“‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”
In Mark 12:10-11, we read Jesus quoting Psalms 118 in pronouncing judgment against the religious leaders who not only questioned Jesus’ authority, but rejected His ministry, message, His Messiahship.
Knowing that they would reject him Jesus told them a parable of the (about a group of) “Wicked Tenants” who rose up against the owner of the vineyard they were responsible to work and protect. In rebellion they severely mistreated the owner’s servants beating some and killing others. Eventually, the owner sent his son thinking this would bring reconciliation, but the tenants killed the son hoping to gain the vineyard for themselves.
In response, the owner exercising his rights would “come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others.” You could imagine that while listening to this parable the religious leaders were indignant at the actions of the tenants towards the owner. The religious leaders would have joined with the crowd crying for justice to be done to the owner. They would have been appalled at the actions of the wicked tenants. All of this stopped when they suddenly realized that Jesus was accusing them of being the wicked tenants!
In verse 12, Mark records that the religious leaders “were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away.”
Theologian and pastor R.T. France writes that this parable is a “pictorial account of God’s dealings with Israel through the prophets culminating in the sending of his son” who is also rejected and killed. This parable is one of judgement against the leaders of Israel. Jesus taught this parable to confront the chief priests and elders in order to reveal their hypocritical character.
Yet, what strikes me about this passage is the phrase “this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” The “doing” is the rejection of Jesus. How can the rejection of Jesus be marvelous?
This rejection of Jesus might come from the hearts of the religious, political, and military leaders, but ultimately it was God’s plan. In one great sermon found in Acts 4:27-28, the Apostle Peter preaches, “for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.”
The rejection of Jesus is marvelous because it opened the door for Gentiles to become sons and daughters of God.
Paul writes in Romans 11:11, “So I ask, did they stumble [Israel] in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous.
The stone that was discarded becomes the cornerstone of the Church, the Body of Christ. Jesus the rejected Messiah becomes the Last High Priest, the Great Prophet, and the Final King. This Jesus who the religious leaders hate and seek to put to death has been highly exalted by God and given a name “that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2”9-11)
In the same way that God called out Israel, He has called out a new people and established the Church. In Matthew 21:23, Jesus tells the religious leaders that, “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.” Let us be about our Father’s business, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
Let us marvel at the One who was rejected so that we might be accepted.