"The Stone That Was Rejected" Matthew 21:33-46
“The Stone That Was Rejected”
This Week’s Core Belief: Eternity I believe there is a heaven and a hell and that Jesus Christ is returning to judge the earth and to establish His eternal kingdom.
John 14:1-4 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”
Scripture: Matthew 21:33-46
33 “Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. 34 When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. 35 And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ 39 And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41 They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.” 42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? 43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. 44 And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” 45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. 46 And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet.
The Message of this Passage:
From the Ligonier Ministries: “As we have seen thus far, Jesus has harsh words for the Jewish leaders, based largely upon their failure to see their need of repentance. The parable of the tenants recorded in reveals a further reason for our Lord’s condemnation of the scribes and elders in their unwillingness to bear fruit for the Creator and thus draw the nations unto Him.
Teachers throughout church history have often misused this parable to prove that Gentiles replace ethnic Jews in God’s plan. The transfer of the kingdom from one group to another (v. 43) may imply that Gentiles play a prominent role in the present era. Yet the passage is concerned not with the displacement of Jews in general, but with the inclusion of the new covenant community over against the corrupt leaders of Jesus’ day. Clearly, the parable is based on Isaiah 5:1–7; thus, the vineyard is the old covenant community.
Jesus does not say that the vineyard is uprooted; rather, the vineyard’s tenants, those responsible for its upkeep and care, are judged (v. 43). These wicked tenants are ethnic Israelites, but not every ethnic Israelite. Furthermore, the new tenants are not of Gentile stock alone. Jews, like the twelve disciples are also included.
God displaces the first tenants because of their abject failure. By grace alone, the Almighty redeemed His people from Egypt and gave them all they needed to bear fruit for His kingdom — to be a light unto the world. Under the old covenant many failed at this task, especially the religious leaders; even worse, they persecuted those servants (the prophets) who exhorted Israel to fulfill her call. But God will be patient until they go past the point of no return and murder His Son (vv. 37–39). By this dreadful deed, the evil tenants will earn their own destruction (vv. 40–41).
In fulfillment of Psalm 118:22, the rejected Son is the “cornerstone” — the stone at the corner that joins two walls together. By combining the prophecies of Isaiah 8:14 and Daniel 2:34, 44, Jesus claims to be, as the founder of God’s kingdom on earth, the Lord over all earthly kingdoms. As the “stone,” He will crush all opposition to the kingdom of God. (Matt. 21:42–44).
Every professing Christian should read today’s passage as a warning. All who are truly in Christ, of course, cannot finally fall away from grace, but only those who bear fruit for the kingdom are truly in Christ. Believers may vary in the amount of fruit they produce, but there is no such thing as a fruitless believer.
Consider this day the fruit you are producing: in the form of good works of service, progress in sanctification, discipleship, and other such things.
For Personal Reflection and Discussion:
Read verses 33-34. How did the landowner prepare his vineyard? Why did he prepare so thoroughly? Who are the tenants? (45,46) If the landowner represents God, what does this teach about him?
What does the landowner expect of the tenants? What shows that they are not the owners, but stewards of the vineyard? What does it mean to be stewards?
Read verses 34-40. When harvest time came and the owner sent his servants to get fruit, what happened? (35,36) What does it mean to “collect his fruit”? Who do the servants represent?
Read verses 37-39 again. Why did the owner send his son? What did the tenants think and do when they saw the son? What does this reveal about mankind? About God?
Read verses 40-46. What will the owner do? Look at verse 42. What did Jesus teach about the rejected stone? What do these things tell us about God’s purpose and work in history?
If this had been your vineyard, how would you have responded?
Why did the landowner choose to be slow to vengeance? Why is this important? How is this like God? Why is it important for God to be slow to deal with us?
Why was Jesus a threat to the power and personal agendas of the leaders? How does He "threaten" people today?
Why do people not want to be shown the truth?
What did the religious leaders realize when they heard Jesus’ parable? (21:45)