Rejecting the Cornerstone

1 Peter 27 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 21:33–46 (ESV)

33 “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. 34 When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. 35 And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ 39 And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41 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.”
42 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’?

43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. 44 And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”
45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. 46 And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet.

Parallel Texts: Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-19

Understanding and Applying the Word

The key to understanding this parable is knowing who Jesus is addressing through it. The passage gives us this information. In verse 45, we are told that the chief priests and the Pharisees perceived that Jesus was speaking about them. This is no surprise as he has been in a constant face-off with them since he entered Jerusalem for Passover week.

The parable tells us that the religious leaders and the religious system that they represented had failed the people. The leaders, who had been assigned by God to take care of his vineyard (i.e. the people of Israel), had failed to respond to the Lord’s servants that he had sent (referring to the prophets of the Old Testament). Lastly, the Lord had sent his own Son, Jesus, but the religious leaders would not listen to him either. Instead, they were planning to put Jesus to death, which they will do in just a few more days. What the religious leaders did not realize is that they were rejecting the very cornerstone of God’s salvation plans.

As a result, the religious leaders were rejected by God, as well as the system that they represented. God was moving to replace these things with something different. This new thing would prove to be the Church, made up of Jew and Gentile and no longer tied to the temple, the sacrificial system, or the priesthood. Instead, Jesus would be the great high priest who offered the once-for-all sacrifice of himself for all who believe. Big changes were coming because of Christ!

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Questioning Jesus

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Reading the Word

Matthew 21:23–27 (ESV)

23 And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24 Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.

Parallel Texts: Mark 11:27-33; Luke 20:1-8

Understanding and Applying the Word

The last time Jesus was in the temple he had driven out the money changers and those selling pigeons. So when Jesus returned, the chief priests and elders were quick to confront him. Who did Jesus think he was? Who gave him the authority to do the things he was doing? After all, the temple was under the authority of the priests.

When Jesus heard their questions, he responded with a question of his own. He asked the priests and elders, “The baptism of John, from where did it come? From Heaven or man?” The priests and elders refused to answer this question because no matter how they would have answered it, they would have been in a difficult situation. On the one hand, they would admit that John acted on behalf of heaven (i.e. God), which means they should have listened to him. On the other hand, they would deny that John was a prophet and anger the people who believed John. Since the leaders would not answer Jesus, he refused to answer them.

If the priests and elders had been willing to acknowledge the source of John’s authority, they would have also known the source of Jesus’. John’s entire ministry emphasized that Jesus would come and he would be greater than John. The leaders were unwilling to see this even after all they had witnessed through John and also through Jesus. They had heard the teaching, witnessed or heard about the miracles, but they refused to believe. Their hearts were hardened to the truth.

Today, many have hardened their hearts towards Jesus in much the same way. Many refuse to see Jesus for who he is because they do not want to, regardless of the truth that is available. What should we do? We must continue to share the gospel and pray that the Lord would soften their hearts and open their eyes.

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Get Rid of the Evidence

The Chief Priests Take Counsel Together

The Chief Priests Take Counsel Together (Public Domain)

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading for the day. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along every day as we read through the life of Christ in 2019.

Reading the Word

John 12:9–11 (ESV)

9 When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

Trouble Ahead

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Reading the Word

John 11:54–57 (ESV)

54 Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples.

55 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. 56 They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?” 57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus knew of the plot to kill him, so he he withdrew to Ephraim along with his disciples. Shortly after raising Lazarus, it was time for Passover. This Passover would be the one that all other Passovers had pointed to. The Lamb of God would be sacrificed to deliver the people of God from their sins. During this time, many Jews would travel to Jerusalem for the holiday and the population would go from around 70,000 to nearly 250,000.

As the people spent the week leading up to Passover in Jerusalem, many were wondering what Jesus would do. Would he dare show up? Would he stay away to avoid trouble? The religious leaders had put out word that if anyone saw Jesus, they should let the leaders know. They wanted to seize him when the opportunity presented itself.

This Passover would be the most important one in history. It would be the one that all of the others had looked forward to in anticipation of fulfillment. The true Lamb of God was about to be sacrificed for the sins of the people, which would bring eternal deliverance and life in a new world. Jesus would soon enter Jerusalem for the final time on his way to the cross where he would lay down his life for all who will believe. Have you ever stopped to consider why he would do this? It was all because of his love for you and me. That is an amazing thing!

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The Desire to Kill Jesus

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Reading the Word

John 11:45–53 (ESV)

45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.

Understanding and Applying the Word

When the people saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the grave, many believed in him. When the religious leaders heard about Lazarus, they did not attempt to deny the legitimacy of the miracle. There was really no way for them to do that. Instead, they determined to put Jesus to death because they feared that “everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” The religious leaders feared that they would lose their power and influence over the Jewish people and their standing in the eyes of the Roman government. They wanted to keep things the way they were because it benefited them to do so. Jesus had to go.

Caiaphas, the high priest, commented that it would be better for one man (i.e. Jesus) to die for the people than for the whole nation to perish. Little did Caiaphas know that his words were prophetic and that Jesus would die for the people. The religious leaders conspired and sent Jesus to the cross where he died as a sacrifice for all of mankind. Through his death, Jesus saved all who will believe in him. He died so that many would live.

Since his arrival on this earth, Jesus has been a polarizing figure. People tend to either see Jesus as the Savior of the world or the biggest problem with the world. Some think the best thing for this world would be a turn to Christ in faith and obedience, while others think the best thing for our world would be to rid ourselves of Jesus, his teachings, and his followers. Some worship. Others scoff. The reason that Jesus will not go away is because of the testimony we have about the things he did while on this earth. Jesus healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, turned water into wine, calmed the storms, walked on water, raised a man who was in the grave for four days, and then rose from his own grave after being crucified on a cross. Such a man cannot simply be dismissed. We owe it to ourselves to look into these things. If these things are true, how can we do anything other than believe?

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