This parable was told by Jesus in relation to the chief priests in relation to how they had failed. They were given a responsibility by the Lord and they failed in their responsibility. What is worse they abused their position to try and gain power and position instead of offering service that was required of them in their positions as priests in God’s temple. For this they were rejected.
Jesus showed that their situation was like a man who built a vineyard and let it out to tenants. God was the builder, the world, or more specifically the Israel nation was the vineyard and the priests were the tenants. The priests were charged with the responsibility of their office to rule the people according to God’s law. They were to teach the people God’s law and ensure his ways were followed.
Instead they abused their position for power and personal gain. And this was not just in Jesus’ generation, but had been going on for many generations prior to this.
In the parable the man who owned the vineyard sent servants to receive the profits of the business and they beat or killed the servants so that they could keep it all to themselves. This was an abuse of their power. In the same way God sent his servants, prophets and righteous men to teach the people and to try to bring the people back to his ways. But the religious leaders of the days and the evil kings had them beaten and killed so that they would not lose their positions of power.
Then we see the vineyard owner send his son, but the tenants conspired and killed the son thinking that this would be the end and they would have realised their wicked aims. Likewise Jesus, the Son of God, came to the earth to bring the people back to worshipping and honouring the Lord and the chief priests conspired together and had him killed.
Naturally they chief priests were annoyed at Jesus for telling this parable for it showed them up for their evil doing. But it also showed that instead of ridding themselves of this problem man by the name of Jesus, they actually fulfilled the will of God. For it is in the death of Jesus that we receive life. It was in the death and resurrection of Jesus that the Lord God drew mankind back to him. And it was through the death and resurrection of Jesus that he dispossessed the priests and threw down their power so that access to God became available to all of mankind.
They lost the inheritance and it was given to others, just as the evil tenants lost the inheritance they tried to take by force. The inheritance went to Jesus Christ as the Son of God and we have access to the inheritance of the Son through coming to Christ.
(Picture sourced from stock.xchng http://www.sxc.hu/ taken by Gavin Kerigan)