Accountable for Our Actions

KEY VERSE: “He beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, 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. But 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 care of husbandmen while he went into a “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. When Jesus let it be known to the scribes and Pharisees 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) Peter refers to this “stone” of the new “building” which began to be erected with Jesus as the “head of the corner”; 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.—I Pet. 2:4-10

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 as ‘head of the corner’, God began to bring a new ‘nation’ into being. Many are the promises, particularly in the New Testament, which refer to those who become part of this new and spiritual nation. “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him,” is one of them.—II Tim. 2:12

The work of God during the present Gospel Age has been the calling and selection of those who are to reign with Christ in that kingdom. And it is to be an actual kingdom, although this fact has long been lost sight of in much of the Christian world. But the apostles and the Early Church understood it. Indeed, they believed that this glorious kingdom of the Messiah was very near. They knew that Jesus would return to set up that kingdom in the earth, making an end of earth’s long night of weeping and death. Paul wrote, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand.”—Rom. 13:12

This is the ‘day’ which will result from the reign of Christ—it is not man’s doing—it will not be a humanly conceived Utopia, but a day of brightness and joy resulting from the rising of the “Sun of righteousness.” (Mal. 4:2) Christ will be exalted to be the head of the corner in the Messianic Kingdom structure. (Isa. 28:16) Yes, this is the “day which the Lord hath made; this is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.”—Ps. 118:22-24

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