33 “Listen closely,” Jesus said, “I’ve got yet another story to tell you -- and yes it involves a vineyard. Think of Isaiah 5:1-7 and Psalm 80:8-16. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He made all the typical improvements -- such as fencing it in, digging a winepress, and building a security tower. Then he rented it to tenant farmers and left the area to go on a trip. 34 At harvest time, he sent some of his servants to collect the rent from the tenant farmers -- a share of the crop. 35 But the farmers attacked his servants -- beating some, killing some, and hurling stones at some of the others.
36 “The landowner sent a second, even larger group of servants to collect rent. But those tenants -- they treated them in the same exact way. 37 Finally, he sent his son thinking that they’d respect him.
38 “But when the tenant farmers saw the son arrive, their greedy minds went into overdrive, and they said to each other, ‘This guy is the heir. If we take him out we can squat here until it becomes ours and who will be able to stop us -- the old man? The whole estate will be ours!’ 39 So they bushwhacked the son, dragged him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
40 “What do you think will happen to those scoundrels when the owner of the vineyard himself shows up?”
41 The religious leaders piped-in, “He’ll put those evil men to a horrible death and then he’ll find new tenants to lease his vineyard -- people who will pay him his share of the fruit at the harvest.”
42 Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you ever read Psalm 118:22-23, The stone discarded by the builders has become the cornerstone of the foundation. This is the wonderful doing of the Lord himself -- so amazing that we’re stretched to believe what we’re seeing? 43 Now, don’t miss the point -- the emerging regime of God will not belong to you. It’s being yanked from your hands and handed over to a people who produce the fruit of the kingdom. 44 Whoever trips over this rejected stone will actually end up crushed by it. For the stone crushes the person who falls on it. Noodle on that for awhile.”
45 Now while the chief priests and the Pharisees were dense, they were smart enough to eventually realize that Jesus’ story was about them. 46 So they were trying to arrest him. But they couldn’t pull it off because they were afraid of what the crowds might do to them. In contrast to the religious leaders, the people thought that Jesus was a prophet.