfortable about Christ's popularity with the people and had already determined to kill Him. But their concern was heightened as they listened to the parable of the landowner knowing that Jesus had exposed their secret conspiracy to kill Him.
From that very hour, these evil men tried to capture the Lord Jesus secretly and silence Him permanently - because they feared that on hearing the interpretation of the parable, the people who had welcomed Him earlier with cries of Hosannah would realise that they were planning to kill Him. Through His parable, Jesus exposed the real motive behind the Jewish leadership's hatred of Jesus - He laid bare their contempt for God and their unwillingness to be accountable to Him. They considered that removing Jesus would maintain the 'status quo' to which they had become familiar...
However, His time had not yet come - for Jesus had an appointment with the Cross of Calvary where He would lay down His life for the sin of the whole world. Although He was the Stone that the builders had rejected, as was written in Psalm 118, He was to become the Chief Cornerstone. He was the established Foundation - the Dayspring from on High - the Word made flesh.
Jesus is the Stone of stumbling and Rock of offense - the Stone cut without hands Whom Daniel prophesied would crush His enemies; and all who challenge His authority and reject His sacrificial offering will be severely punished for their lack of belief - for He is the Son of God and God the Son.
Heavenly Father, what a blatant display of ignorance the chief priests and scribes displayed, with their constant questioning of Jesus’ authority. They knew Who He claimed to be, but their greed, pride, and fear stopped them from believing in Him. The stone that the builders rejected did become the capstone, and the unbelieving members of the Sanhedrin will be crushed, along with all unbelievers. Lord, thank You that I am numbered in those who have fallen on the stone, and my prideful self was broken when I believed on the name of the Lord Jesus. Keep me low at the Cross and broken before You all the days of my life. In Jesus' name, AMEN.