“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 reminded the people He was speaking to that He was the one predicted in the Old Testament who would come from God but who would be rejected by some but who would become the cornerstone – the one around whom God would build His kingdom. As we continue this passage today Jesus continues to use the metaphor of a stone to describe Himself and the only two outcomes for each member of the human race.
Each person has ultimately two options in this life. They either accept Jesus or they don’t. In the end, nothing else anyone ever does, says, or thinks will matter. As we’ve learned on more than one occasion in our study of Matthew’s gospel, one’s opinion of Jesus determines that person’s eternal destiny.
God wants us to come to the point in our life where we are broken to pieces as a result of the realization of our sin. God wants to break us of our pride and self-righteousness and the only way to do that is to fall on this stone (Jesus). Some people, but not many, will do this [Matthew 7:13-14].
The other option is to oppose Jesus. In the end this will prove pointless as anyone who does will experience His judgment for sin and will be found guilty. Jesus will, spiritually and metaphorically speaking, crush that person. Opposition to Jesus is to destroy ourselves.
Notice that in either case the stone is not broken. Jesus is not on trial in this life, although His many opponents like to think He is. These people think they are defeating God with their lifestyle or through man-made legislation or by beheading His followers. No. Jesus doesn’t lose. No man can fight against God and win.
We are the ones on trial. Each of us is guilty of sin and as such faces God’s judgment. The only way of escape is to willingly and intentionally “break” ourselves by falling on Jesus, admitting our guilt, and accepting the forgiveness that is only available through Him [Isaiah 6:5; Luke 5:8]. We must stop trusting in ourselves and our own self-perceived goodness, which doesn’t really exist [Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:10; Matthew 7:21-22].
Again we see that one’s stance when it comes to Jesus cannot be neutral. Everyone will either be broken before Jesus of their own initiative or will be crushed by Him on judgment day. Surrender or opposition: these are our only choices [Matthew 12:30].
God gives everyone the information they need, just as the religious leaders to whom Jesus was speaking in this passage. They knew exactly who He was – the evidence was clear and convincing. But they were too self-absorbed to admit the truth about Him or themselves. They chose their sin over their eternal existence. Bad move.
The better choice is to fall on the Cornerstone today and be broken by Him from your pride and self-righteousness than to have that Stone fall on you on judgment day and crush you.
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