Friday 05 March 2010

Bible Book:

"Jesus said to them, 'Have you never read in the scriptures: "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord's doing, and it is amazing in our eyes?"'" (v.42)

Matthew 21:33-46 Friday 5 March 2010


This parable is an allegory - a story where the elements withinit are symbols representing other things. So, the vineyard isIsrael (a commonly used symbol) with the landowner being God. Thetenants are the Jewish leaders, the slaves who come to collect theproduce are the prophets, and Jesus is the landowner's son. The newtenants are the Church (comprising both Jews and Gentiles - nonJews), or possibly those who are part of God's kingdom after thefinal judgement.

The story is of a scenario which would have been familiar to Jesus'listeners: an absentee landlord leases the vineyard to workers whopay an agreed portion of the crop as rent, keeping the rest forthemselves. Jesus' audience are well aware of what would happen totenants who did not pay the rent, let alone those who kill thelandowner's representatives. But as they answer Jesus' question,they are unwittingly describing their own fate.

This is one of the places in the Gospels where Jesus implies thathe is someone special, unique, that he is somehow different to theprophets who have gone before him. In the Old Testament 'son ofGod' is used in several different ways: to refer to angels, torefer to the king (which could also be a messianic reference), totalk about particular righteous men, or to describe Israel. Jesushere designates himself as the son,somehow set apart.

Jesus quotes from Psalm118:22-23, a text which was commonly used when talking aboutthe Messiah, describing the one who was rejected as becoming thecornerstone, the key to the building. In Hebrew the words son (ben)and stone ('eben) are very similar, so they would be easilyconnected in people's minds. This psalm was sung at the Jewishfestivals, so Jesus' listeners would no doubt remember his teachingat those times.

To Ponder

In what ways, for you, is Jesus different fromthe earlier prophets?

Jesus compares himself to the cornerstone,essential to the structure of a building. Is Jesus essential toyour life? In what way?

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