Theme: Christ as Judge
This week’s lesson teaches us that we hate God, and only by his grace learn to love him
Matthew 21 :42-46
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 marvelous in our eyes’?
Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be prophet.
Yesterday we looked at the first two points that Jonathan Edwards suggested explain how we are God’s enemies. Today we will explore the other ways.
3. We are God’s enemies in our wills. That is, the will of God and our wills are set at cross purposes. What God wills, we hate; and what God hates, we desire. That is why we are so opposed to God’s government. We are not God’s loyal subjects, as we should be, but are opposed to his rule of us and this world.
4. We are God’s enemies in our affections. Our emotions also flare out against God. In prosperous times, when God seems to leave us alone and our plans are not disturbed, we manage for the most part to keep our evil affections hidden. We may even be a bit condescending at such times, as if from the throne of our own universe we might throw God a tip. But when we are crossed, when something goes wrong, our malice burns against him. “This is exercised in dreadful heart-risings, inward wranglings and quarrelings, and blasphemous thoughts, wherein the heart is like a viper, hissing and spitting poison at God. And however free from it the heart may seem to be, when let alone and secure, yet a very little thing will set it in a rage. Temptations will show what is in the heart. The alteration of a man’s circumstances will often discover the heart,” Edwards says.1 He said that these hatreds will be seen most clearly when people are cast into hell.
5. We are God’s enemies in our practice. Here Edwards gets close to the main point of Christ’s parable. For he says that although men and women cannot injure God, because he is so much above them, they nevertheless do what they can. They oppose God’s honor, persecute his prophets, attempt to thwart his work in this world and, in general terms, “[en]list under Satan’s banner” as willing soldiers.
What is to be done with such persons? That is the question Jesus asked those who were listening to His parable. He could have given the answer Himself. He could have applied His own parable. But instead, He turned to the very people He was accusing of being such bad tenants and said to them, “Tell me, what will the owner do when he returns? What is the proper response to such wicked and inexcusable behavior?” The people rightly replied, “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time” (v. 41). That was the right answer. It was the only answer anyone could possibly give. However, in rendering that correct judgment they pronounced their own doom.
What would you say if Jesus asked that question of you: “What should the owner of the vineyard do?” Unless you are an utter hypocrite or completely ignorant, you would have to answer as the Pharisees did when Jesus asked it of them. Thus would you also render judgment on yourself.
After listening to their answer Jesus concluded, “Did you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes?’ Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but he on whom it falls, will be crushed” (vv. 42-44).
The quotation is from Psalm 118, verses 22 and 23. But when Jesus referred to being crushed by “this stone,” I think He was referring to the vision Nebuchadnezzar had in the days of the prophet Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar had a dream in which he saw a statue representing four successive world kingdoms. At the end of the vision, a stone came and struck the statue, grinding it to pieces, and then the stone became a huge mountain that filled the whole earth (Dan. 2). The stone is Christ. The mountain is His kingdom. So Jesus is telling the people of His day, “You can be part of that kingdom and thus grow up in me and fill the earth. That will happen by decree of the Most High God, my Father. Or you can stand against my kingdom and be broken.”
The judgment of God is not to be taken lightly, because God is not to be taken lightly. The God who offers salvation now is the God who will judge in righteousness hereafter. If you will not have Him now as Savior, in the day of His grace, you will have Him as your Judge when you stand before His throne at the final day. The day of grace is now. Come to Jesus now. As He spoke those words, Jesus was on the way to the cross to die for such as would believe on Him. Come, and be among that believing band.2
1Jonathan Edwards, “Men Naturally Are God’s Enemies, in The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Edinburgh and Carlisle, Pa: The Banner of Truth, 1974), vol 2, p. 131
2 Ibid, p. 131.
Why do we “hide our sinful desires, according to Edwards?
What are our choices when confronted by God, the holy judge?
How does the parable of the wicked tenants present us with a sense of urgency?
Look at society today. Find evidence for the lack of fear of God. Be sure that your heart is right before Him.