The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
Zechariah 4:10), but who began and finished the building, and who ' brought forth the head-stone with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it!' (Zechariah 4:7). But it was to be fulfilled in the largest sense by Messiah, as the Jews themselves acknowledge." "Israel is this stone, rejected as of no account in the political plans of those who were trying to shape the destinies of the Eastern nations at their own pleasure, but in the purpose of God destined to a chief place in the building up of history." "The emblem applies with the fullest meaning to our Lord Jesus Christ, who, though rejected by the Jewish authorities, was nevertheless destined to unite both Jews and Gentiles in one vast and glorious spiritual building."
I. THE ELEVATIONS AND BENEDICTIONS OF GOD ARE ALWAYS A SURPRISE TO THE MODEST AND HUMBLE SOUL. Their natural feeling leads them to wonder why God has dealt so graciously with them. They contrast their insignificancy in themselves with the dignities to which God lifts them; and feel the surprise of Divine grace.
II. MODEST AND HUMBLE SOULS ARE THE ONES BEST FITTED TO RECEIVE DIVINE ELEVATIONS AND BENEDICTIONS. The man who glories in what he attains, as if he had obtained it himself, is proved unworthy of the elevation, and is not likely to make the best of it. The David-mood is always more hopeful than the Solomonic. In what mood do we regard the triumphs of Divine grace in our lives? - R.T.
I. NOTICE THE VIEWS HERE GIVEN TO THE REJECTION OF THE MESSIAH.
I. VIEW THE CHURCH AS A HOUSE OR BUILDING (Isaiah 2:2, 3; 1 Corinthians 3:9).
The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.
I. AS PROPHET. The important office of teacher or interpreter of the will of God has been exercised by the Son of God ever since revelations have been made to the world. As Logos, or Oracle, the Son bears such a relation to the Father as speech does to thought. This mysterious personage was the Jehovah of the Hebrew nation, who gave the law from Sinai, and was worshipped on Sion, and came at length to "His temple," which He had consecrated and inhabited. But when Messiah appeared in human form, and began his prophetical career, proclaiming the spirituality and extent of the law of God, — affording evidence of His divine mission by miracles so decisive, so public, so frequent, so peculiar, — then was the indignation of the builders excited. And as the stone despised by the builders might be cast away among the rubbish, and be at length buried and out of sight, so was Jesus slain, and committed to the sepulchre, and hid from view in its depth and darkness; yet, though rejected, has He become the head of the corner. To prove Himself the faithful and true Witness He rose from the dead; if by His own power, then He was God, and as God could neither deceive nor betray His creatures; if by His Father's power, then Jehovah would not accredit an impostor. Now Jesus is exalted as the great Prophet of the Church, though He was once despised; and now, what with the descent of His Spirit to guide into all truth; what with the commission, "Go ye into all the world," and the varied qualifications for that lofty enterprise; and what with the living ministry which He has founded, and perpetuated, and blessed to preach the Word; may we not perceive the truth of the psalmist's declaration, and may we not add in adoring wonder and gratitude, "This is the doing of the Lord!"
II. AS PRIEST. The priesthood of Jesus is of eternal ordination. In virtue of His priesthood did He act with men as a prophet. It was necessary that He should assume our nature, that He might have somewhat to offer; yet, alas! how few recognized His sacerdotal dignity. Nor were they without warning from the typical language of their priesthood and sacrifices; yet, through prejudice, they would not recognize a priest in Jesus, for He wore not the sacred vestments, and was not sprung from Aaron, — nor an atonement in the death of Him who died on Calvary amidst the scorn and execrations of the multitude. This His noblest office was unseen, unvalued; and, in His decease, men saw nothing but the merited end of treason and blasphemy. Hoping to effect the extinction of His pretensions by His death, they assisted only in unfolding His designs. Immortal life to a dying world has flown from His blood, — yet, though the manner of His death combined the stigma of slavery with the degradation of crime, that death was a true and proper sacrifice, vicarious, perfect, accepted, successful. And now in heaven the great High Priest in the heavenly temple has become the head of the corner. Now does He pursue the great work of intercession in the realms of repose and glory; by His "own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us."
III. AS KING. The incarnate Jesus had been often depicted by the prophets as a monarch, "on the throne of His father David," — yet "when He came to His own, His own received Him not." Was not He who died on Calvary condemned for His treasonable aspirations to the throne of Judea? And who could fancy Him a king who wore no diadem and waved no banner, lived in obscurity and privation, and died in desertion and ignominy? But the stone, though disallowed of men, is chosen of God and precious. God hath raised Him from the dead, and placed Him at His own right hand, and endowed Him with universal government. The sceptre of all worlds is swayed by a human arm. So that if you consider what contempt was poured upon Jesus as a King, — how they crowned Him with thorns, and put a reed in His hand, and arrayed Him in garments of mock royalty, and bowed the knee before Him in contemptuous obeisance, and placed a tablet over His cross, and inscribed on it as His accusation, "This is Jesus, the King of the Jews"; and then again consider His present exaltation to the throne of the universe, angels obeying His word, and the countless armies of heaven rejoicing to execute His mandates, and the work of the last judgment committed to His hand; you cannot fail to perceive how truly the symbol has been verified: "The stone which the builders despised is become the head of the corner."
(John Eadie, D.D.)
II. THE CHARACTER GIVEN TO CHRIST WITH RELATION TO THIS BUILDING. He is "the Stone" in a way of eminence and excellency. He is the matchless and incomparable Stone, for He is the chief Stone of the corner; the brightness of His Father's glory is in Him, and the express image of His Person.
III. THE WORKMEN EMPLOYED IN REARING THIS SPIRITUAL BUILDING OR FABRIC OF THE CHURCH HERE CALLED BUILDERS.
IV. THE FATAL ERRORS OF THESE BUILDERS SPOKEN OF IN MY TEXT. They reject the Stone, without which their whole building was nothing but a medley of confusion, however glorious it might appear in their own eyes.
1. This fatal error of theirs proceeded from their ignorance of Christ, in the excellency of His person, and of the glorious mystery of redemption and salvation through Him (Acts 3:17; 1 Corinthians 2:7, 8).
2. Mistaken notions of the nature of the Messiah's kingdom was another cause of their rejecting this precious stone. What a dangerous thing it is not to have right conceptions of the spiritual nature of Christ's kingdom.
V. INQUIRE WHAT MAY BE IMPLIED IN CHRIST'S BEING MADE THE HEAD STONE OF THE CORNER, NOTWITHSTANDING THE ATTEMPTS OF THE BUILDERS TO JOSTLE HIM OUT OF HIS PLACE.
1. It implies Christ's exaltation and victory over all His enemies and opposers.
2. It implies that God has a great regard for the glory of His Son, as the Head and King of His Church.
3. It implies that the whole spiritual fabric or building of the Church hangs upon Him, as the superstructure leans upon the foundation and chief corner stone.
4. It implies that He alone is the centre of unity in the Church.
5. It implies that Christ is the beauty and ornament of His Church, for much of the beauty and ornament of the building lies in the corner stone.
6. It implies that they who would build the Church of Christ must still have Him in their eye, and that the whole of their conduct and administration in the house of God must be regulated with a view to His glory and honour.
7. It implies that God and corrupt builders are driving quite different measures and designs.
1. Let us beware of the fatal errors before mentioned, whereby the Jewish builders ruined their once glorious fabric, and buried themselves in the ruins thereof.
2. Let us seek the builders' word from the great Master-builder; for there is a word which Christ gives to His faithful ministers, whereby the art of building is much conveyed (John 17:14).
3. Let us take care that every stone of the building corresponds with the foundation and corner stone. In order to which, let us examine our own and others' doctrines and conversation by the plumb-line and infallible rule of the word (Isaiah 8:20).
1. The ignominy with which they treated His Person.
2. The opposition with which they met His doctrine.
II. NOTICE THE SUBSEQUENT EXALTATION OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.
1. His Person has become highly exalted.
2. The victory gained by His doctrine, in rapidly subduing the hearts of men, and nations of men, to the faith.
III. CONSIDER THIS CHANGE IN THE FORTUNES OF THE STONE AS THE DOING OF THE LORD, AND NOT THE DOING OF MAN; NOT THE WORK OF ANGELS, NOT THE ACHIEVEMENT OF ANGELS, BUT THE DOING OF THE LORD.
1. It is the doing of all the persons in the Trinity.
2. It is the doing of all the attributes of the Godhead.
3. It is the doing of all the dispensations of Providence.
IV. THE CLAIM WHICH THIS MAGNIFICENT EVENT — THE EXALTATION OF CHRIST — HAS UPON THE ATTENTION AND ADMIRATION OF MEN.
1. The exaltation of the Saviour's mediatorial person is marvellous in our eyes.
2. The victory gained by the doctrines of Christ. "It is marvellous in our eyes." There is a sevenfold marvel; whether you consider the doctrine which won the victory, the instruments employed, the weapons that were wielded by those instruments while they were propagating the doctrine, the opposition over which it triumphed, the number of those on whom it took hold, and over whom it prevailed, or the supernatural effects on all those of whom it took hold — whether you consider the one or the other, "it is marvellous in our eyes."
Homilist.I. THE FACT. We have Christ's authority for applying this spiritually to Him. The rejection of Christ foreknown. Rejection by man no proof of worthlessness: the rejected may be of God. Men reject the greater for the lesser; the moral for the sensual, all self-indulgent men risk their moral in gratifying their sensual; the spiritual for the natural, God has ordained us to life by faith, because that life is higher and nobler than the life of sense or appearance; the enduring for the sake of the temporal: all this in rejecting Christ. Hostility to Him worse than useless — ruinous.
II. THE CAUSE. "This is the Lord's doing." God works by man: through man as an agent: over man as the sovereign fjord. God works by the wrath of mum the child's rebellion and anger will not frustrate the father's purpose. That may be the Lord's doing which looks very unlike it. Evil a mystery, but God's doing through it, clear in the Gospel, though nowhere else.
III. THE RESULT. "It is marvellous in our eyes." The scheme of salvation, marvellous in conception, unlike and beyond all human thought. All that God does should be marvellous to us, would be if we were His little children. Wonder plays an important part m our history and religion.
(Homilist.)I. CHRIST REJECTED.
1. He was clearly placed before the Jewish people as the stone which God would lay in Zion as the foundation of their hopes, but they persistently refused Him. Alas, for the blindness of men's hearts.
2. His rejection was rendered the more remarkable and the more sorrowful because He was rejected by the builders or leaders of the nation.
3. It was a violent and indignant rejection. They were not content to say, "He is not the Messiah," but they turned their hottest malice against film; they were furious at the sight of Him.
4. This rejection was most unreasonable; they did. violence to truth and justice by their evil deed.
II. CHRIST EXALTED.
1. At this moment Christ has the chief place of honour in the building of God.
2. Nor is He alone eminent for His position of honour, but for His surpassing usefulness. He is the head stone of the corner, that stone which joins two walls together, and is the bond of the building. Jew and Gentile are now one in Christ Jesus. Wondrous corner stone Thou dost bind all of us together who are in Thee, so that by love of Thee we are builded together for a temple of the Holy Ghost. Thou art the perfect bond, the eternal holdfast, the Divine cement which holds the universe in one. Is it not written, "By Him all things consist"?
3. Our Lord Jesus Christ then is brought up from all rejection and shame go which His enemies put Him to be by usefulness and by honour the grandest personage upon the face of the earth; and all this none the less, but all the more, because He was rejected. He lost nothing by His enemies. They scourged His back, but they did not rob Him of that imperial purple which now adorns Him; they crowned Him with thorns, but those thorns have increased the brilliance of His diadem of light; they pierced His hands, and thereby prepared them to sway an irresistible sceptic of love over men's hearts; they crucified Him, but His crucifixion led Him to His greater honour.
III. THE EXALTATION OF CHRIST IS DUE TO GOD ALONE (ver. 23). Jesus Christ's name and work were at length had in honour in the world, but this was due to no man's wisdom, eloquence, or power, but entirely to the Lord, who is wonderful in counsel and great in might. When I consider how hostile is human nature to the Gospel, the very existence of a true Church in the world is to me a miracle. Just think of it. Why, at this very day, we have all the wisdom, and power, and eloquence, and skill of the superstition of the world arrayed against the simple Gospel of Jesus. Though they are agreed in nothing else, they all unite against Christ.
IV. THE EXALTATION OF THE REJECTED CHRIST COMMENCES A NEW ERA (ver. 24). We date from our Lord's resurrection even as the Jews of old counted from the night wherein they went out of Egypt. What is this day which the Lord hath made? I reply first, it is the day of the Gospel. Through our Lord's exaltation pardon for the guilty is freely preached among all nations, and whosoever believeth in Him hath everlasting life. What day is this which the Lord hath made? Why, in the next place, it is a Sabbath day, the beginning of a long line of Sabbaths. The day in which our Lord Jesus rose from the dead is now sacred to rest and holy joy. Let us keep it with reverent love, and bless God for making it. Again, "This is the day which the Lord hath made." The resurrection of Christ commences an era of triumph. We have spoken of the Gospel day, and the Sabbatic day, but it is also a day of victories. As Jesus Christ rose from the dead, so will His truth continually rise from the sepulchre into which men may east it. As he triumphed over the powers of death and darkness, so will His Gospel triumph over all opposition.
V. THE EXALTATION OF CHRIST SUGGESTS A PRAYER (ver. 25).
1. A prayer for salvation. Put it in the present tense. Ask for a display of the present saving power of our exalted Head.
2. The other half of the prayer is for prosperity. "O Lord, send now prosperity."
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
(H. Melvill, B.D.)
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