Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes?’ … He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.” (Matthew 21:42, 44)
What is the purpose of a “cornerstone?” Ours at Holy Cross – decorative – celebrative. However, in Jesus’ day, a “cornerstone” and a “capstone” were the two most important, because they were the first and the last stones installed.
The cornerstone was larger than the other stones because it was the starting point and from this large stone every other stone was perfectly aligned and built up. And the capstone was often the very last stone installed on a building. If all the stones didn’t align from the cornerstone to the capstone as expected, the structure would be ruined. A good builder never let this happen!
God is building His plan for you, based on His Son, Jesus Christ who is the beginning and the end. So we ask: Am I building my life aligned with Christ: Our Cornerstone? If not, Jesus says this cornerstone breaks and crushes those on whom it falls! What does this mean?
Jesus spoke these words on Tuesday of Holy Week. On Sunday (Palm Sunday), He had ridden into Jerusalem amidst the shouts of “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!” And on Monday, He had cleansed the Temple saying: “My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers!” He had totally upset the religious leaders and now, the next day, He’s back; continuing to teach the people.
As we read and heard last weekend, the chief priests and the elders of the people challenged Him. “By what authority are You doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave You this authority?” The chief priests had the false “cornerstone” of their own sense of authority and entitlement. (Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?)
Jesus wanted the religious leaders (all people!) to “build their lives” on the true cornerstone of repentance and faith in Jesus. That’s the messages of the two parables Jesus told: The first parable (we read last weekend) is about the father who told his first son to work in the vineyard. The first son said, “I will not.” But, this son repented of his selfishness and served his Father’s will. The second son said, “I will,” but didn’t. Which one are we like? In the absence of repentance, people today refuse to do God’s will. We ask ourselves, is Jesus my cornerstone – is all of my life aligned and built on Him – or do I “do my own thing?”
Without repenting / recognizing the true owner (authority), we are God’s enemies and we lose everything. This was the important message in Jesus’ next parable. Matthew 22:33: “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard.” The very best! He rented the vineyard to some farmers, who rather than paying the rent, beat, killed and stoned those sent to collect it. These renters considered themselves as owners not renters. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? – “My life!” “My body!” “My Possessions!” “No one tells me what to do!”
Jesus says, “Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’” he said. “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
Jesus concluded this sad and shocking parable with a question, “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” (they answered) He will bring those wretches to a wretched end…” Ironically, the chief priests and the elders just foretold their own judgment not realizing that’s what Jesus warned when He said: “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone… He on whom the stone falls will be crushed.” Matthew 21:42-44 By rejecting Jesus’ authority over their lives / “the cornerstone,” they lost all of the blessings God desired for them.
The death and resurrection of Jesus is “the capstone / cornerstone,” the “beginning and the end” for all of us. Oh, what blessings we have as Jesus constantly calls us to repentance, as He works in us to build our lives through His Word and Sacraments on the true cornerstone!
What a joy and privilege to see you in worship and Bible Study this next weekend – and daily building our lives through God’s Word on Christ, our Cornerstone!
Pastor Dan Myers