“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. And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet.
(Matthew 21:33-46 ESV)
Yesterday Jesus told the Jewish religious leaders a second parable which condemned their false beliefs and self-righteous attitudes. The parable not only exposed them for being spiritually ignorant but it also exposed their plans to have Jesus killed. In this regard the parable was prophetic as Jesus was crucified just three days later.
As foretold in the Old Testament, which Jesus suggests these self-proclaimed Scripture experts have never read, Jesus was the stone that the builders rejected; He was the cornerstone [1 Peter 2:6-8].
God uses several different metaphors in the Bible to describe the eternal kingdom He is building here on this earth. One of those metaphors is that of a building made of stone [Ephesians 2:19-20]. In ancient times a masonry structure was started by laying a cornerstone according to which every other stone would be placed and aligned. It was imperative that the cornerstone provide the perfect reference for the other stones or else the structure would be compromised.
When it comes to the family that God is building, Jesus is the cornerstone even though He was rejected by the Jews. Like a cornerstone, Jesus is the reference point from which all truth must be obtained. As we recently learned, it is the truth of Jesus that is the basis for the entire kingdom God is building [Matthew 16:13-20]. Without Jesus there is no truth; there is nothing upon which a successful life can be built [1 Corinthians 3:9-11].
All this was God’s doing and it is marvelous. Salvation is not built on religion, or on good works, or on philosophy, or on saving the environment, or on any of the vain things that the people of this world look to as alternatives. God has provided only one way to be saved and that is through Jesus [John 14:6; Acts 4:10-12].
But since the Jews rejected Jesus the kingdom of God was taken away from them and was given to a people who would believe and demonstrate proof of the power of God (producing the fruits of the kingdom).
The fruit of God’s kingdom is demonstrated righteousness that comes from having turned away from sin and having been filled by the Holy Spirit [John 15:5; Philippians 1:11; Galatians 5:20-21].
The people to whom the kingdom of God was given, of course, were and are the Gentiles to whom God took His message after Jesus’ rejection by Israel. This was another prophetic statement by Jesus. God began to spread the gospel message through the Gentiles beginning with Jesus’ crucifixion and continues to do so to this day.
It was always God’s plan to send His son into the world to redeem mankind by dying on the cross. God knew that His son would be rejected by many, including His beloved Israel, but that the Gentiles would receive His message and take it all over the world.
God has not forgotten Israel, however. Someday God will turn His attention back to His chosen people and this time they will embrace Him [Romans 11:2, 25-26].
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