Sunday, April 01, 2018

[Matt's Messages] “The Stone the Builders Rejected”

“The Stone the Builders Rejected”
Resurrection Sunday
Psalm 118:22-23 :: April 1, 2018

There once was a stone.

And it was a stone unlike any other stone.

Some builders were constructing a large important building, and they started, as all builders do by laying a foundation. They were trying lay a strong foundation that would keep the building supported, level, and plumb.

It was a foundation made out of giant stones.

And these builders knew that they needed to be careful to pick only the best stones for their foundation. They had to be choosy.

Especially for the cornerstone. Because everything keys off of the cornerstone. In a foundation like that the cornerstone influences, determines really, everything.

If you get the wrong cornerstone, your building won’t be level or straight or...still standing.

So these builders went to the rock quarry, hunting, hunting for the perfect stones upon which to build this important building.

And they saw this one stone.

This stone that was like no other.

And they looked at the stone.
And they looked at one another.

And then they looked at the stone.
And then they looked at one another.

And then they all said...“Nah...That one’s no good.”

“I think we can do better than that.”

“That one’s too big. That one is too ugly. That one isn’t the right color. That one will stick out too much. That one doesn’t look level or straight or strong enough. It doesn’t look like any other the other ones. That stone just doesn’t look right.”

The builders rejected the stone.

And they turned to other stones to build their building.

But that was a big mistake.

Those builders made a terrible error.

Those builders misjudged that stone.

That stone was perfect.

That stone was just right.

It might not have looked like it at first glance, but that stone was exactly the right stone, not just to be in the foundation of the building but to be the chief cornerstone.

And yet the builders had rejected it.

Does this story sound familiar?

Last week on Palm Sunday, we studied Psalm 118 together.

Which is the psalm that the crowd was singing at Jesus when He rode into Jerusalem on the donkey.

Verse 26 of that psalm says, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!”

Just a few verses before that the psalmist writes about this stone.

It’s verse 22.

“The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; 
the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”

I said last week that we’d come back to that verse today and so here we are.

“The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone...”

The psalmist gives us the end of the short story I was telling you.

It’s a surprise ending.

Do you like surprise endings?

I do, at least if they’re happy ones.

I like a good twist at end.

The psalmist says that the stone the builders rejected eventually became the capstone or, more literally, “the head of the corner.”

Could be a key stone up above, but much more likely the cornerstone.

That stone went from rejected to exalted.

From rejected to exalted.

From the lowest place imaginable–unworthy of even being in the building.

To the highest place imaginable–where the whole building rests upon it.

Quite a transformation for that stone, wasn’t it?

That’s a surprise ending which nobody saw coming.

Now in Psalm 118, it’s referring either the nation of Israel going from the bottom to the top, perhaps in battle or it’s the Davidic king having been in some way rejected and then unexpectedly rising to victory. Either way, it was a great cause for rejoicing.

And the psalmist and Israel were exuberant in their thankfulness.

But that verse was also a prophecy.

It established a prophetic pattern that would be only be fully fulfilled later on.

That’s why the crowd was shouting it at Jesus on Palm Sunday.

Psalm 118 is referenced several times in the New Testament, often by Jesus Himself.

Let's jump over to Acts chapter 4 and hear what the Apostle Peter thought about that stone.

In chapter 3, Peter and John had gone to the temple to pray. You might know the song. They met a lame man on the way. He asked for alms and held out his palms, and this is what Peter did say: “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk!”

And what happened?

“He went walking and leaping and praising God!”

And Peter and John got arrested.

They got arrested for preaching about Jesus. And they were drug before the Jewish Religious Leaders and interrogated.

And when it was time for Peter to speak, this is what he said. Acts chapter 4, verse 8.

“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: ‘Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He [Jesus] is 'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.' Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.’”

According to Peter, the story of that stone was the story of Jesus Christ.

He was the perfect candidate to be the cornerstone.

But He had been rejected.

That’s what was happening on the Cross.

Jesus was rejected.

How did Isaiah say it?

“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.”

At his trial, the leaders of Israel said, “Nah. I think we can do better than this.”

“He will not be king over us.”
“He is not the Messiah.”
“He is not the Promised One.”
“We reject Him.”

“Throw Him away.”

And the crowd shouted, “Crucify Him!”

And don’t think it was just the Jews who did that.

You and I have done it, too.

So many have misjudged Jesus over the centuries.

So many have made the grave error of spurning and rejecting Him.

So many have said, “Pass. I don’t think so.”

There are so many excuses.

Jesus doesn’t look like the kind of Savior that many want.

For some He doesn’t seem real.

If that’s been your excuse, I encourage you to study the historicity of Jesus in books like The Case for Christ out there in the foyer.

For others He seems too demanding.

He wants to be Lord and King and not our buddy or our pet or a genie in a bottle.

And other are turned off by His suffering.

They don’t want a weak Savior Who allows Himself to be killed.

Christianity is the only major religion that has the humiliation of its god at the very center of its faith.

And that suffering Servant calls for His people to suffer, too.

We don’t like the sound of that.

But it’s a terrible mistake to reject Jesus.


The good news is that Jesus is still giving out second chances.

The Apostle John said, “[Jesus] came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him [they rejected Him]. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:10-12).

Some of you have never received Jesus.

You come to church every once in a while, maybe to make somebody happy.

And you kind of believe all that Christianity stuff. At least, you nod your head at it and you aren’t against it.

But you haven’t personally, yourself put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ as your own Savior and your own Lord.

Jesus said that if you are not with Him, then you are against Him.

Don’t reject this stone.

Because there is coming a day when this stone will return and crush His enemies.

That’s what Jesus said in Luke chapter 20, verse 17.

You can turn there if you want, but we won’t be there long.

Jesus told a story that implicated the Jewish Religious Leaders.

A parable about a rejected son and how his dad would destroy those who rejected the son.

And Jesus ended His story with Psalm 118.

The Bible says, “Jesus looked directly at them and asked, ‘Then what is the meaning of that which is written: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone'?  Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.’"

We think that we are judging the stone.

The builders thought that they were judging the stone.

But at some point the stone will bring judgment on them.

Don’t reject Jesus. Receive Him while there is still time.

Go back to Psalm 118.

And notice in verse 23 who did all of this.

“The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone;
the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”


Because Jesus is alive!

The stone was rejected, but somehow, in some amazing, miraculous, and marvelous way, the stone has become the capstone! The chief cornerstone. The head of the corner!

As Peter said, “You crucified Him, but GOD raised Him from the dead!”

That’s what we believe.

And it’s marvelous in our eyes.

It’s the greatest thing.

It’s precious.

1 Peter 2, “Now to you who believe, this stone is precious” (v.7).

We don’t value anything higher than the Risen Lord Jesus Christ.

And that’s why we proclaim His name to the world.

He was rejected, crucified, dead and buried.

But up from the grave He arose!
With a might triumph over His foes.

What a wonderful surprise ending? Or should I say, surprise beginning?

“The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone;
the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”