But Jesus looked around at them and said, “What then does it mean in the Bible when it says, 'The very stone which the builders refused, now for the corner’s top is used’? “Everyone who falls on that stone will be smashed to smithereens; but if it falls on anyone, it will crush them.” Luke 20:17-18 Jesus doesn’t seem to present His audience with much of a choice here. Would you like to be smashed or crushed? It hardly seems to make a difference. How could someone listening to Jesus make a positive decision at this point? How could Jesus hearers avoid the doom that Jesus seems to be predicting?
The Chief Priests were challenging Jesus’ authority ever since He came into town and forcefully declared that disaster was coming upon the Temple which was the source of the Priestly classes’ power and wealth. Jesus’ response was to tell a parable to suggest that the Priests were already aware that they had overstepped their bounds and had actually laid claim to God’s own property. Now when Jesus, the rightful heir to the priesthood and more besides, arrived, the Priests were plotting to kill Him and seize the inheritance for themselves. In order to do this, they are going to have to cast Jesus aside, like a stone which builders regard as worthless. But after they have cast Him aside, Jesus is declaring, they will find that God will vindicate Him. This is a story much like the story of Joseph and his brothers. The brothers were jealous of Joseph and they sold him into slavery without a clue that their betrayal was part of God’s plan for their own salvation. Joseph would be delivered from the hands of the Egyptians and from the doom that Joseph’s brothers planned for him, so that Joseph might become the means of salvation for those who betrayed him! In essence, what Jesus is saying about the stone is that either way you try to be rid of it, He is the stone that God has chosen as the focal point and center piece for the building of His new temple. Dismiss it and it will crush your head, toss it aside and you will fall over it and be broken. No matter what you do, God’s purpose is going forward and His Messiah will accomplish it. There isn't actually a choice being offered here. This is simply a prophetic declaration.