Questions on Authority and the Chief Cornerstone

from Luke 20:1-19

One day Jesus was teaching the people in the temple courts, proclaiming to all the good news…. when the chief priests and teachers of the law and the elders came up to question His views..

“Who gave you this authority?” they asked, for He’d just driven out all who would buy or sell.  He’d said they’d made the temple a den of thieves, rather than a house where prayer could dwell.

Jesus answered them back with a question of His own about whether they could recognize…if John the Baptist’s ministry was of his own initiative–or was it divine in God’s eyes?

Before they answered, they debated among themselves on which answer would be best.  If they said it was from heaven, they knew He would ask why they then hadn’t believed John was blessed.

But if they said John was acting only on his own, they feared they would actually be stoned… for all the people felt that John had been a prophet, and such an answer wouldn’t be condoned.

So their final reply on where John had gotten his authority was that they really didn’t know–  Then Jesus answered them that neither would He reveal the source of His ministry’s flow.


Jesus went on to tell the story of a man who planted a vineyard and decided to rent it out.  He journeyed to a distant land for some time, but sent one of his servants back on the route…

to collect his share of the harvest one day; but the renters beat him, and he returned in lack.  The vineyard owner sent a second, then a third servant, who also received the same kind of an attack.

So he came to consider that he would send his only son–surely, they’d give respect in that case–   Well, they not only beat him, but they killed the heir as well, thinking then they might own the place.

Jesus asked what they thought the owner would do to those who had done this thing…. He said he would come to destroy them in turn and give the vineyard to others whom he would bring.

This upset the chief priests, teachers, and elders as they realized he was speaking of them in the story.  Some said no one would do such a thing, but Jesus brought up scripture that spoke to them of His glory….

What was the meaning, then, He asked, of “The stone which the builders rejected–has become the chief cornerstone” — Of course, therein His own life and ministry were reflected.

You see, the Jewish nation was the vineyard; the chief priests and others like them were tenants of the land.  Through the years they’d not heeded God’s servants, the prophets–now His Son they were rejecting on every hand.

This parable speaks of God, the Father, who sent His prophets, then His Son, Jesus Christ, the Messiah and Lord. As in the parable, He’ll return through His Son–and those who’ve put faith in Him will have great reward….

P. A. Oltrogge

“The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.”  Psalm 118:22

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