What Does “The Stone That the Builders Rejected Has Become the Cornerstone” Mean?

The phrase “the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” is found in six different passages in the Bible (Matt 21, Mk 12, Lk 20, Acts 4, 1 Pt 2 and Ps 118). In Matthew 21:42,Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the Scriptures: The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone…?’” Maybe you’ve read it, but do you know the significance?

The Hand of Man

To be rejected means to disapprove, despise, refuse, or repudiate. It is the opposite of acceptance and inclusion. Have you ever been rejected? You did not get the job, loan, or make the team. Maybe you were rejected by your father, mother, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or kids. Have you ever prayed and felt like those prayers were rejected? This verse is found in the gospels is in the parable of the Vineyard. The vineyard is Israel, the owner is God, the servants are the prophets, and the son is Jesus. God kept sending His servants, the prophets, one after another, and finally He sent His Son. The prophets were rejected and ultimately, they rejected their Messiah, God’s Son. Jesus lived a life of rejection. The rejection started from birth. Joseph could not understand Mary being pregnant before they were married and he was going to give her a bill of divorcement. Then, there was no room for Mary and Joseph in the inn. John 1:11 says, “He came unto His own and His own received Him not.” His own brothers and family rejected Him. The crowds rejected Him and left Him. John 6:66 tells us His disciples turned back and no longer followed him. Judas rejected Him and betrayed Him. In Gethsemane He asked the Father if there could be another way. His prayer was not answered. The Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees all rejected Jesus and had him crucified. One of the thieves on the cross rejected Him and He felt like God the Father rejected Him when He said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus was rejected so that we could be accepted.

The Plan of God

Jesus’ rejection, humiliation, and crucifixion is an apparent tragedy, but God will use it all for a greater purpose. Think of how Mary and the disciples felt the day Jesus died. Jesus told them that He must go to Jerusalem to fulfill what was written by the prophets. He would be delivered to the Gentiles, mocked, spit on, flogged, and killed, and on the third day rise again. Luke 18:34 says, “The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them….”There are things hidden we don’t see now, but God has a plan! They thought it was all over. Jesus was all man and as a man He died. If He does not rise on the third day, He is just a man like you and me. But He was more than a man. He was the God-Man. God in human flesh. He is the Son of God who lived a perfect life and died to pay for our sins. In the plan of God, the cross is where justice and mercy meet. Look at Matthew 21:4 in its entirety: “Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the Scriptures: The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is what the Lord has done and it is wonderful in our eyes?’” Right after the verse is written in Psalms 118, the very next verse says, “This is the day the Lord has made; let’s rejoice and be glad in it.” That is why it is called Good Friday. What was bad for Jesus was good for us. 

The Span of Time

Jesus is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8). This was God’s plan from the beginning of time. The song for eternity is, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain.” In 1 Peter 2 where we read about the stone that was rejected, Peter says, “Now to you who believe, this stone is precious…” (v. 7). The cornerstone was the huge stone placed first in a building. All the other stones flow from it. Jesus is the Cornerstone. The church is built on that foundation. He is also the capstone in the middle of the archway. He is Head of the church. He holds it all together. A lot of people walked by Jesus but their life was never changed. Peter says the ones who believe are the ones who find Him precious. If He is precious to you, you will trust Him. What does it mean to trust? It means you put your life and eternity in His Hands. You no longer are trusting in self, good works, or man-made religion. Acts 4:11-12 says, “This Jesus is the stone rejected by you builders, which has become the cornerstone. There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.” The way you respond to Jesus, the Son of God, whether you receive Him or reject Him, determines your eternal destiny. Do you believe that He is the stone that was rejected? Do you really believe that God loves you? Do you believe Jesus died for you? Have you put your trust in Him and His death alone to pay for all your sins? Is He your cornerstone?

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