Theme: God’s Justice
This parable warns that we must act now, in the day of grace.
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.
Here I think of the title of another of Jonathan Edwards sermons: The Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners.” When most people hear that title today, they are quite taken aback and ask themselves, What kind of person must Jonathan Edwards have been to have talked like that? What kind of a person would link justice to damnation” But Jonathan Edwards was not the originator of such thoughts. They come from the words of the Pharisees and scribes as they pronounced judgment on themselves in replying to Christs question. Moreover, that is the judgment you and I must render on ourselves if we are honest. What would you say if Jesus asked his question of you: “What do you think the owner of the vineyard should do Unless we are absolute hypocrites or absolutely ignorant, we would answer as the leaders of Jesus day did and thus, likewise, render judgment on ourselves. We are such people, and that is our doom.
Hear the Lord’s own judgment. After listening to what the men of his time thought should be done, he 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.”
At the end of his own study of this parable William Taylor, a great Bible teacher in New York at the turn of the century, spoke of three great points to the parable. It contains: 1) our greatest privilege, 2) our greatest sin, and 3) our greatest doom.
The greatest privilege is to have the kingdom of God entrusted to us. That is what happens when the kingdom of God is preached. It is placed within our grasp for receiving, feeding upon, and entering into. If someone offered you the privilege of becoming the President of the United States, it would not compare with the privilege of receiving the kingdom of God. If someone offered you the privilege of becoming a multi-millionaire, it would not compare with the privilege of becoming a son or daughter of the Most High.
The greatest sin is to reject that kingdom, which is to reject Jesus Christ. Jesus is not here today for us to kill him. But we do what we can unless we are made anew by God. We reject his claims, and above all we reject his lordship over our lives.
The greatest doom is to be crushed by the kingdom of that very Christ who is offered to us in salvation. When Jesus refers to being crushed by “this stone,” I think he is 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 (Daniel 2). The stone is Christ. The mountain is his kingdom. So Jesus is saying to the people of his day, “You can be part of that kingdom and thus grow up with me and fill the earth. That will happen by decree of the Most High God, my Father. Or you can stand against that 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 judgment. Now is the day of grace. Come to him. Come now. Even as he spoke those words, the Lord Jesus Christ was on the way to the cross to die for such as will have him. Come, and be among that believing band.
How do we continue to act like the tenants did?
What is the Lord’s own judgment on the Jews? On us?
Define the greatest privilege. Do you regard it as such?
What is the greatest sin?
Explain the greatest doom. How might this be reflected in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream?
The judgment of God is not to be taken lightly, because God is not to be taken lightly