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The Stone, Tested and Precious

Jesus was in the temple teaching. The Chief Priests and elders interrupted him to question His authority. Jesus responds with a question and two parables. Then Jesus says –

“Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures?

‘The stone that the builders rejected
    has now become the cornerstone.
This is the Lord’s doing,
    and it is wonderful to see.’

Matthew 21:42 NLT

Our unbelief does not thwart the redemptive plan of God. His ultimate purposes will prevail. The religious leaders of the day rejected the One who came to save, but despite their unbelief, Jesus is the cornerstone, the foundation. He cannot be shaken.

Who is this stone?

Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem,
    a firm and tested stone.
It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on.
    Whoever believes need never be shaken.”

Isaiah 28:16 NLT

Jesus is the tested stone. He’s proven to be strong, durable, and steadfast. God is building a spiritual house built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. In Christ, this household is being joined together – each one of us a member of the household. Jesus is the cornerstone – bearing the weight of this spiritual house.

Picture of cornerstone with inscription Jesus Christ, The Chief Cornerstone

He’s also the precious stone. He is precious – he never disappoints. He is safe – we can build our lives on His foundation. We can trust Him!

Our lives are hidden in Christ; in Him, we never need be shaken, anxious, or lacking peace. We can count on Him.

But to those who do not believe, Jesus is the rejected stone. Their disbelief leads to their undoing.

The rejected stone

The stone that the builders rejected has become the very stone that holds together the entire foundation.

Psalm 118:22 VOICE

He will keep you safe. But to Israel and Judah he will be a stone that makes people stumble, a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare.

Isaiah 8:14 NLT

The message then

This was the message Jesus left with the Chief Priests, the elders, and all the religious leaders. He told them a parable about the wicked tenants who were in charge of the owner’s vineyard. In this parable, we see a snapshot of the story of Israel as told through the law and prophets. We hear echoes of Isaiah 5 in the parable.

My beloved had a vineyard
    on a rich and fertile hill.
He plowed the land, cleared its stones,
    and planted it with the best vines.
In the middle he built a watchtower
    and carved a winepress in the nearby rocks.
Then he waited for a harvest of sweet grapes,
    but the grapes that grew were bitter.

Isaiah 5:1-2 NLT

I love the word pictures that teach us about our God, whether the Shepherd caring for His sheep or the Gardener tending His vineyard. These word pictures remind me that God’s redemptive work is organic and slow. Sheep do not mature overnight, nor do vines produce good fruit quickly. It also reminds me of the immanence of God; He is near, a hands-on God intentionally and devotedly involved with His people.

But the religious leaders were angry that Jesus pointed out their wickedness and they wanted to take Him and kill Him. Their foolish pride mirrored exactly the story that Jesus told.

The “so what” question

But what is the message for us today? As Christians, we are both the vineyard and those tending the vineyard – given the ministry of stewardship from creation. The gospel accounts in this Holy Week say to welcome the nations, provide an environment of prayer for the nations, be devoted to the Son, and create a loving fellowship in His name.

Come to him, to that living stone. Humans rejected him, but God chose him and values him very highly! Like living stones yourselves, you are being built up into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices that will be well pleasing to God through Jesus the Messiah. … Your purpose is to announce the virtuous deeds of the one who called you out of darkness into his amazing light.

1 Peter 2:4, 5, 9 NTE

Peter puts it succinctly – our purpose is to proclaim His virtues, His excellencies, His praises … because He rescued us from the dominion of darkness and settled us in His amazing light-filled, life-giving Kingdom!


Praise be to you, O Lord,
who spins shining stars across the wondrous heavens
and stretches out the seas,
who lifts the dawn into place
and sets boundaries for night.
who awes the earth with storms
and gentles it with green,
who gives everything a season
and breathes life and love into the dust of me.
Praise be to you.

Praise in all things,
for all things:
the soft slant of sunlight,
the sweat of battle,
a song in the wilderness,
the evening breeze,
the deep breath,
the tended wound,
mercy, quietness, a friend;
for the miracles of the daily,
the mysteries of the eternal.
Praise be to you.

Praise from all creatures,
laughers and list-makers,
wonders and worriers,
poets and plodders and prophets,
the wrinkled, the newborn,
the whale, and the worm,
from all, and from me.

Praise, praise be to you
for amazing grace.

Ted Loder, Guerrillas of Grace
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