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Matthew 21:42-44: The Stone the builders rejected.

Posted by adventbiblestudy on November 9, 2011

KJV Matthew 21:42-44

42. Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?

43. Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

44. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.


After years of preparation the first stage for building the new synagogue was only a few days away. A long and elaborate ceremony had been planned for months. The most prestigious religious leaders of the time were gathering to attend the festivities. Almost as much time and money had been invested in the spectacular raiment worn to the event as the funds required to building the synagogue itself.

It was not an easy task to raise the funds required to erect such an elaborate structure, which consisted of high walls, large open rooms, detailed pillars, ornate stone work, to be built using only the finest and most expensive materials. The priests had to invent special measures to convict the people into giving until it hurt. They read and reread the ancient books, studying each bylaw and precept to make certain every one was used to place the members in a position of constant repentance. The sacrificial system served the priests well as a source of almost unlimited income required to satisfy their lofty goals. Soon their aspirations were to become reality.

A large site had been cleared and prepared for the foundation. In the distance a long train of twelve oxen toiled under the strain of the heavy load being pulled up the final incline to its final resting place. The size and weight of the stone required the construction of a new custom designed cart consisting of seven extra heavy duty axles. The strain was so great on the axles an onboard lubrication system was developed to reduce the friction by constantly dripping olive oil into specially drilled holes in the support housings.

As directed by the priests, the stone was covered by one large sheet of fine linen. No one had seen the stone yet. Priests had visited the quarry site months ago to deliver the specifications. The final choice was left to the master mason, Titus.

Once the stone was drawn behind a series of large curtains pitched for the special event, the high priest with a contingency of lower ranking church officials arrived to inspect the stone. Titus directed the removal of the large hemp ropes used to secure the load. A group of six assistants positioned themselves at one end of the linen sheet, awaiting the signal. Once directed, they removed the sheet in a single motion, exposing the large, white corner stone.

In an instant the expression on the faces of the high priest and his assistants changed from excitement to shock and utter disgust. Each had imagined in his own mind an elaborate corner stone of ornate granite with veins of rich deep color with flakes of quartz glistening in the sun. Instead, Titus had chosen a highly polished stone of pure white.

In a state of anger, the high priest waved his right hand from his front, to a position over his shoulder with his thumb pointing behind him. All he said was, “take it back.” He turned around and stomped away in total disgust.


This is one of the few parables where Jesus asks, “Did you never read in the scriptures?” This indicates it is an important lesson. It also shows, Jesus was quoting directly from God’s word. “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.Psalms 118:22-24.

The stone was rejected by the builders. There are two words requiring special attention to learn the spiritual meaning. What does the stone represent, and who are the builders? To find the proper spiritual meaning for these words, additional texts containing each word must be located, and checked to make certain they are used within the same context as the original parable.



Ephesians 2:20-22 MKJV and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, (21) in whom every building having been fitly framed together, grows into a holy sanctuary in the Lord; (22) in whom you also are built together for a dwelling place of God through the Spirit.

Acts 4:10-11 MKJV be it 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, in this name does this man stand before you whole. (11) This is the Stone which you builders have counted worthless, and He has become the Head of the Corner.

1 Peter 2:4-8 MKJV For having been drawn to Him, a living Stone, indeed rejected by men, but elect, precious with God; (5) you also as living stones are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (6) Therefore also it is contained in the Scripture: “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner Stone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him shall never be ashamed.” (7) Therefore to you who believe is the honor. But to those who are disobedient, He is the Stone which the builders rejected; this One came to be the Head of the corner, (8) and a Stone-of-stumbling and a Rock-of-offense to those disobeying, who stumble at the Word, to which they also were appointed.

Jesus is the living Stone, the chief corner Stone rejected by the builders. Although Jesus was rejected by men, He is still precious in God’s eyes. Not only was Jesus rejected by the priests, scribes, and Pharisees of His time, He is also rejected by those who pass themselves off as builders today.

Those who reject Jesus do this because they stumble, or misuse the Word. They use the Word for their own gain. They study without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. They apply God’s Word in a manner that is pleasing to them, and benefits themselves. They do not have Jesus in their hearts. They may preach Jesus, but to them, His life and ways are a stumbling block.

It seems strange God would use the word builder to describe those who reject Jesus. What is a builder? One who plans for and works to build, in this case a church. Imagine building a church. After raising funds, plans must be drawn up, a suitable site chosen, and a foundation laid before the building begins. You can see the relationship between the parable of the man who builds on sand, and the other who builds on a rock to this parable. In both cases the parables refer to a builder. One wise, the other, wise in his own mind.

In this case the texts refer to a spiritual church of living stones. These living stones are people, church members. With Jesus as the head, each stone is fit together to match the contour and shape of the corner stone. After the corner stone is placed, each stone is set and measured to ensure it is straight and plumb. Each stone is carefully prepared and securely placed to create a straight, sturdy, and strong wall.

It is not the people who build the spiritual church, but God. The Holy Spirit is the only one who can change lives, prepare the living stones to be fit together with the corner stone. Each stone is prepared and fit together in whom? “Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom every building having been fitly framed together, grows into a holy sanctuary in the Lord.” There is a growth involved. A growth in Christ.

In the parable the builders only rejected Jesus. The parable does not indicate the builders had anything to do with choosing or shaping any of the stones. The builders who rejected Christ are not in the service of building His spiritual church, but an earthy building of their own design based on their traditions and precepts. A very unstable and crooked wall.



1 Corinthians 3:10-11 MKJV (10) According to the grace of God which is given to me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let every man be careful how he builds on it. (11) For any other foundation can no one lay than the one being laid, who is Jesus Christ.

A proper builder is one who knows how to build upon the foundation established by Jesus. The same foundation built upon by the apostles and prophets. The builder must be careful, always insuring he is doing everything according to the word of God. Not bits and pieces, but the entire Word of God. If a building were built with bits and pieces missing, it would be very unstable.

How was Jesus rejected, and why? He came here to free the world from sin, to teach the world of His Father’s love and character. He came here to show the dividing line between God’s word and human traditions. He came here as a man, a simple human being. He was rejected because this was not the image of God their traditions created.

He is despised and rejected of men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as it were a hiding of faces from Him, He being despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was on Him; and with His stripes we ourselves are healed. (Isaiah 53:3-5 MKJV)

The Stone the builders rejected was not the image of stone they were looking for.

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