Luke 20:17-19 (NIV) Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone’? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”
The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him immediately, because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people.
The Pharisees and teachers of the law were in a very hard place. They had plotted against Jesus, but their plots seemed to be known by Him before they could spring them. It was like Jesus knew what was in their very hearts. And now He was repeatedly exposing them and their treachery to the people He was teaching.
They knew that the parable He had just finished teaching was about them, and it galled them. But He wasn’t done yet. Instead of responding to the people, Jesus instantly transitioned to another parable, based on Psalm 118:22, depicting a building stone that was rejected by the builders of the temple, ostensibly because it was the wrong shape to fit into the existing structure, and no tools were permitted on the temple site with which to reshape it (1 Kings 6:7). In the Psalms passage, that same stone was found to have been cut by the chief planner to be the chief cornerstone for the new temple; the stone that, once it was in place, would determine the orientation of every other part of the temple.
Jesus capped off this imagery by pointing out the truth that anyone who fights against this stone, Himself, would end up destroying themselves in the process. He was trying to warn these leaders away from the reckless course of defiance and rebellion against God that they were already rushing down. He knew that it would ultimately result in their shame, their discipline, and their destruction, and it broke His heart. But they wouldn’t listen. Their anger at being called out only intensified their determination to bring Jesus down.
Father, the resistance of these leaders, even in the face of Jesus’ repeated warnings and condemnation, really is tragic. They did ultimately break themselves against the impervious rock that was Jesus; a great tragedy. Lord, help us to always work with You, and to never set ourselves against You. That is always a losing proposition! Amen.