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Matthew 21:33-46

Constructed on the Cornerstone

  • Samuel Wilson
  • Weekend Messages
  • July 12, 2020

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Constructed on the Cornerstone

Matthew 21:33-46

Illus. Where do I go from here?

Read: Matthew 21:33-46

I.   Recognize Your Reality

Matthew 21:33-41

  • There was a landowner who owned and planted a vineyard. Around it he put a wall, in it he dug a winepress, as well as a watchtower. These were all key ingredients: the wall would help to not only protect but to level the ground, the winepress for the grapes to be crushed and collected, and a watchtower so that those who came to take what you had could be identified and then kept out.
  • The details of the story give the picture of the meticulous measures the owner went to in developing the vineyard.
  • With the vineyard planted and placed, it is rented out to farmers to farm the land, and the landowner moved to another place.
  • When harvest time came, the landowner sent some of His servants to the farmers so that they might collect on the agreed upon fruit. But the farmers did not want to share, so they beat one, killed another and stoned a third.
  • Since that did not go the right way, the landowner sent other servants to collect his fruit. This time he sent even more servants, and they were treated the same way (beaten, killed, stoned).
  • After things did not go well for the servants, the landowner decided he would send his son saying, “they will respect my son.” But when the tenants saw the son, they decided to kill him in order to take his inheritance. They took him, threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
  • And Jesus asks then a question to those listening, letting them finish the story by asking a question, “when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”
  • They responded to the question properly, (41) “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end… and he will rent his vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”
  • The parable given, is one that has Old Testament ties because more than once, the nation of Israel is compared to a vineyard.

Isaiah 5:1-4, I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: my loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.

  • The vineyard is the nation of Israel. God is the One who planted the nation, made a place for it, the stones being cleared out is reminiscent of the Canaanites begin removed from the promised land.
  • God had made the way for them, protected them, guided them, guarded them, watched over them. But they did not bring forth fruit.
  • So here, Jesus is talking about Israel, and particularly here, the leaders in Israel.
  • God was looking for fruit, and as His prophets, priests, and people were sent throughout the Old Testament, they were rejected.
  • Some beaten like Jeremiah  (Jeremiah 26:7-11; 38:1-28), some killed like John the Baptist, (Matthew 14:1-12), some stoned like Zechariah son of Jehoiada (2 Chronicles 24:20-21).

Luke 13:34-35, O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it! Behold, your house is left to you desolate.

Acts 7:52-53, Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered Him. 

  • It is interesting because as Jesus details the story, the religious leaders see the sins of another, the farmers, the tenants, the vine-growers, and they are quick to answer Jesus’ question,  telling what should happen to those who beat, killed and stoned the prophets.
  • They are quick to say that the tenants were wicked and would be destroyed and the vineyard would be leased to others who would provide the landowner fruit.   

Illus. Timeout.

Proverbs 21:2, A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart.

2 Chronicles 7:14, If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

  • And as Jesus was driving toward the point. He was showing them the reality, that which they were ultimately unwilling to see.

Matthew 13:13, “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.”

Matthew 13:16,But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.”

Matthew 21:42

  1. Choose the Chief Cornerstone
  • So, in verse 42 Jesus changed the metaphor. From a vineyard to a stone.
  • He asks them a question, have you never read? And then quotes Psalm 118:22; which the religious leaders would recognize.
  • He is bringing the Scripture into His parable saying the tenant farmers rejected the son. And as predicted, the nation of Israel has rejected the Chief Cornerstone.
  • The Scripture He brings is to help validate the parable, but to also make it personal.
  • Earlier we spoke about the idea of a cornerstone. It is important to remember that when buildings were built back then, they weren’t built with 2×4’s. Rather, they used stones.
  • Today if you go to Israel, you can see sections of the temple, which was built stone upon stone.
  • The cornerstone was always the most important stone, the stability and symmetry of it all was set by the cornerstone. And if the stone wasn’t just perfect, everything would be off.
  • So, the builders would select just the right stone for the cornerstone, the perfect stone which determined the integrity of the rest of the structure.

Illus. Rejected Stone.

  • Applied here to Jesus, Psalm 118:22 is a reference to the Messiah, who was to come, would be rejected by the builders of the house of Israel.
  • Jesus was and is both the Son, and the Stone. The chief priests and Pharisees had rejected Him, but in rejecting Him, they were rejecting the One they were supposed to build upon.

Philippians 2:9, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,  so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

  • This was the Lord’s doing, it is marvelous. The people may have rejected Him, but God would prove Him the chief cornerstone.
  • Jesus was the rejected stone. And there are many references to God and Jesus as the “stone,” or the “rock,” in the Bible.

Illus. The Rock.

Psalm 40:2, He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.

Psalm 61:2, From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Psalm 94:22, the Lord has been my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge. 

  • Though Jesus would be rejected by Israel, He would become the cornerstone of the Church. The cornerstone in the lives of those who would put their faith and trust in Him.

Acts 4:11, He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone12 And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.

Peter would reference this again…

1 Peter 2:6-8

  • The one rejected by Israel’s leaders was the chief cornerstone, Jesus would have the place of highest honor.
  1. Build Your Life on Him Alone

Matthew 21:43-44

  • The kingdom symbolized by the vineyard, belongs to God. And He would entrust it to those who would produce fruit for the kingdom.
  • The Gentiles were not a replacement for the Jews, rather, the reference is to a new community of God’s people who would turn to God, what would characterize them was their fruit, not their family or nationality. A community where both Jews and Gentiles would find their place in Christ, the Rock, the cornerstone.

1 Peter 2:9-10, But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

  • Jesus is telling those who are asking about His authority, questioning Him at every turn. Rejecting Him and looking for an opportunity to condemn Him. That He is the Son and the rejected stone. They both refer to Christ.
  • That nation is the people of God, the Church, the Jew and the Gentile, and we are to be producing the fruit of the kingdom of God.
  • In fact, the fruit we produce is to have an impact on the people of Israel, those who had rejected God’s Son, so that they may turn and be grafted back into the Vine.
  • Jesus clearly explained what He meant when He said the kingdom of God would be taken away from them and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it.

John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit”

  • As we discussed last week, the leaders in Israel looked good on the outside, but they weren’t producing true fruit.
  • John the Baptist had told them to bear fruit in keeping with repentance (Mt. 3:8). The fruit of the kingdom is the demonstrated righteousness produced out of a life turned from sin.

Galatians 5:22-23, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

  • Hebrews 13:25 calls the sacrifice of praise, fruit of lips that give thanks. Colossians 1:5 describes the Gospel going out as fruit, James 3:18 and Philippians 1:11 speaks of the fruit of righteousness.
  • In Israel, the Lord was looking for fruit, but none was found.
  • Jesus is the Rock, the one upon which they should build. And He gives this statement, “anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”
  • It displays how one rock can affect people differently depending on how they relate to it (Dn. 2:34-45, Isaiah 8:14-15), some can trip and stumble over it, some crushed by it, but the best way is to build on the rock. To be constructed on the cornerstone.

Matthew 7:24-27

  • Jesus made clear throughout His ministry that those who would build their lives on the rock, the cornerstone would stand tall. And for those who do not, they would fall.
  • Understanding this, you have the opportunity to make sure your life is constructed on the cornerstone. Jesus says whoever hears His words and acts on them will be the one who builds on the rock.

Illus. The Golden Rock.

Matthew 21:33-46 

“Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard and put a wall around it and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey. When the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine-growers to receive his produce. The vine-growers took his slaves and beat one, and killed another, and stoned a third. Again he sent another group of slaves larger than the first; and they did the same thing to them. But afterward he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the vine-growers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ They took him, and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-growers?” They said to Him, “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons.” Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, This became the chief corner stone; This came about from the Lord, And it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it. And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.” When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them. When they sought to seize Him, they feared the people, because they considered Him to be a prophet.


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