The passage for today is Mark, 12:1-12, where Jesus tells the story about the vineyard owner who built a wonderful vineyard, then moved to another country. When he sent his servants to gather his share of the harvest, the farmers who leased the land beat up the servants and sent them back empty-handed. This happened several times, until the owner sent his only son. The farmers, recognizing exactly who this was, killed him too so they would finally control the land.
At this point, I can just see the gleam in Jesus’ eye, as he pauses dramatically before he asks the question, “What do you think the owner did next?”
When the crowd gave the obvious answer that the owner should get rid of the farmers and lease the land to others, I am sure that Jesus smiled to himself. What a grand opportunity to make his point! His voice probably lowered, he leaned forward or shifted his stance and became more intent of getting his message across. The crowd leaned closer and quieted, holding their breath to hear his words.
Jesus would have taken a moment to look over the crowd, searching for the men for whom this message was directed. They stood in the back, on the fringe, not engaged so much as eavesdropping. Even over a distance of 10-12 yards, he made eye contact. Then he said with complete authority, “The stone that the builders rejected will become the cornerstone.”
A hush falls over the crowd – people are astounded at these words and they immediately start talking among themselves, trying to decipher them. But there was one group of men who were pierced by the sharp arrow of the message – the religious leaders who were standing at the back of the crowd. They knew that Jesus was talking directly to them, and they slunk away to make their plans in private.
Amazing to know your truth so intimately that you stare death in the face of religious leaders and not flinch. What an awesome display of conviction!