Have you noticed what the world esteems is often not valued by God; and the things God honors are often rejected by the world? For example: God looks at the heart while the world focuses on the appearance; the world promotes material success while God celebrates humility; and God acknowledges faith while the world regards works. What God deems as chosen and precious is many times despised by the world.
We see this truth in the Parable of the Tenants, found in Matthew 21:33-45:
“Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them.
Clearly, this parable is specific to the audience it was told. The tenants who beat, killed and stoned the servants of the owner are likened to the chief priests and Pharisees who had been responsible for the beating, killing and stoning of the prophets sent by God through the years. Likewise, the chief priests and Pharisees would soon cause the death of Jesus – the heir – the Son of God – outside the Jerusalem city walls.
Besides the literal application of this parable, there are additional truths to embrace – one being that Jesus is the Cornerstone. Traditionally, the cornerstone of a building is the first stone set in the construction of the foundation. All remaining construction would be set in reference to this stone. Therefore, the cornerstone determines the position of the entire structure. Jesus is described as the Chief Cornerstone in the Kingdom of God. So the entire position and structure of the Kingdom of God is built upon and dependent upon Jesus.
In the story, Jesus said the Cornerstone is rejected by the builders. The chief priests and the Pharisees rejected Jesus – refusing to believe He is the Son of God and necessary for the “construction” of the Kingdom of God. Further, Jesus quoted scripture from Isaiah 8:15, stating that those who fall on the Cornerstone will be broken. This reference in Isaiah 8 is preceded by instruction to not walk in the way of the people, agreeing with all they call conspiracy. Rather, we are to regard the Lord as holy and reverence Him. He becomes a sanctuary to those who believe, and a stone of offense to those who do not.
Paul, in Romans 9:30-33, teaches that the Gentiles attained righteousness by faith in God through Jesus, whereas Israel pursued righteousness by their works. The Israelites stumbled over the stumbling stone – Jesus. Their works had no merit in their attempt to gain righteousness and so they had become offended because of Jesus. However, Paul exhorts those who believe, stating they will not be put to shame, for the righteousness of God can only be obtained through faith in Him.
Finally, in 1 Peter 2:4-10, we understand Jesus is the Living Stone who has been rejected by men, but is chosen by and precious to God. Further, those who are in Christ, believing Jesus to be the Chief Cornerstone, are also living stones who continue to be built up as a “spiritual house.” Honor is said to be the reward for those who believe. Those who choose not to believe will stumble in offense and disobedience.
The choice is ours. Do we believe Jesus is the Son of God – the chosen and precious Living Stone – the Cornerstone set at the foundation of the Kingdom of God? Or have we opted to not believe? Have we stumbled in unbelief, become offended, and rejected the truths of the Living Word.
The fruits of offense and unbelief are brokenness, shame, and destruction. Jesus said He had come to bring us life and life more abundantly. God has set life and death before us, and encourages us to choose life! The time is now. This is the day of salvation. Turn away from offense. Accept Jesus – not just as the Cornerstone for the Kingdom of God – but the Cornerstone for you and your life. Believe upon Him. He is the way, the truth and the life. Just as Jesus is the chosen and precious Living Stone, see yourself also as His chosen and precious living stone, being built up into a spiritual house – a dwelling place for the presence of God and an instrument of His righteousness in the earth.
Holding Fast to Hope