Teaching in the Temple

KEY VERSE: “The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner.” —Luke 20:17


IT IS written of Jesus that he “came unto his own, and his own received him not.” (John 1:11) This was the immediate cause of the persecution which brought about his cruel and early death. His “own” was the nation of Israel, and while many of the common people of the nation rejoiced in his message, and a few days before his crucifixion enthusiastically acclaimed him king, it was not so with the religious rulers. They enviously hated the Master, and finally succeeded in bringing about his arrest and crucifixion.

Jesus was fully aware that the scribes and Pharisees hated him, and on an occasion near the close of his ministry he related a parable to them which fitted the circumstances so accurately that even they sensed the meaning of it, yet their anger was increased and they became more determined than ever to kill him. The parable was of a householder who planted a vineyard, and then left it in the care of husbandmen while he went into “far country.” When the time came for gathering fruit, the householder sent his servants to the vineyard, but the husbandmen whom he left in charge slew some of them and maltreated the others. Finally, the householder sent his own son, thinking the husbandmen would respect him, but they did not. They slew him also.—Matt. 21:33-46

Jehovah was the “householder” in this parable, and the “vineyard” was the Jewish nation. The husbandmen were the religious rulers of the nation, and the “servants” who were first sent to represent the householder were the prophets. The record is that they killed the prophets, and stoned them who were sent by God. And now they were planning to kill the Son whom the Heavenly Father had sent. After relating this parable, the application of which was so obvious, Jesus quoted the prophecy recorded in our text concerning the stone which the builders rejected.

Jesus himself was that stone. The builders—the religious rulers of Israel—rejected him. Isaiah foretold one of the reasons, saying, “He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” (Isa. 53:2) Actually, of course, Jesus was perfect, “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” (Heb. 7:26) He was kind and sympathetic, and went about doing good. He healed the sick and raised the dead. He encouraged the fainthearted, and extended mercy to sinners. He condemned the Pharisee who thanked God that he was not like the publican, and commended the publican because he recognized his sin and humbly asked God for forgiveness.

But these were not the qualities the scribes and Pharisees were looking for in one whom they would accept as Messiah and king. They wanted a Messiah who would not expose their evil practices as Jesus did, one whom they could control as a sort of puppet king; well qualified as a general to raise and command a conquering army, but satisfied to let them rule and exploit the people as they chose. So, from their standpoint, Jesus had no beauty that they should desire him.

To the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus was a misfit, so the builders, not understanding the kind of building the Lord was erecting, rejected Jesus; they could find no place for him in their own plans, and the Lord’s plan they did not know.

When Jesus let it be known to the Pharisees and scribes that the stone they were rejecting was to become the head of the corner, he added, “Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” (Matt. 21:43) The Apostle Peter, in I Peter 2:4-10, refers to the stone and to the new building which began to be erected with Jesus; he also tells us about the nation to which Jesus said the kingdom, taken from Israel, would be given. “Ye” are that “holy nation,” he wrote.

The nation of Israel could have been God’s royal or kingdom nation. The promises were originally made to this nation. But because they rejected the prophets, and finally killed the Son, the kingdom was taken away from them, and, starting with Jesus, God began to bring a new nation into being. Many are the promises, particularly in the New Testament, which refer to those who become a part of this new and spiritual nation. “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.”—I Tim. 2:12

Dawn Bible Students Association
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