Matthew 21:41-46

Mat 21:41 (KJB)
They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.

Then the religious leaders gave the obvious answers that those who had killed the servants and the son were definitely wicked and the owner will destroy them. In addition, those men will be replaced by other husbandmen who will be honest and will be truthful in dealing with the owner and who will bring forth the required fruit when it is the correct season. The religious leaders in Israel are the ones in view here as they wanted all the fruit for themselves, which included the wealth. They had rejected God’s way of doing things and created their own methods. Very soon, God would take away their place and give it to the people who are going to bear spiritual fruit. These religious leaders cared nothing about the spiritual well being of the people but only cared about their position and status. This will also be the same for those false pastors in the churches who have made merchandise of God’s people and for those who taught false gospels trying to make for themselves a following. (2 Th 1:8-9 KJV) In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: {9} Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; God will take eternal vengeance on those who have taught falsely or acted falsely in His name.

Mat 21:42 (KJB)
Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?

(Psa 118:22-23 KJV) The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. {23} This is the LORD'S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. Then Jesus quotes two passages from the 118th Psalm to explain further to them that they were the ones doing the rejecting. The word “rejected” in the above verse carries with it the meaning of “something which is carefully evaluated and placed under scrutiny,” and by this rejection the word also carries with it the meaning of “declared useless.” In Jeremiah 6:30, God states that because of the rebellion of Judah, He has called them reprobate silver and has rejected them. (Jer 6:30 KJV) Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the LORD hath rejected them. They had thought themselves to be silver of the highest grade because they had Abraham and the Scriptures. The problem is that their rebellion caused them to be the dross on the silver and not the silver. The very stone which the builders had rejected because of their hatred, was the very cornerstone which held all the joints and couplings of the whole building. In other words, without this head cornerstone, the building would crumble. The Lord Jesus was the founder of Israel and He is the head cornerstone.

The builders were those who were the religious leaders in Israel and they rejected the very stone which held the nation together for all those years since the times of the twelve patriarchs. He guided them, protected them, brought them out of slavery, gave them a homeland and was now coming to them to personally fulfill prophecy, but He was rejected, the very one who brought Israel through every time of tribulation and trial in her history. Since the builders in Israel had rejected the Lord Jesus Christ, He was about to do something which was absolutely marvelous and that was to die for His people and to send the gospel of grace worldwide. No longer would He be dealing with only one nation but all the nations of the world.

Mat 21:43 (KJB)
Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

Based upon what Jesus had just told them in the previous verses, their rebellion has finally hit its zenith and it will result in the Kingdom of God being taken from them, that is, no longer would they be the representatives of God on earth but it will be given to a nation that will bring forth the fruits. The word “nation” in the Greek is the word “ethnei” which carries with it the meaning of “Gentiles.” This is a prophecy that the kingdom of God is now going to go to all the Gentile nations of the world and they will bring forth the fruit of other Christians through evangelism. (John 15:8 KJV) Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. It is also interesting that the word “ethnei” is also in the singular which means the truth is going to be given to only one nation and that is not a political nation but a spiritual nation.

That nation is the body of Christ worldwide which is considered one nation. The prophecy in this verse will shortly be fulfilled as Pentecost will begin world evangelism. Another interesting fact is the words “shall be taken” is in the future tense, indicative mood, and passive voice. This means that sometime in the future a definite action of the removal of the Kingdom of God will take place. In the passive mood it means that it will be taken from them by an outside source which is God Himself. No longer would Israel be the representative of God on earth, no matter how the prophecy preachers of today try to make the modern Israel a fulfillment of Scripture. Jesus says the Kingdom of God will be taken from them. Then in like fashion the word “given” is also in the Future Indicative Passive. This means that the body of believers will be given the Kingdom of God in the future and it will definitely happen because Indicative mood means a definite action and it will be passive, that is, it will be placed upon those whom God has chosen to save.

The prophecy pundits keep harping on something they have named “replacement theology.” That is the teaching that the church has replaced Israel and no longer will God be using them or working with them. Well Jesus is God and in this verse He tells them that the Kingdom of God will be taken from them and given to another nation which we saw as the worldwide body of believers. Yes, it is a biblical fact that Israel was replaced with the church, that is, the body of believers worldwide which includes saved Jews. So it is not some type of evil teaching but it is a biblical teaching from the mouth of Jesus Himself.

Mat 21:44 (KJB)
And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.

Here Jesus is giving them a prophecy of double judgment. The first judgment is speaking about His present ministry that those who fall on this stone, that is, those who are offended or stumble over His ministry will be broken. It is a reference to the fact that those who persecute Jesus or His children will eventually suffer in their lives. It is a scenario taken from Isaiah 8:15. (Isa 8:15 KJV) And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken. Then the second judgment which comes on those who reject the Lord Jesus till they die is the fact that when Jesus sits on His throne at the Great White Throne Judgment, they shall be ground to powder, that is, they will suffer eternal damnation for their rebellion against the Lord Jesus Christ. So the first judgment will be in this life and the second judgment will be eternal.

Mat 21:45 (KJB)
And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.

Then it finally dawned on the chief priests and Pharisees that the Lord Jesus had told these parables in reference to them as being the evil husbandmen who killed the servants and soon the son. This would have caused them to be filled with anger. Instead of analyzing the parables that Jesus spoke, especially the one about the cornerstone, they would become indignant and seek to kill Him.

Mat 21:46 (KJB)
But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.

At this time they were unable to seize Him because the people had held Jesus as a prophet and the leaders would be afraid that the people would respond if they, in any way, tried to take Jesus. So they backed off and no doubt went into a meeting to discuss how they could take Him without raising the anger of the people.