Thursday, January 28, 2021

Matthew 21 - Part 6


Read Matthew 21

Most of the time, I challenge you not to make a parable allegorical.  This one is an exception.  It does not teach a lesson or the ways of the kingdom of heaven so much as it prophesies what took place and is taking place in God’s creation.

A landowner—God—planted a vineyard—creation (Eden or the Promised Land in narrow context)—and then rented it out to some farmers—humanity (Chosen People in narrow context). 

Rent was to be paid in fruit not cash.  When it was time to collect, the landowner sent his servants—prophets—to collect.  They killed them.

This whole all about me thing was hard to give up.

The landowner sent more servants—prophets.  They rejected them and killed them as well.

Finally, the landowner sent his son—Jesus—but they killed him as well.

“But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’  So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.”

So, when the landowner—God—comes to the vineyard, what do you think will happen?”

He will bring those wicked renters to a terrible end—judgment and wrath. But that’s not the end of the story.  He will rent the vineyard to those who will pay their rent—repentant sinners.

Jesus challenged the hypocrites again with scripture they should have known.  They may not have understood its context, but they should have known the scripture.

“‘The stone the builders rejected

    has become the cornerstone;

the Lord has done this,

    and it is marvelous in our eyes.’”

Who is the stone that the builders rejected?  It is the Son of God.  Jesus is the cornerstone of our relationship with God in this age.  We still have Commandments, the Law of Moses, the words of the prophets, psalms and proverbs, and the history of God’s relationship with humankind; but going forward, Christ Jesus is where it all begins, and connects, and becomes complete for us.

The one that the religious hypocrites rejected is the foundational stone for our lives that bring glory to God. What will we build?

Listen to the words of Jesus as he continued his admonishment of the religious hypocrites.

“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.  Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  He is the way to the Father.  Jesus is the gate.  We come into the kingdom of heaven through Christ alone.  All other ways lead to destruction.

Do your Bibles have subheadings?  These can be helpful sometimes.  I think that there should have been a subhead inserted between verses 44 and 45.  The subhead should read:  Lightbulb Moment.

The hypocrites had an epiphany.  He is talking about us!

They wanted to arrest him, but the people thought he was a prophet.  This was not a decision of theology or righteousness.  It was pure politics.  The people think this guy is a prophet.  What would they do to us if we arrested him?

Jesus had told his disciples three times without metaphor that he would be handed over to these hypocrites, ridiculed and beaten, and that he would die on a cross even while those who would condemn him were figuring out how to do it.

OBTW—he also noted that he would be raised from the dead.  The cross, the tomb, death would not have the final word.

What do we take from this scripture that we have explored today?

Here’s an easy one:  Don’t be a hypocrite.  When we get to chapter 23, I will likely remind all of us not to be a hypocrite or a Pharisee.

What else?

Christ is the cornerstone.  Of what?

Everything! Without him, whatever we build will be incomplete.  Without him, there is no glory in our good deeds.  Without him we have rejected God the Father.

The religious hypocrites rejected Jesus.  They knew the law and the prophets, the psalms and the proverbs, they knew the Torah, but they did not know the divine heart of God.

They knew what sacrifices and feasts and festivals were prescribed but they did not know mercy.

The tax collectors and prostitutes would come to know the mercy and favor of God before they would abandon their religion and rituals. 

The cornerstone given to us is Christ Jesus and he brings us to right relationship with God the Father and opens the door for God’s own Spirit to dwell within us.

Without him we face wrath and punishment.  Without him we decline to know the love of our God who is love and desires mercy above any ritual. 

Without him, we are hypocrites when we claim to know God. 

There are at least a dozen, probably a hundred new causes and programs that took hold in 2020.  Some may have been around for a while before then but received little notice.

Those that beckon you to follow but do not desire to bring glory to God through relationship with Christ Jesus are more likely to be just another Tower of Babel than something that will produce good fruit.

Christ is the cornerstone.  Of what?

I said everything earlier.  Now narrow your focus.  He is the cornerstone of your life and your right relationship with God.

I pray that he is the cornerstone for the lives of your family.

I pray that he is the cornerstone of everyone who is frustrated with the world trying to do what is right.  We should expect the world—the godless world—to behave as it does.  This should not surprise us.

But navigating our lives is different.  Christ is our foundation and our cornerstone for everything that we build.  Christ came to serve not to be served.  That is our model.

He is the way, the truth, and the life and leads us to the Father.  If you truly want to know God, know his Son who is the cornerstone that the builders rejected.

Do not reject him.  Do not deny him before men.  Receive him as Lord and get ready for the marvelous things that will follow.

Ok, we have been focused on pursuing the things of God in 2021.

We began with love mercy.

We challenged ourselves with a question. Are we rich towards God?

We are challenged to covet less and be generous.  Generosity is the currency in the kingdom of heaven.

And now, make sure that Christ is the cornerstone in your life.  Though the world may still reject him, he is the cornerstone in your life.

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.  The Lord has done this and it is marvelous in our eyes!

Know with certainty that Christ is the cornerstone in your life.

Have no doubt that Christ is the cornerstone in your life.

Jesus is Lord.  Make sure he is Lord in your life!

Let everything that you do proceed from your relationship with Christ.

He is your Lord.  He is your foundation. He is at the center of your life. He is your cornerstone.

Let your whole life be built upon your relationship with Christ Jesus!


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