It must have been so frustrating for them, his friends and followers. Why don’t they get it? Why don’t they understand? Why don’t they realize that they have, right here in their midst, the Anointed One we have all been waiting for? Could it be possible that the opposition is so widespread that he might actually be assassinated, right here in the Holy City?
But, gradually, they remembered his teaching. They remembered the times he, like the prophet Isaiah of old, had told stories of vineyards and owners of vineyards and tenant farmers who worked in those vineyards. One in particular stood out: the one about an absentee owner sending slave after slave to these sharecroppers to collect the lion’s share of the produce; and how they were beaten and some even killed; and about his finally sending his son, who was also killed.
They knew that the image of the vineyard had often been used by the prophets to symbolize Israel itself. And so it was no great leap to interpret Jesus’ coded message that he would have to suffer, and even die, as some of the prophets had done, as Israel itself had done. But, would that be the end of it all? Would his life end up as counting for nothing? Would his mission be a failure?
But then, they also remembered a line from Psalm 118, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing and it is amazing to our eyes.” And they recalled the rabbis interpreting this as the essence of Israel’s mission — they would always be despised and rejected as a people, but somehow in God’s own way, they would be instrumental in repairing the world!
Israel would become the cornerstone.
Perhaps — even if the worst should happen — Jesus would too.