Riddles of the Kingdom: Homicidal Farmers

cornerstone“What is sacred among one people may be ridiculous in another; and what is despised or rejected by one cultural group, may in a different environment become the cornerstone for a great edifice of strange grandeur and beauty”
–Hu Shih

Not content with the temple priests condemning themselves once, Jesus asked them a second riddle:

A landowner planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower. He rented it out to farmers, then went to a far country. When the time the fruit would ripen drew near, he sent his servants to the farmers so that they could receive the crop.

The farmers took his servants, and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. He sent other servants, more than he had sent the first time, and the farmers did the same to them.

Finally the landowner sent his son, thinking the farmers would respect him. But when the farmers saw the son, they spoke amongst themselves: ‘This man is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and seize his inheritance.’ And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.

When the lord of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those farmers?

The priests replied that the landowner would utterly destroy those wicked men, and rent out his vineyard to other farmers who would deliver him the fruits in their seasons.

Jesus said to them:

Did you ever read in the scriptures that the stone which the builders rejected will become cornerstone, and that this is the Lord’s doing? And whoever falls on this stone shall be broken, but whoever it falls on will be ground into powder. Therefore, I say, the kingdom of heaven shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits of it.

Imagine the shock that the priests must have felt at this condemnation. Not only was this preacher from rural Galilee daring to challenge them in their own temple, in the holy city of Jerusalem; he was saying that God would forsake the Jews and bestow the kingdom of heaven on a nation that was able to become truly virtuous. No wonder they wanted to have him arrested, and they would have, but they feared the multitudes, because the people took Jesus for a prophet.

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About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
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