The Son Is the Stone

The Son Is the Stone

Jesus quotes a psalm. He says, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes” (Mark 12:10–11, citing Ps. 118:22–23). In the parable the beloved son is rejected, and in the psalm the stone is rejected. Jesus cites the psalm after telling the parable because he is the rejected son, and the rejected son is the rejected stone. 

On Tuesday of the week Jesus was going to die, he was teaching in the temple courts. Religious leaders tried to trap Jesus with various questions, though he evaded their traps with his superior wisdom. In one scene he told a parable followed by a quotation from a psalm, and we should see this parable and psalm together.

Jesus said that a vineyard owner leased the vineyard to tenants while he went to another country (Mark 12:1). During the season for fruit, the owner sent a servant to the tenants to get fruit, but the tenants beat the servant (12:2–3). Another servant arrived, but they treated him the same way, striking him on the head (12:4). More servants came, and some of them were even killed (12:5). Finally, the vineyard owner sent his “beloved son” (12:6). The wicked tenants saw an opportunity to take out the heir, so “they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard” (12:8).

The parable was about the rejection of those who should have been received. The tenants should not have shamefully treated the vineyard owner’s servants. The treatment of the servants revealed the wickedness of the tenants. And since the tenants mistreated the servants, the momentum of the parable prepares us for the hostile way they will treat the vineyard owner’s son. In the shocking narration of the parable, the vineyard owner’s son dies at the hands of the wicked tenants.

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