Pastor John Piper, in a message on Matthew 21, “The Marvelous Rising of a Rejected Stone”
Jesus’ Word in Matthew 21:42
The word of the Lord is found in Matthew 21:42 at the end of the parable of the wicked tenants. The owner of the vineyard had sent servants to get fruit from the tenants. They had beaten some and killed others. Then he sent his son. But him, too, they cast out and killed.
The meaning is that God owns the vineyard of Israel. It is supposed to bear the fruit of worship and obedience. He has sent prophets and wise men to gather this fruit. And finally he sent his Son. But the leaders of Israel rebel. They will give no fruit. And they kill the Son of God.
Then comes our text in verse 42:
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”
Peter’s Interpretation in Acts 4:8–12
It seems obvious to you, I am sure, what this refers to, but lets go straight to the interpretation of the apostle Peter in Acts 4:8–12. Peter and John had been arrested for causing a stir by healing a man and teaching about the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (4:2–3). The next day the Jewish leaders (the very ones who had condemned Jesus some months earlier) asked them by what power they were acting. Peter answers, and his answer is an interpretation of Jesus’ word about the rejected stone. Starting at the end of verse 8:
Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a cripple, by what means this man has been healed, be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by him this man is standing before you well. This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, but which has become the head of the corner. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
Notice Peter’s interpretation, one part at a time.
- Verse 10: the stone is Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
- Verse 8: the builders are the rulers of the people and elders.
- Verse 10: the rejection of the stone was the crucifixion of Jesus.
- Verse 10: the elevation of the stone to the head of the corner was the resurrection of Jesus.
- Verse 12: the implication of this new position at the head is that there is salvation in no other. This is the same point Paul made at the Areopagus: the resurrection declares that Jesus is the Son of God in power; all must repent from other gods and seek salvation in him alone.
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