Matthew 21:33-46 Part 3

Let’s begin this morning with this precept:  to omit, or remove, Jesus Christ from the scene is to invite crushing defeat and disaster.

He is, after all, Alpha and Omega; the One without Whom nothing was made that was made:  He is the Son of God, the Word of God made flesh; He is God’s King Who, having risen from death, was given all power and dominion over Heaven and Earth; He is the One in Whom mankind is rebirthed from its cursed condition – therefore mankind’s only hope; He is the One by Whom God the Father is perfectly honored and glorified.

But man in his cursed, satanic condition seeks to be free of Him – the idea being that once man is free of Christ he is free indeed to be man.  But the reality of that is that man without Christ is free… to be cursed and condemned man!  He takes his own way which inevitably leads to disaster – personally, familially, ecclesiastically and nationally… eternally.

So much today is made of the mark of the beast in John’s Revelation – that it is some angelic beast from the bowels of hell which makes war with the Spirit of Christ to destroy man.  But it is clear that that beast is cursed man himself attempting in himself to achieve the seven-fold perfections belonging only to the Triune God, but instead remaining an interminable list of defective sixes.  Unable to approach the glory of God, he is dead in his fallen, cursed condition – a condition inevitably leading to disaster – and he falls short of the perfection required by God and provided in Christ!  Whatever man so chooses to do, it is already cursed and doomed!

And within that condition there are other certain “inevitabilities” which become apparent.  We’ve already mentioned that there’s a consequential relationship between evil and the decline of language; and, too, we’ve seen among the leaders of Israel the relationship between anger and violence.

And now I would like for you to see that in the disastrous consequences of man without Christ there is also that relationship between immorality and oppression.

In their long history the elders and priests of Israel had reshaped and redefined the Law of God in order that, for example, they might be set free in their own sexual promiscuity (this will become more evident in the coming chapters; and not just with regard to sexual immorality but we should also include the broader definition of immorality – lawlessness).

And, at the same time, the leaders of Israel had become more oppressive in their blind leadership!  This to the point that they would kill the prophets sent from God in order to keep their control over the nation and the people!  And now they were set to kill the Father’s Son and legal Heir!  The fact is that this Sanhedrin council was oppressive and repressive to the point that the nation had now come under the heavy hand of the judgment of God!

Now, those two things (immorality and oppression) being identified together has great historical precedence.  Whenever there has been lawlessness and sexually immoral behavior in high places, accompanying that there has always been the abuse of power and the abuse of people – oppression, tyranny.  And there’s a reason for it.  And it’s a Theological reason (since everything has a theological reason).

As R.J. Rushdooney has so carefully explained in a number of places, lawlessness depersonalizes humanity!  You see, man was made in the very image of God; and God is “person”.  So man is only man (the person) in the truest sense when we look and act like the One in Whose image we are made!

Now, the one who is sexually immoral (a very personal sin), has so degraded the image of God in man that human beings are then seen and used in a very impersonal way.  And that naturally occurs.  Humanity has been “depersonalized”.  If God is “Person” and His image is degraded, then that’s a “depersonalization”, isn’t it?

And sexual lawlessness is the most “personal” “depersonalization”!  And those in high places, degrading the image of the Personal God, easily progress to other kinds of oppression of their constituents.  So there arises a total control of society by a number of means, including reeducation, law proliferation, heavy taxation, compartmentalization of religious institutions, and others.  It’s a controlling, depersonalized humanity.

But tyranny is heralded by sexual immorality.  It’s inevitable, because humanity ceases to be “persons in the image of God” and become objects of political, sociological, psychological or economic manipulation.  And you’ll recognize, of course, that that’s exactly what goes on in the highest places of our own government – even though we’ve had this constant flow of Christian witnesses in our history!

The depersonalization that has occurred in the obviously profligate sexual sins of our leaders (many of them), is also being reflected in policies which centralize the state and control the population.  The entire view of “government” is toward the manipulation of political objects!  Not people made in the image of God, but objects – economic objects; psychological objects; sexual objects; religious objects – things for manipulation.  Sexual sin and oppression – they just inevitably go together!

But, as I said, man without Christ is not free to be man indeed; there is this inevitability too, that I mentioned earlier; and that is that man who removes Christ from the scene has issued an invitation to crushing defeat.  And the Invited guest will show up.  And what He will find is gross sexual immorality and oppressive totalitarianism – which He will, of course, put under His feet.

That is very much like the situation in our text, isn’t it?  Having led the elders and priests into judging themselves, verse forty-one, Jesus now proclaims the inevitability of that judgment – the center of the passage.

Here’s what He says, verse forty-two:


“…Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘a stone the builders did reject, this was made the head of the corner; this is from Kuriou, and it is glorious in our eyes?’”


Did you never read it – in the Scriptures?  (Psalm one hundred eighteen.)  The word “to read” here doesn’t mean to just read over it with the eyes; but it means to read with clear insight and understanding.  Surely the religious leaders of Israel had read the passage!  But their exposition and explanation of it had left them without the Truth!  So they had not read with understanding.

And it might be that the connection between this parabolic saying of Jesus and Psalm one hundred eighteen is a stretch for us, too, unless we “read with understanding”.  We might easily be saying, “How does Jesus move so freely from this parable to a Davidic Psalm concerning Himself as a Stone?

Well, here’s the connection.  And the essence of it has to do with the hypocrisy of Israel’s leaders.  Just as the tenant growers were worthy of death for killing the owner’s servants and son in order that they could gain the inheritance, so these men were guilty of killing the prophets of God and, now, planning to kill the Son in order to gain the inheritance!

Except these men, because of their positions, will not sorrow and turn from what is clearly happening and what they are clearly doing!  In pronouncing judgment on the hypothetical husbandmen, they refuse to admit that it is they upon whom the judgment is to be brought!  They are hypocritically remaining steadfast in denial, even with all the evidence, that they are the evil ones who are to be judged!

So Jesus proceeds to Psalm one hundred eighteen to show that rejection of Messiah by the leaders of Israel has been prophesied by God!  Not only has there been strong implication of their involvement and complicity in killing the prophets of God and in the plan to kill Jesus, but Jesus now quotes God’s Word that that’s what they’re doing!

This Psalm of David prophesied of Israel’s leaders what the husbandman did to the son; the Word of God, concerning which they are supposedly the experts, is brought to bear upon them as the figures who are condemned in this Psalm.

And what does the Psalm say?  It is a Psalm having to do with the perpetuity of the throne of David; and that perpetuity would be due to Messiah!  This is, first of all, a Messianic Psalm setting King David as an earthy shadow of the great Kingdom to come!  And contrary to the will of men, Messiah would be placed by God upon that perpetual throne of David.

And verse forty-two of our text, chosen by Christ to condemn these men, explicitly states which men would will to be in opposition to His inheriting His Kingdom!  Listen to it again:  “Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘a stone the builders did reject, this was made the head of the corner; this is from Kuriou, and it is glorious in our eyes’?”

The Psalmist, inspired of God, uses the metaphor of the prime stone of the new temple and the builders in order to illustrate the Messiah and the leadership of Israel.

The “builders” are the teachers and priests of Israel who are legally, ethically, morally responsible to God for the construction of a Godly nation – to hear the prophets with the Word of correction and instruction, to build the city and the temple of God according to His instructions, to prepare the whole nation for the coming of Messiah, to build all the institutions of society on God’s Law-word.  That’s who the builders are and what they were supposed to do.  “A stone the ‘builders’ did reject….”

But among the failures and sins of these builders, the Psalmist prophesies that they would “reject” a stone Which had been made the Head of the Corner!  And this word “reject” means that the “Stone” was thoroughly inspected and summarily dismissed as imperfect!

The Stone represents the very center of the entire kingdom’s activity – the Temple!  So the prime Stone is the Messiah Who would occupy the seat of David in perpetuity, and Who would also be the Head Corner of the New Temple – the Church!  The text says that He had been made the Head Corner.  This was from Kuriou, the Greek Word for “Lord”, or Yahveh.  The “builders” would inspect Him and reject Him even though He had been made the foundation-stone by Yahveh!

They would hear Him and see Him and see all the evidence; they would be humiliated in public because they didn’t sorrow and turn at the word of the prophets, but instead had killed them; they would see Him heal the people and reverse all of the effects of their lawless, hypocritical leadership; they would see the tax collectors and prostitutes (the dregs of society) turning in sorrow and believing Him; they would be confronted by Jesus Himself (like on this occasion) with the very words of God in the prophets of Scripture; and they would even be forced to condemn their own actions – as in the parable of the husbandmen.

And after all of this inspection, as verse forty-two says, they would still reject Him!  They would inspect and dismiss the Stone that Jahwey had already made the Corner!  In fact, as we’ve already stated, they had already planned to kill Him!

But by the glorious work of Almighty God, the murdered Messiah, murdered outside the gate for this inheritance, would be raised up from death to occupy the seat of David and become the Head Stone of the New Temple!  As the Psalmist says, “and it is glorious in our eyes”.  The commentators are unanimous, and I concur, that this Psalm is prophetic of the death of Jesus Christ at the hands of the elders of Israel, and His resurrection from death to receive His inheritance.  It is as a result of and through His murder that He is resurrected and made by Yahveh to be the Head Corner!

So you see that these elders and priests are now confronted with absolute failure (in taking the inheritance for their own); for the Word of God prophesied that their planned murder of God’s Messiah was the means which God had already planned for Him to be given His full inheritance!  In other words the scheme to kill the Owner’s Son, which was done at the last council meeting, was “from Yahveh” (Kuriou, as our text says).  What they planned to do was from God, and Messiah would take His place!  By decree!  There was just no way out!  And, as we already know, the anger and violence just burst forth from them upon realization of their position.

Now, before we do the last four verses of our text (next Lord’s Day), we need very badly to follow the “stone” metaphor through some of the Scriptures.  This happens to be a “difficult” subject of metaphor; and I think that that’s because of several things.  One is because people just don’t know enough about Christ; i.e. how is He prophesied in the Older Testament? And how is He the fullness of those prophesies?

Also, what is the nature of Jesus, and what are His attributes?  And does the “stone” metaphor fit in somewhere with what we’ve been taught about Him in the past?  Does the “common” view of Jesus allow men to easily assimilate the information contained in the “Stone” portions of Scripture – to remember it and use it freely?

And again, how free do men and women feel to use the information in these portions of Scripture?  Can it be used as freely, say, as that in the allegories concerning Jesus as “Vine”, or as “Shepherd”, or as “Lamb”?

These, plus the fact that the instances of usage are fewer, and the ideas in the metaphor seem to be a little more conceptual, are reasons why some might find this a bit more difficult.  But we can’t let that deter us from examining it as best we can.

Now don’t be concerned when I say “let’s begin”.  This won’t take but a couple of minutes more to look at the instances in the Scriptures.  Then, next week, in the light of the last four verses, we’ll try to gain some knowledge of the “Stone” that Yahveh made the Head of the Corner.

But let’s begin in the New Testament with the essential, significant, paramount passage having to do with this subject, First Peter chapter two.  Listen to a few verses (the apostle is speaking to those who he calls “newborn babes”, or “reborns”):


“To whom approaching a Living Stone, rejected indeed of men but chosen of God – precious; you also as living stones are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.  Wherefore also it is contained in the Scriptures, ‘Behold I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious; and he that believes on Him will by no means be ashamed.’  Unto you therefore who believe, precious.  But unto them who be disobedient, ‘the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner; and a stone of crushing and a rock of offense, who fall at the Word, being disobedient; whereunto also they were appointed.’”


You’ll recognize that Peter quotes from the passage in Psalm one hundred eighteen that Jesus quotes to the pharisees and priests.  In addition he brings in two passages from the prophecy of Isaiah – chapters eight and twenty-eight – both of which speak of Messiah as the “Stone”.  To those who are faithing, precious.  But to those who are disobedient, a stone of crushing and defeat! (an inevitability, as we said)

And it’s obvious that the Stone which is Christ is the One upon Whom the full weight of the Church is supported.  As the Psalmist says, Yahveh has done this, and it is glorious in our eyes!

We’ll say some more about the “Stone” next Lords’ Day, as Peter brings it forward to the New Testament Church; and we’ll try to know Him more fully as the “Stone” of Old Testament prophecy.  To become familiar with it – to use it freely as we do the others.

But for now let’s see, as we began this sermon, that those who will omit Him or reject Him as leaders and builders of society, they are inviting defeat and crushing and scattering into the wind.  Those in high places who are involving themselves in sexual immorality and its accompanying oppression and tyranny cannot be fee to be man indeed.  In their cursed and disobedient condition they may dehumanize their constituents for a time.  But it will not be so.  For one day they will be crushed on the Chief Corner Stone.

We must expect judgment to come upon them, and upon the people, and upon the nation.  But we must also remember that this is the New Age.  The Age of the King and His Kingdom.  And His Church is built upon this perpetual, immovable Stone.  And it will not crumble or fall.  And He is faithful to deliver us all into a whole and complete man.  Have you not read it?  Yahveh has done this; and it is glorious in our eyes.