The stone that the builders rejected Luke 20:17

Luke 20 9 He went on to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. 10 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. 12 He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out.
13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’
14 “But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
“What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”
When the people heard this, they said, “May this never be!”
17 Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written:
“ ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone’?
18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”

The parable of the Tenants in the Vineyard is an allegory of the ministry of Jesus. The Vineyard is an Old Testament picture of God’s chosen people the nature of Israel. The story of how the tenants refuse to pay the rent even when the owner sends his own son is a picture of how the leaders of the Jews rejected God’s Son Jesus, threw him out of the vineyard and even killed him. And Jesus ends the story with a quotation from Psalm 118 showing how the Old Testament had foretold that rejection.
‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone’
This saying became very important as the Early Church tried to understand the significance of the last week of Jesus’s life.
‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone’
In ancient architecture the capstone was different in shape from all the other stones in the building. But it was perfectly shaped to fit in place and complete the building. These pictures explain the capstone (POWERPOINT).
Roman arches were built from two columns of stones and where they meet in the centre a triangular stone sits like a wedge in the middle to balance the two sides of the arch and hold them up. That is the capstone. If you remove the capstone, the whole arch falls apart. So the capstone is the most important stone. It would often carry an inscription with a date or the name of an important person. But it was not just a decorative stone. The capstone really was the essential element in the design which holds the whole structure in place.
‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone’
Centuries before the prophet Isaiah had foretold that God’s chosen people would reject their Messiah.
Isaiah 53:1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be rejected. But God would use that rejection in amazing way as part of his masterplan of salvation. At the moment that Jesus the Lamb of God took the sin of the world on his shoulders He experienced complete rejection, not only by the human race but even by God. That experience of rejection bought our forgiveness and brought us back to God.
In going up to Jerusalem at Passover time, Jesus knew what was waiting for Him. He knew He would be rejected and Jesus warned his disciples this was going to happen,
Luke 9 18 Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?”
19 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.”
20 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”
21 Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. 22 And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
Jesus knew He would not be spared any of the suffering and rejection human beings experience even though He was the Son of God. Jesus went up to Jerusalem in the full knowledge that He would be rejected and killed. But still He went! The stone which the builders rejected!
The idea of a precious stone is also found in a number of other places in the Old Testament.
Isaiah 28 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 trusts will never be dismayed.
This tested stone would be the precious cornerstone and foundation stone for the New Temple which God promises to build. So the First Christians understood that in the new Temple Jesus would be the most important stone – the capstone. It would be a necessary part of that process that Jesus had to be rejected by everyone. But then God’s masterplan was to build on Jesus the cornerstone the New and Living Temple.
Ephesians 2 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Phillips Brooks wrote, “Slowly, through all the universe the temple of God is being built. And whenever, in any place, a soul by freewilled obedience, catches the fire of God’s likeness, it is set into the growing walls, a living stone.”
The Apostle Peter also describes the church as a building made out of spiritual stones.
1 Peter 2:4 4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
“The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,”
8 and, “A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.”
Jesus, the living stone rejected by men but chosen by God and precious. Jesus was rejected and He warned his disciples that their gospel message would be rejected as well. So when the Apostles experienced rejection and persecution they looked back on what Jesus had said. In Acts Peter and John were taken before the ruling council of Jerusalem the Sanhedrin.
Acts 4 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 He is
“ ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’
12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

Jesus – the stone who the builders rejected which became the capstone.
There is a story from back when the Old Wild West was being settled and pioneers flocked across the country to California and Oregon. On the Eastern slopes of the Rockies there was a large, dirt covered rock sticking up in the middle of the trail. Wagon wheels were broken on it and people tripped over it. Finally somebody dug up the peculiar stone and rolled it off the trail into a nearby stream. The creek was too wide to jump over, so for years people used the stone as a stepping stone to cross the stream. Finally one settler built his cabin near the stream and ge moved the odd stone out of the stream and placed it by his cabin as a doorstep.

Years passed, railroads were built and towns sprang up. The old settler’s grandson went East to study geology. One day he visited his grandfather’s cabin and happened to examine the old lump of stone. The grandson realised the rock was unusually heavy and discovered that inside within that lump of dirt and rock was the largest nugget of pure gold ever discovered on the Eastern slope of the Rockies. It had been there for three generations, and people never recognized its value. To some it was a stumbling stone to be removed. To others it was a stepping-stone, and to others it was just a heavy rock. Only the grandson saw it for what it really was–a lump of pure gold.
“The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,”
So we come to the events we remember on Palm Sunday.
Luke 19:28 After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, 30 “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it.’ ”
32 Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”
34 They replied, “The Lord needs it.”
35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.
37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
In Jesus Christ Superstar Tim Rice’s lyrics put it this way.
“Why waste your breath moaning at the crowd?
Nothing can be done to stop the shouting
If every tongue was still the noise would still continue
The rocks and stones themselves would start to sing”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” the crowds shouted. This is a quote from Psalm 118 verse 26. Psalm 118 is a Song of praise – a Hallelujah, one of a number of the Psalms which were a thanksgiving liturgy which was sung to welcome the procession of the king and the people into the Temple in Jerusalem. Each year the local people would sing Psalm 118 to welcome the Pilgrims who were arriving in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. Psalm 118 begins like this.
Psalm 118 1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. ~
2 Let Israel say: “His love endures forever.”
As the pilgrims approached Jerusalem they would sing these words, Psalm 118 from verse 19
19 Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the LORD. 20 This is the gate of the LORD through which the righteous may enter.
21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.
And next in Psalm 118 we find the sentence which Jesus quotes at the end of the Parable of the Tenants in the Vineyard
22 The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone;
23 the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.
Perhaps the crowds sang those very words as Jesus arrived in Jerusalem without realizing how they were going to be fulfilled only a week later.
And finally Psalm 118 contains the very words the crowd sang as Jesus entered Jerusalem.
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.
The Psalm which had been used for generations to welcome pilgrims to Passover had foretold the significance of Jesus’s Triumphal Entry and of his crucifixion.
22 The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone;
23 the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.

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