42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’? Matthew 21:42
I believe this is the most repeated quote in the Bible. It appears in both the old and new Testaments. [Matthew 21:42, Psalm 118:22-27, Luke 20:17, Acts 4:10-12, and 1 Peter 2:4-8 and many more reference this quote].
For clarification, when constructing a stone building, cornerstones and capstones are quite different. Cornerstones typically are square on all sides and placed in a bottom corner where walls intersect; capstones generally are a different shaped stone in the top center of an arch with a purpose to stabilize the arch and wall. In the Bible, there are many references where stones serve as a type of Jesus including capstone, cornerstone, living stone and more. All refer to Jesus.
To further complicate this, different translations use different terms for the same verse, for example, in the KJV, Psalm 118:22 says, “The stone which the builders refused is become the headstone of the corner.” The same verse in the NKJV refers to it as “cornerstone.” Both a cornerstone and headstone (capstone) bring support and stability to a wall but in different locations. Therefore, for simplicity sake, in this message, I will use them synonymously because the intent of the following story is to reflect Jesus and His rejection by the Jewish people.
There is an ancient Hebrew story, perhaps a fable, perhaps true; however, it has been told for centuries and is believed to have appeared first at the time the stones were being cut for King Solomon’s Temple (the first temple which would have been around 1,000 years before Christ). The time period and location make it seem as though the story is at least based on fact.
The story explains that the grounds where the Temple was being erected were Holy so the stones had to be cut remotely. In order to accomplish this, architects established specifications for each stone. Their drawings were taken to the quarry where the stones were cut and then transported to the Temple site. Upon delivery, one peculiarly shaped stone did not make sense to the builder in charge, so assuming it was improperly cut, he ordered it thrown back into the quarry.
The work continued on the Temple; however, when it was near completion, the walls were very unstable and being supported only by the scaffolding. The workers looked everywhere for the capstone that was needed to stabilize the structure but could not find it. Nobody including the builder could explain the missing stone. Eventually someone remembered the stone the builder rejected, and that the workers tossed back into the quarry. So, once again the workers transferred the stone from the quarry. When it was put in place, the entire Temple became stable and thus, “The stone the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.” Without it, the walls could not stand.
Too often we look at people, circumstances or things with our worldly eyes, eyes that may not see things perfectly, rather than through God’s eyes which are eyes that always see perfection or the lack of it. We should all learn to see things God’s way rather than according to what we think is correct. While we see the good and bad on the surface He sees the heart.
Consider this, the great artist Michelangelo was seen staring at an odd shaped block of marble. A friend asked him what he was looking at and he responded, “an angel.” Michelangelo looked past what was and saw what could be and from the block produced one of his incredible masterpieces. We need to see through God’s eyes to see what can be rather than what is. Yes, it requires work and faith, however, when we see as God does we can be far more valuable to Him..
Think about what 1 Samuel 16:7(b) says, “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” To see through God’s eyes is actually a bit scary because it means seeing the bad parts of the spiritual world from which we are somewhat protected. On the other hand, how much more effective we would be in our help’s ministries, prophesy and so forth if we saw life through God’s eyes. It would certainly be a very humbling event; seeing the hearts of others, WOW!!! Perhaps Michelangelo was looking at the heart of the stone when he saw what could be. We know from the verse above that is exactly what God does.
In this message, I will address this and some other aspects of the cornerstone in an effort to guide you away from one of the greatest failures in Christianity and that is looking at others as well as circumstances as they are (judgement) without considering what they can be.
Christ, the Cornerstone
When constructing stone buildings, both capstones and cornerstones stabilize the walls or in some cases, the entire structure. In Ephesians 2:19-22 (see below), Peter teaches that though He was rejected by the Jews, Christ became the cornerstone of the church. He also explains the foundation of the church was the Apostles and the Prophets of the Old Testament.
19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22
From scripture we glean that Christ is the chief cornerstone and as such, provides the stability for the church; in a nutshell, He holds the church together. We also know that it is Jesus whom the quote actually refers to; Acts 4:10-12 says,
“10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Rejected by Jewish leaders and followers (and still rejected today by countless numbers), Jesus gives us stability in this corrupted world. A cornerstone is certainly a very sturdy stone, one that is solid and specifically designed to fulfill its destiny. This may be an explanation of a cornerstone but also fits Jesus himself. Self-described as the cornerstone, Jesus unifies His body of believers, both Jew and Gentile. Certainly, there are differences of opinion concerning various flavors of Christianity; however, each individual church or denomination is founded on the cornerstone which is the saving grace (eternal life) through a relationship with Jesus Himself.
From the old Testament to the New, we see the metaphor of the rejected stone repeated. For example, the Book of Isaiah discusses the Messiah who will come and in a number of places, the Messiah is referred to as “the Cornerstone,” such as in Isaiah 28:16-17:
“16 Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; Whoever believes will not act hastily. 17 Also I will make justice the measuring line, And righteousness the plummet; The hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, And the waters will overflow the hiding place.”
You may recall Ephesians 2:19-21, which we discussed earlier, is a continuance of the metaphor of the cornerstone. 1 Peter 2:4-8 further confirms this,
4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” 7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,” 8 and “A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense.”
Seeing Through God’s Eyes
In the last section we looked at Jesus as the cornerstone; He was rejected by men and as the story relates the chief cornerstone was rejected by the builder. The good news is, the rejected stone became the chief cornerstone which stabilized and stabilizes the church.
In this section, we will look at the stone from the perspective of the builder. The builder did not see anything good in the weirdly shaped stone and had it tossed back into the quarry. This is how we frequently are in life. We discard people and stuff with no consideration of how they could be or more importantly, how God sees them.
Seeing through God’s eyes is not something we should take lightly; to be able to do so, first we must see God and this includes getting right with God – confessing our sins, repenting of all of our wrongdoing, get down on our face and with great humility seek His forgiveness. If we cannot do this, how can we expect Him to let us see through His eyes. After all, what do you think God sees when He looks at us?
To see through the God’s eyes means we will see humanity with the same love, acceptance, and forgiveness as Christ. No judgement, just pure love. How is this possible when we are not in a right relationship with God? What stops us from seeing through God’s eyes? We do! We are constantly getting in our own way, tripping over our behaviors, attitudes, and actions. In addition, there is the faith issue – not having it or thinking we do but in reality, we do not.
Consider this, just maybe, we don’t want to see what God sees. Perhaps we don’t want to face the truths He sees or perhaps, we may not want to exert the effort to be close enough to Him to accomplish this. Also, with God’s vision comes responsibility and we may not want to shoulder that obligation.
The builder who discarded the stone had talent, knowledge, and skill; however, he lacked sufficient vision to see that even the most oddly shaped stone may have a purpose. Because he could not see what the architect designed and did not check with him, he failed in his duty as a builder and almost jeopardized the entire project. Too often we miss seeing what God has designed because we are so focused on appearance, we miss the God things. How patient He must be to put up with all of us running around doing what we think He wants rather than seeking Him so we can do what He really wants. 2 Corinthians 13:5-8 says,
“5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. 6 But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified. 7 Now I pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do what is honorable, though we may seem disqualified. 8 For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.
With a goal to improve and with humility, be introspective and as you examine yourself, find what God sees in you that is not pleasing to Him. Knowing your goal is to become who God wants you to be, try to see the you He sees now; be honest and dismiss your pride, otherwise the exercise is fruitless. Then ask Him to help you make the changes necessary to be more pleasing in His sight.
It may require us to repeat this process many times until we get it right and it may take a long time to get there. At the same time, practice loving the way Jesus did, practice forgiving the way Jesus did, and practice accepting the way Jesus did. The better you get at this, the sooner you will be able to begin seeing the world and its inhabitants the way God does. I told you this would not be easy and would take work, but it is worth the time and effort.
Allow the Holy Spirit to educate you on how to avoid judging others, circumstances, events or anything else until you have all the facts and direction from the Holy Spirit. If the builder had asked to look at the architects plans, he would never have made such a costly error and whatever delays were experienced in completing the temple would not have happened. In the same light, check the architects plans before you reject anyone or anything-after all, just because a rock looks funny, doesn’t mean there is something wrong; check the prints because there may be an amazing angel inside. Just because someone looks peculiar or acts peculiar does not mean something is wrong with them-like the stone, you really do not know what is inside or what God is doing in and through them.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. 8 It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones. Proverbs 3:5-8
Pun-ishment – Take Me Out to the Ballgame
There are over a million baseball fields in the world but that’s just a ballpark guess. Ballfields located in bad neighborhoods may be thought of as diamonds in the rough.
Jimmy, a baseball coach, told one of his players to quit singing on the mound because he couldn’t get a good pitch. Later he told another player “when you run the bases, don’t delay at any base for more than a few seconds.” I guess he was the short-stop.
My Sox don’t fit, Jimmy complained. Yank-ees on then. You’re Brave to be seen with Rays and Jays, the Twins, said Jimmy. They are known to be Brewers who act like Pirates at times. That’s ok, I’m a bit of a Tiger myself and have a Giant friend. Then again, I may just have to Dodge(r) them. Have you Mets any of the British Royals? No, but I met Cardinals and a few Padres. Well, things are getting a bit Rockies over there, so I better get back to the team.
When coach Jimmy checked the weather, he found it was going to be foggy, resulting in the game being hit and mist. He told his team, “don’t fret, as bad as the weather is here, Oracle park’s winds are brutal, because of the Giant fans.” Jimmy does not believe there are more football fans than baseball because baseball is a batter game. When Jimmy needed a better batter, he hired Martha Stewart and Aunt Jemima. Each had their own expertise; Martha preferred tater and cheese but Jemima a bunt.
While traveling, Jimmy’s team played at many Air Force facilities where the players ran around military bases. One of his players smacked a huge hit over the wall into the sewer; they called it a foul ball.
There were many celebrities on Jimmy’s team. Cinderella was an outfielder, but she was let go for running away from the ball. Others included Bruce Wayne and Dracula whose early experience as bat boys came in handy. Jimmy fired a player who wasn’t much of a hit, but he landed a new job because he had a good pitch. He also had a former estimator on his team who truly was a ballpark figure. When his best players retired, it was the end of a wonderful ERA.
Jimmy had an excellent hit and run player; sadly, it was only while he was driving. One game was cancelled by the umpires because of a strike. When the fans told Jimmy his team was boring, he shouted, “you are off base.” The fans shouted back, “that was a lousy pitch.” The newspapers nicknamed Jimmy, the chicken because of his fowl response – that really came out of left field.
Just for fun:
How can a pitcher give a straight answer when asked if he has a good curve ball?
Hank Aaron once said, “It took me seventeen years to get three thousand hits in baseball. It took one afternoon on the golf course.”