The Stone that the Builder Rejected

(Matthew 21:42-46)

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 articles in the Resource Library on my website menu, especially the eBook on the Foundation Teachings of Christianity. Alternatively take the free Nine Steps to Christianity eCourse, also under the resources library menu tab.

Jesus Foretells His Death

(Matthew 20:17-19)

Jesus took great pains to warn the disciples of his impending death. In the book of Matthew to this point Jesus foretells his death on at least three occasions. He was preparing the disciples for what would be a great shock to them and a cause for concern.

Jesus had already warned the disciples of his impending fate in Mathew 16:21-23 when Peter was used by Satan to try and sway Jesus decision. The disciples Peter, James and John also were made aware of Jesus impending death when they were with him at the transfiguration. They heard Jesus discussing his death with Moses and Elijah in Matthew 17:1-8. Then a third time Jesus foretells his death to the disciples in Matthew 17:22-23.

When his death came he did not want the disciples to be unaware of what was going on. He did not want them to be scared or concerned at what was happening. We see he also taught them that it was to their advantage that he died and that it was for this purpose that he came. (John 16:7)

Without the death and resurrection of Jesus there is no New Covenant. For a covenant to be brought into effect there was the requirement for a blood sacrifice. Under the Old Covenant the purpose of the sin offerings were twofold. Their first function was to bring into effect the covenant, and second, to be the offering for the sins of the people.

Jesus’ sacrifice followed this same principle. He died once for all, firstly to bring the New Covenant into force and secondly to be the perfect sacrifice that would enable the removal of sin for mankind.

The disciples were distressed at what Jesus was telling them for they did not understand this yet. They had the Holy Spirit with them, but not in them at this stage. They were still immature in the Lord and needed his guidance and reassurance. However once he had died and been resurrected, and once he had given them the Holy Spirit at Pentecost they understood fully why he had to die and how the New Covenant worked in their lives. They became bold to preach the word of God.

Jesus did not want his death to be a surprise to the disciples. He knew it was for their best that he leaves and he knew also that they would be sorrowful. That is why he spoke to them often about his death and also the suffering that he would go through at the hands of the elders in Jerusalem.

And we should give thanks that he did also. For through his sacrifice we now have the opportunity to be saved from sin and remade into the image of Christ. We are being prepared to receive the gift of glory and eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thanks be to his glorious name and the love of both Jesus and the Father towards those who will choose to follow him.

Jesus Announces His Death

(Matthew 17:22-23)

Jesus and the disciples left the place they were in and were gathering in Galilee. They were preparing to go up into Jerusalem. At this time in keeping with his practice of telling the disciples what was to come, Jesus announces his death and how it would take place. He tells the disciples that when they go to Jerusalem he is to be delivered into the hands of men and they would kill him.

Needless to say the disciples were greatly distressed about this. Earlier we saw that when Jesus spoke of his departure Peter being influenced by Satan began to say, “No, not you Lord.” (Matthew 16:21-23) But at that time Jesus knew the source of this saying and told Satan to get behind him.

In this second discussion the disciples were greatly distressed. Again they may have been concerned about Jesus, or they may have been concerned for themselves. They may have been wondering what would happen after Jesus was gone. What would happen to them and the ministry they had been given? Who would lead them forward? Thoughts like this may have been going through their heads, as they did not understand what was happening. The understanding of this was hidden from them as we see in other versions of this event. (Mark 9:30-32, Luke 9:43-45) If they thought these things, then as Peter behaved previously, they were not thinking or walking in the Spirit over these matters. They were walking and thinking in terms of the flesh.

One of the key messages we get from this section, and particularly in the other versions of this event, is that we should ask when we don’t understand. Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given you, seek, and you will find, knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) During this event the disciples were afraid to ask and so they did not receive an answer. It says in the Mark & Luke versions that the meaning was concealed from them and they were too afraid to ask. Had they asked, perhaps they would have received the insight to quell their fears.

How much better is it to know what is going on? When we don’t know what is happening, the result can be fear, anxiety and frustration. But these things are removed when we know and understand what is going on. We have been instructed by the Lord to ask for insight when we don’t understand what is happening so we don’t have to suffer fear and anxiety. Consider these scriptures:

1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you.”

James 1:5-6, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”

James 4:2 “You do not have, because you do not ask.”

So it is evident that the Lord wants us to know what is happening. He wants to help us in our time of need. He does not want us to suffer needlessly and to be overtaken by emotion. All we need to do is ask.