Rejected Stone

John MacArthur on Luke 20:9-19

The parable has ended.  The end is tragic for the vine-growers.  It’s tragic for those who follow the vine-growers.  It’s tragic, at this point, for the son, he’s dead.  But the death of the son can’t be the end of the story.  So he looks at them and says, “In case you’re wondering if that’s the end of the story, have you forgotten the Scripture?” And He quotes Psalm 118:11.  “The stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief cornerstone.”  He takes them from the analogy and the parable that He developed, right into the Old Testament.  This is not the end of the story, lest you think it’s the end of the story, think again.  Have you forgotten Scripture?  Scripture says that the stone rejected becomes the chief cornerstone.

Well what is the importance of that?  It’s very simple because they would understand it clearly.  They knew the hallel very well.  They knew Psalm 118, probably most of them knew it by memory, certainly the leaders did…the chief cornerstone.  They may have even given messianic overtones to that because in Daniel chapter 2 the Messiah who comes to smash the image in Daniel’s vision is the stone cut out without hands.  The Messiah was known in some circles as the stone.  The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.

I’ll tell you how that works.  If you’re going to build a building, in ancient times you build it out…a great edifice…out of stone, there’s one stone that has to be perfect, that’s the cornerstone.  And it has to be perfect in every direction.  It has to be perfect on the bottom so the building is flat.  It has to be perfect on the sides so the building rises in a perfect perpendicular fashion.  It has to be perfect on the top so it doesn’t tilt and the angle has to be exact or the building is going to wander off out of symmetry.  The cornerstone sets every angle for the building.  Builders knew that then they were going to build a building, they had to have an absolutely perfect cornerstone.  How many stones are you going to build a great edifice would you throw away before you found the perfect one?  Realizing that all these stones were hewn by hand, you would come across a stone and say, “Almost but not quite.”  You’ve got one side of the stone that’s going that way and if we follow that line, it’s not going to work.  The angle is just off a little tiny bit and that’s going to send this building away from symmetry.  How many stones would they throw in a pile and say, “Well maybe we can cut that one up and use it somewhere else?” before they found a perfect cornerstone?

And now in the teaching of Jesus, the illustration has shifted and the son has become a stone.  The son is now the stone which the builders rejected.  They had said, “You’re not perfect.  We don’t accept You as the cornerstone to God’s Kingdom.”