Sunday, October 02, 2011

That breaking stone

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 21:33-46

TO CHEW ON: "And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder." Matthew 21:44

Another vineyard story! This one Jesus tells to the chief priests and Pharisees during a temple teaching session. They soon suspect that when He refers to wicked vinedressers who kill the landowner's son, He is talking about them.

Jesus clears up any doubt by spelling it out:
"Have you never read 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.'? (quoting Psalm 118:22-23).
Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing fruits of it" (Matthew 21:42-43).

In this way He foretells the inclusion of non-Jews (Gentiles) in His kingdom of God plan. It is a plan, we discover in the very next verse, which involves a crucial life altering decision not only for groups of people (nations) but for every individual who encounters Jesus:

"Whoever falls on this stone will be broken, but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder" (Matthew 21:44).

How does encountering Jesus break us? One way is in its cost. It costs a true disciple everything to follow Jesus. Paul describes it as being crucified (put to death) with Him (Galatians 2:20).

But if we decide to ignore Him and go our own way, that decision too has breaking consequences. Paul spells them out with stark realism in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 (a passage that won't win any awards for subtlety or political correctness):

"... it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed."

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for coming as the obedient Son and giving Yourself to die for me. May all who read this be broken by you in the disciple, not the eternal destruction way. Amen.

MORE: Doubting Jesus' deity still flourishes today

The heart of the issue of Jesus for the chief priests and Pharisees was that they didn't believe He was who He said He was. Thus everything He said was controversial and sounded like heresy to them.

The refusal, in religious leaders, to believe that Jesus is God, indeed skepticism about the very existence of God, continues to this day. Albert Mohler discusses recent developments within a prominent Protestant denomination in Holland in the article "A Laboratory for Christianity's Destruction"

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