Summary: A sermon for Palm Sunday
“And He began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and rented it out to vine-growers, and went on a journey for a long time. 10 “At the harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, so that they would give him some of the produce of the vineyard; but the vine-growers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 “And he proceeded to send another slave; and they beat him also and treated him shamefully and sent him away empty-handed. 12 “And he proceeded to send a third; and this one also they wounded and cast out. 13 “The owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ 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. What, then, will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 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!” 17 But Jesus looked at them and said, “What then is this that is written: ‘THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone’? 18 “Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.”
The hour was at hand for Jesus to be delivered up into the hands of evil men and accomplish what He had come to do.
He had entered Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey, purged the temple of money changers and merchants, and for this final week of His earthly ministry He would be found daily in the temple, teaching the people and confounding those in opposition who were at this point desperately looking for a way to murder Him without bringing reproach upon themselves.
Jesus Himself makes reference to these days at His arrest in the garden when He confronts them with their own cowardice.
“Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders who had come against Him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs as you would against a robber? “While I was with you daily in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me; but this hour and the power of darkness are yours.”
There can be no argument against an assertion that the chief priests and leaders had murder in their hearts. Sprinkled throughout the gospels are statements very much like the one we see in verse 47 of Luke 19; “And He was teaching daily in the temple; but the chief priests and the scribes and the leading men among the people were trying to destroy Him”
In the verse following our text verses, #19, again it says, “And 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”
We see them trying to trick Him into saying something subversive against the Roman government, they attempt to stump Him or get Him to utter what they would consider heresy by claiming divine authority to purge the temple.
By His actions He has already confirmed His divine authority, but they ask him anyway where He gets the authority, then when He asks them the question about John’s authority and they refuse to answer Him, He refuses to answer them also, not because He wants to evade the question, but because the answer to His is the answer to theirs.
Quite frankly, it is He who stumps them at every turn until they give up and stop questioning Him, as we see in chapter 20 verses 39 and 40.
Jesus goes on teaching the people without interruption, and the next time we see the chief priests, in chapter 22, they are paying Judas to betray his Master.
These things were not done in ignorance. These were not zealous and well-meaning people. They were envious (Mk 15:10), they knew exactly who Jesus was by this time, and even knowing who He was all they could think of was killing Him. So vile were they in their intent that they had no qualms about turning Jesus over to the Roman Governor (20:20), knowing that if the Romans decided to execute Him it would be done in the most inhumane fashion ever devised by the wickedness of the human heart.
Now this should not shock or surprise us. The fact that these were the leaders in Israel, the very cream of the religious elite and the rulers of the nation that was entrusted with the oracles of God does not alter the fact of the depravity of the human condition.