#0035 Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone; but who are the other foundation stones lined up next to Him upon whom the Kingdom will build?
42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?
43 “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.
44 Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”
45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them.
46 They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.
Matt: 21 42-46 (NIV)
- The cornerstone is the reference point for building the Kingdom of God. Jesus is that cornerstone.
- What qualities is He looking for in a foundation stone?
- Are these qualities found in the religious imperative of salvation or does there exist a dilemma—a disqualifier made up of conflicting interests emanating from the denominational religions world?
- Are there non-religious persons or groups that fit the profile of a foundation stone?
- Are there persons/groups out of history that fit the profile?
- What might religious persons do differently in order to get a piece of this action?
In the scripture in Matthew Jesus is referring to Himself as the chief cornerstone. In this scripture He is saying that in His role as this cornerstone, He was rejected by the builders. Let’s start by talking about this for a minute. In this analogy we are challenged with two symbols to figure out 1) who the builders represent and 2) what is signified by their rejection of Him. The builders represent the ones who promote, teach and enforce the Mosaic Law—the Sadducees and the Pharisees. Using this image we can see that the Mosaic Law has been built up into a structure—a mighty fortress that has been standing for centuries. Everything about it exudes prominence and formidability. Jesus who was born into the culture of the Mosaic Law had been revealing Himself as a misfit in that culture, in that structure. He didn’t fit into it so subsequently, the religious institution (The Pharisaic establishment) had no use for Him and were in the throes of rejecting Him. In referencing this Old Testament scripture, Jesus was calling to the attention of the multitude He was addressing that these Pharisees (the official representatives of the Mosaic Law) didn’t support what He was doing or the things He was saying—His philosophies and theologies. In proclaiming this, Jesus was formally distancing Himself—not from the Pharisees—from the Mosaic Law. In these few chapters of Mathew, Jesus is seen challenging the Pharisees and the Sadducees on many points and the temptation for us in hindsight is to fault these specific individuals or this gang of particular men for hounding Jesus in the performance of His ministerial mission. The reality was, though they were just doing their job—upholding and defending their religious beliefs: the Mosaic Law.
These men and their Pharisee/Sadducee organization which represented the citadel of the Mosaic Law were in essence an arch type of the conservatism, win-lose perspectives and L-Directed thinking of Jesus’s day. Jesus was pointing out that not only was He not concerned that they rejected Him; He was telling them they had no place with Him or His Father. And this was in no way a vengeful response; it was offered more in a job-evaluation sort of way. 43 “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. And at the risk of sounding repetitive; from the perspective of the Mosaic Law, their job performance was exemplary! These days we have the exact same dynamic alive and well in conservative Christian organizations—they fit the profile of the Pharisaic archetype Jesus was contending with back then. Are His words in verse 43 meant for them as well? If these conservative Christians are destined to lose the Kingdom of God, due to their inability to see it, into whose hands is Jesus going to pass it? To whom is He going to give it? Who are the people who will produce its fruit? Before we talk about who these people might be, lets look at what the modern-day Pharisees are up to this Halloween season.
As we can plainly see the Pharisees of today are still plying cohesion and threats to control and manipulate people. If we can make the connection with this section of Matthew we can see that their approach isn’t bring forth the Kingdom fruit Jesus is looking for. Who Is? Is it some other less emphatic, more moderate believing Christians? Is it a group? Is it a smattering of individuals? Maybe we can get a clue if we focus on the fruit instead. What fruit is Kingdom fruit? The Evangelicals and other conservative Christians believe that salvation is the fruit of the Kingdom; it’s what God’s looking for. The Pharisees of Jesus’s time believed keeping the Mosaic Law was what God was looking for. What is God looking for? What is involved in building this Kingdom of His? Conservatism encourages a more passive and spectator-like approach to its community of members. Conservatism pushes its members to attend a Bible-based indoctrination session weekly and to give their money using the term tithe; but what it really is is a tax, an admission into heaven or a bribe used to get better blessings from God. This is the conservative church-goer’s agenda—it’s not Kingdom building. What is Kingdom building then? We’ll pick up with this question on Wednesday Nov. 4th. Till then consider this scripture on the topic from–you guessed it–Isaiah.
16 So this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic…”