Jesus Christ is the stone that the builder rejected. But what does this analogy mean? Why did Jesus make that analogy of the stone that the builder rejected to the priests in Jerusalem?
Jesus often talks about houses in his parables and analogies. He talks about the kingdom of God as a house, the church as a house and likens those who hear his words as being like houses built on rock or sand. The analogy of a house or a building is used often in Jesus ministry. Here too we see the building of a house as the basis of this teaching.
A builder builds all houses and they are put together following a definite process. A builder has a plan, obtains materials, lays out the job on the ground and commences. Before the invention of concrete, the foundations of a house were made using heavy lumps of rock and stone. These were laid on the ground or in trenches and then the rest of the house was built on top of them.
All houses and buildings even today are begun in the same way. They all commence building from a corner and the very first stone laid is the most important. This stone is called the head of the corner or the cornerstone. Why is it the most important stone? The position of this first stone determines where every other part of the structure will lay. If this cornerstone is put in the wrong place, then the rest of the house will be in the wrong place. If this cornerstone is not laid straight and square, the rest of the house will not be straight and square. Choosing a cornerstone then is critical to the quality of the building of the house and ensuring the completed product is what was planned.
Now when we bring this understanding to the teaching of Jesus in this section, we see that he says, “The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner.” In the previous section of this chapter we see that the priests, Pharisees and scribes had rejected Jesus. But Jesus was to be the foundation of the New Covenant. He knew he would be put to death, and this was in God’s will, as he also knew death could not hold him and he would be resurrected. His death issued in the New Covenant and this is the new building of which Jesus is the cornerstone and foundation.
The New Covenant rests solely upon Jesus Christ’s teachings and his sacrifice for us. We enter that building through Jesus Christ as he is the door to life, as he says in John 10:9, “I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” How do we enter through Jesus? By being baptised into his death. When we are baptised we go down into the water and symbolically take on the death of Jesus as our own death. By this we die to sin, die to the law and die to the world. When we are lifted up out of the water we are symbolically resurrected with Jesus and are born again as new creations in him. Through faith we accept this death and resurrection as our own so that we may live a new life with him. And when we believe in the power of his death and resurrection, God accepts our faith and imputes righteousness to us, not through anything we have done, but through what Jesus has done.
There is much to be said about this and it will be discussed in great detail when we get to the writings of Paul. If you would like to know more in the mean time, check out the eBooks and teachings on my website, especially the eBook on the Foundation Teachings of Christianity.