Cornerstone

Read: Exodus 27-28, Matthew 21:23-46

Matthew 21:42

Anyone who believes that the only side of Jesus there is belongs to a gentle shepherd has missed a few verses. This verse, quoted from Psalm 118:22-23, is powerful on its own, but in the context of Matthew, it’s a rather firm jab at the chief priests and Pharisees. I can imagine Jesus staring down the temple leaders with piercing eyes as he tells them exactly who and what they are. They are the ones who rejected the stone, the Son. And if that wasn’t harsh enough, Jesus goes on.

Therefore, I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.

Matthew 21:43-44 (NIV)

The leaders that Jesus was talking to thought they had it made. Plans were in the works to put Jesus—a man they saw as a disturber of the peace—to death. This man who dared to cause division among the Jews would be dealt with and their position would once again be secure. Yet here he is, in no uncertain terms telling them that they will be usurped. These men had made a religion based on their own beliefs and interpretations, leaving God completely out of the picture.

The parable that precedes Jesus’ statements is about a landowner who rents out his land. When the time for harvest came, he sent servants to collect his share of the fruit. The tenants decided that they did not want to give what was owed to the landowner and beat, killed, and stoned the servants. The landowner sent even more servants who were met with the same fate. Finally he sends his son believing that he would be treated as the landowner himself. Instead, the tenants kill the son with the intent of taking his inheritance.

Jesus then asked what would become of the tenants when the landowner returned.

“He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”

Matthew 21:41 (NIV)

Without knowing it, the Pharisees had condemned themselves. By refusing to give the son the same honour as the father, the tenants robbed themselves of the right to remain in the land. God is the Father. Jesus is the Son. Because the chief priests and Pharisees refused to see Jesus for who he was, they essentially removed themselves from the kingdom of God.

Position is not what gets any of us into the kingdom. It doesn’t matter so much what we build, but rather how we build it. The Jewish leaders of Jesus time failed to recognise Jesus as the cornerstone. If Jesus, as the Son, is not given the honour that is due to him, any foundation we may attempt to build will crumble.

CORNERSTONE: The stone which lies at the corner of two walls, and unites them; the principles stone, and especially the stone which forms the corner of the foundation of an edifice.

Jesus has to be at the centre of anything we do in the name of our faith. Without him, our labour is in vain. He is the rock, the cornerstone, the foundation on which the entire kingdom of God rests.

Stones

Joshua said to all the people, “This stone has heard everything the Lord said to us. It will be a witness to testify against you if you go back on your word to God.”

Joshua 24:27 (NLT)

It was common in those days to use stones as witnesses of great events (not that they’d be able to testify in a court of law). When God did something great and mighty, Israel would oft erect a large stone. This would serve as a reminder to them as well as to future generations of God’s goodness and mercy. These stones proclaimed God’s greatness to all who saw them.

Upon reading the verse in Joshua, I was reminded of another scripture regarding stones:

Jesus replied, “I tell you, if these [people] keep silent, the stones will cry out [in praise]!”

Luke 19:40 (AMP)

And then I got to thinking—dangerous, I know. Perhaps Jesus wasn’t referring to just any old stones along the road. Perhaps he was referring to all of the witness stones that the Jews had raised up over the years. Perhaps if his followers failed to proclaim his glory, those stones really would cry out their reminders of God’s grace and goodness.

As a male Jew who had spent many hours in the temple, Jesus would have well known of all the stones his ancestors had stood up. As the Son of God, he knew exactly why each and every stone sat where it did. He knew that every stone proudly proclaimed the glory and awesome works of the Father.

If we don’t proclaim the Good News, maybe those old stones will really cry out.

Daily Bible reading: Joshua 23-24, Luke 6:27-49

Mark it

Have you ever set your mark on something? Of course you have! Even if it was as a kid making sure your name was ever visible on a school book or perhaps your mother marked your backpack for you. No matter who did it or how it was done, it was yours. Marked.

God wanted Israel to mark the Promised Land. Right away. As soon as they entered it. Not when they conquered it—when they arrived in it. He commanded that massive stones be erected and the law written upon them. I imagine this would have been the ancient version of Neil Armstrong planting the American flag on the moon. We were here! This is ours!

I believe that, in the same way the USA marked the moon and Israel would mark Canaan, God wants to make His mark on our hearts. The image that immediately comes to mind is of a row of four tiny lines with another crossing over. Tiny marks of counting. But that isn’t how God wants to mark our hearts. He doesn’t just want to mark us, he wants to leave His mark like the standing stones of Israel. He wants it to be obvious that we belong to Him and no other.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)

If I trust God with my entire heart, I’m giving Him a lot more room than just space for ticks to mark the day. I’m giving Him room to set up His marker. The Song of Solomon says I am my beloved’s, and he is mine. When you belong to someone and that person belongs to you, you make it obvious—you wear a ring or get a tattoo.

If we have given Him our hearts, the mark of God on our lives should be obvious.

Daily Bible reading: Deuteronomy 26-27, Mark 15:1-26

Father

Whether you are with or without a father today, let us consider The Father. The One who created us in His image for His pleasure. The One who gave us free will and, even though we turned from Him, He still made a Way for us to have fellowship with Him. Though man has continued to turn from Him, He is still faithful and true, and always, always keeps His promises.

Let us celebrate the One who sent His Son, His only Son so that we could be saved from our own sinful nature.

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven by given among men by which we may be saved.

Acts 4:11-12 (ESV)

There is  and will every be only one Saviour. And he was given to us by a Father who loves us so much, that He was willing to be separated from himself in order to make a way for us to come to him.

Daily Bible reading: Nehemiah 9-11; Acts 4:1-22