Can You Argue With A Parable?

Certainly not!

Luke 20:9-18 (ESV)

And he began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent yet a third. This one also they wounded and cast out. 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.”

It seems odd that they would argue with a parable. “Surely not!” they say.

But this crowd is mostly people who have been following and listening to Jesus. They know who He is and so they recognize that this parable is really about God and Israel. Horrified at the implications, they shout out their objection.

Jesus’ response, quoting Psalm 118:22, is particularly hard hitting. The crowds had just quoted Psalm 118:25-26a during Jesus’ triumphal entry when they shouted “Hosanna” (in Matthew 21:9 and John 12:13).

Save us, we pray, O Lord! O Lord, we pray, give us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

“Hosanna” is a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew word for, “save us.” Everyone gets this. So Jesus adds another detail.

Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.

What sets this parable apart from all the others is that one of the characters is clearly meant to be Jesus.

So this parable isn’t just abstract teaching. What’s happening in the parable isn’t a moral lesson; it’s a prophesy. That’s what gets everyone so upset.

Then Jesus turns up the heat even more – quoting well known prophetic verses that describe terrible consequences. This will send the scribes and the Pharisees into fits.

It almost looks like Jesus is trying to get himself crucified.


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Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.