March 6, 2015 – The Cornerstone
Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people, “Hear another parable. There was a householder who planted a vineyard, and set a hedge around it, and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country. When the season of 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. Afterward 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 cast 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 very stone which 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 nation producing the fruits of it.
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. But when they tried to arrest him, they feared the multitudes, because they held him to be a prophet.
Jesus is speaking to the chief priests and elders – in other words, those who have studied scripture their entire lives. The parable Jesus tells is of God creating the earth and providing good food and drink. He left and let people thrive. When it was time for the harvest, He sent His servants, prophets, and other godly people, yet the chief priests and elders did not believe these messengers were sent by the owner of the harvest and instead killed them. God then sent us His Son, because certainly we would respect His Son, right? Instead, we took Him out and killed Him, too.
Jesus then poses a question to them: what should the owner do to the tenants? The answer to a question to a parable posed by Jesus usually condemns the person answering, in this case, the priests and Pharisees who were the bad tenants. We hear the prophets and those sent by God, yet we fail to believe in those whom He sent and we fail to repent and follow the Son. God is building a beautiful kingdom, but the Pharisees rejected the stone that God chose to be the cornerstone. They threw it out and tried to crush it, as we do when we reject Christ and His teachings. No matter what they do and no matter what we do, Jesus is the cornerstone Who was hand-picked by God, and God built His kingdom on that cornerstone. For those who reject it, the Kingdom will be taken from them, and given to those who do believe in the one true and living God.
Finally, there are two actions that can be taken when we are convicted of sin. We can repent and ask for forgiveness, or we can turn to hate and plot against it. Do not be like the Pharisees and priests who hated Jesus for pointing out their sinfulness. Do not reject the Son sent by the land owner. Do not arrest the Savior who is pointing out our sin. Do not prevent His welcoming us into the vineyard of the Kingdom of God. Jesus came to the world to save it, not condemn it. Jesus wants to save us from our sin, but we must not harden our hearts when our sin is revealed to us. We must run to Jesus and ask for forgiveness.
Lent in Action:
Kick out the sin that is in your heart and welcome Jesus in.
Lord Jesus, you are the cornerstone, the one whom I am guilty of rejecting. Please forgive me for the times when I did not believe or have faith in you and the one who sent you. Help me to turn away from sin instead of turning away from you. Show me my greatest sin so that I may go to Reconciliation and ask for forgiveness before we celebrate your glorious Resurrection on Easter Sunday. I ask this in the name of the Lord. Amen.