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Matthew 21:40-46

The Head of the Corner

40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? 41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. 42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? 43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. 45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. 46 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.


Have you ever asked a smoker what he thinks will eventually happen to him, if he continues to smoke? There usually isn't much hesitation in his voice when he tells you he will probably get cancer. The problem is that, although he knows the truth, he has not accepted it as a reality that he will have to deal with. This is primarily due to the fact that he is so addicted to the nicotine that he doesn't want to think about giving it up.

Sin is very much the same as an addiction. Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin." (John8:34) Sin holds us captive just like nicotine, heroin, or alcohol, and we live in constant denial of the truth, because we do not want to give up sin.

So after Jesus told the chief priests and elders the story of the rented vineyard and how the farmers killed the owner's son, he asked them what they thought the consequences would be. They knew the exact answer that He wanted them to give, but they didn't yet know that the story was about themselves.

Notice, however, the two parts of the consequences with which they agreed. First, that the husbandmen should be totally destroyed, and secondly, that the vineyard would be given to other husbandmen who would pay the landlord his share of the fruit. The significance of this is obvious to twenty-first century Christians, but not to the priests and elders.

Jerusalem, the center and heart of Judaism, along with its people, would be destroyed in 70 AD. 1,100,000 Jewish people perished in that war, the temple was destroyed, sacrifices ceased, and there was no longer any need for a priesthood. The kingdom of God belonged mostly to converted Gentile Christians from that time forward. The Christian community was a fruit bearing community and has spread throughout the world.

Jesus followed their answer with another question. "Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?" This is a quote from Psalm 118:22-23, which the Jews had always applied to the Messiah.

The cornerstone was important in the cults of that day. The Canaanites buried a human sacrifice under the cornerstone of a building's foundation. The cap-stone or top stone of a building was also referred to as the cornerstone, especially in a pyramid. Psalm 118 appears to refer to the top-stone. The rejected Messiah became the ruler over all.

The stone would be a stumbling stone for those who refused to repent, and it would break them. Those who actively opposed the stone would be caught under it and would be crushed.

The use of these verses and the analogy of the stone made it clear to the priests that Jesus was speaking about Himself and that they were the ones who would be crushed. They knew the truth and their consciences forced them to recognize it, but they did not accept it.

These men were so addicted to their sinful way of life that they were willing to commit murder rather than accept the truth. The only thing that restrained them was the fear that murder would also cost them their lives.

Before the Throne:

Pray that God will reveal to you the areas of your life and ministry where Jesus is not the cap-stone, is not in the top position. Ask Him to change you and to keep you from stumbling over the stone called Jesus. Ask Him to break sin's power over you, to set you free from the addictive lifestyle it fosters, and to help you to accept every truth that He presents to you. Turn your ministry over to Him. Set pride aside and ask Him to run your life. After all, it all belongs to Him.

For Further Study:

(v.40)
** what. Mr 12:9; Lu 20:15,16; Heb 10:29;

(v.41)** He will. Le 26:14-46; De 28:59-68; Ps 2:4, 5, 9; Isa 5:5-7; Da 9:26; Zec 11:8-10; 12:12; 13:8; 14:2, 3; Mal 4:1-6; Mt 3:12; 22:6, 7; 23:35-38;24:21, 22; Lu 17:32-37; 19:41-44; 21:22-24; 1Th 2:16; Heb 2:3; 12:25; ** and will let out. Isa 49:5-7; 65:15; 66:19-21; Mt 8:11; Lu 13:28,29; 14:23, 24; 21:24; Ac 13:46-48; 15:7; 18:6; 28:8; Ro 9:1-11:36; 15:9-18;

(v.42) ** The stone. Ps 118:22, 23; Isa 28:16; Zec 3:8, 9; Mr 12:10, 11; Lu 20:17, 18; Ac 4:11; Ro 9:33; Eph 2:20; 1Pe 2:4-8; ** and it is. Hab 1:5; Ac 13:40, 41; Eph 3:3-9;

(v.43)** The kingdom. Isa 28:2; Mt 8:11, 12; 12:28; Lu 17:20-21; Joh 3:3, 5; ** a nation. Ex 19:6; Isa 26:2; 1Co 13:2; 1Pe 2:9;

(v. 44) ** whosoever. Ps 2:12; Isa 8:14, 15; 60:12; Zec 12:3; Lu 20:18; Ro 9:33; 2Co 4:3-4; 1Pe 2:8; ** but. Ps 2:9; 21:8, 9; 110:5, 6; Da 2:34, 35, 44, 45; Mt 26:24; 27:25; Joh 19:11; 1Th 2:16; Heb 2:2, 3;

(v.46)** they sought. 2Sa 12:7-13; Pr 9:7-9; 15:12; Isa 29:1; Joh 7:7; **because. Lu 7:16, 39; Joh 7:40, 41; Ac 2:22;

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