The Stone Which
is Still Rejected

“The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner.”
—Matthew 21:42

THIS IS THE TIME of year when the Christian world begins to think more than usual about those grave events which occurred in Judea nearly two thousand years ago. These culminated in the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus, the Son of God, who had come into the world to be the Messiah and King of promise. Historians tell us that there has never been a period in human history when so many outstanding events occurred to change the course of humanity, as has been true of the last few decades. This is not true when we compare the birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus with these events, although they be associated with one personality. They have already been world-shaking, and are destined to change the course and outlook of the human race to a far greater extent in the future than any event of the past.

It is written of Jesus, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” (John 1:11) This eventually led to the persecution which brought about his cruel and early death. ‘His own’ was the nation of Israel, and while many of the common people of the nation rejoiced in his message, and a few days before his crucifixion enthusiastically acclaimed him king, it was not so with the religious rulers. They enviously hated the Master, and finally succeeded in bringing about his arrest and crucifixion.

Jesus was fully aware that the scribes and Pharisees hated him, and on an occasion near the close of his ministry he related a parable to them which fit the circumstances so accurately that even they sensed the meaning of it, yet their anger was increased and they became more determined than ever to kill him. The parable was of a householder who planted a vineyard, and then left it in care of husbandmen while he went into a “far country.” When the time came for gathering fruit, the householder sent his servants to the vineyard, but the husbandmen whom he left in charge slew some of them and maltreated the others. Finally, the householder sent his own son, thinking the husbandmen would respect him, but they did not. They slew him also.—Matt. 21:33-46

Jehovah was the householder in this parable, and the vineyard was the Jewish nation. The husbandmen were the religious rulers of the nation, and the servants who were first sent to represent the householder were the prophets. The record is that they killed the prophets, and stoned them who were sent by God. Now they were planning to kill the Son whom the Heavenly Father had sent. After relating this parable, the application of which was so obvious, Jesus quoted the prophecy recorded in our text concerning ‘the stone which the builders rejected.’

Jesus himself was that stone. The builders—the religious rulers of Israel—rejected him. Isaiah foretold one of the reasons, saying, “He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” (Isa. 53:2) Jesus was perfect—“holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” (Heb. 7:26) He was kind and sympathetic, and went about doing good. He healed the sick and raised the dead. He encouraged the fainthearted, and extended mercy to sinners. He condemned the Pharisee who thanked God that he was not like the publican, and commended the publican because he recognized his sin and humbly asked God for forgiveness.—Luke 18:9-14

But these were not the qualities the scribes and Pharisees were looking for in one whom they would accept as Messiah and King. They wanted a Messiah who would not expose their evil practices as Jesus did, one whom they could control as a sort of puppet king; well qualified as a general to raise and command a conquering army, but satisfied to let them rule and exploit the people as they chose. So, from their standpoint, Jesus had ‘no beauty’ that they should desire him.

To the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus was a misfit. The illustration of the stone which became ‘head of the corner,’ suggests the idea of a pyramid shaped building—the only type of structure which could have a head cornerstone. Such a cornerstone would itself be a perfect pyramid, so could not possibly be fitted into any other part of the building. At the same time, it would be the only stone that could be the head of the corner. So the builders, not understanding the kind of building the Lord was erecting, rejected Jesus; for they could find no place for him in their own plans, and the Lord’s plan they did not know.

All the tragic experiences surrounding Jesus’ life were due to the fact that the builders rejected him. But his exaltation to heavenly glory following his suffering and death was in fulfillment of the prophecy that the rejected stone would become the head of the corner—not over the old Jewish house, which the scribes and Pharisees had so miserably warped and twisted by their selfish construction methods, but a new spiritual house. This being true, it was both appropriate and essential that the head of the corner be laid first, thus making it necessary for all the other stones to be built up to, and in conformity with, the top stone. The Apostle Peter explains this, as follows:

“To whom [Christ] coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”—I Pet. 2:4-10


When Jesus let it be known to the scribes and Pharisees that the stone they were rejecting was to become the head of the corner, he added, “Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” (Matt. 21:43) In the lesson we have quoted from Peter, in which he refers to the stone and to the new building which began to be erected with Jesus as the head of the corner, he also tells us about the nation to which Jesus said the kingdom taken from Israel would be given, which would be bringing forth the fruits thereof. Ye are that holy nation, he wrote.

The nation of Israel could have been God’s royal, or kingdom, nation. The promises were originally made to this nation. But because they rejected the prophets, and finally killed the Son, the kingdom was taken away from them and, starting with Jesus as head of the corner, God began to bring a new nation into being. Many are the promises, particularly in the New Testament, which refer to those who become a part of this new spiritual nation. “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him,” is one of them.—II Tim. 2:12

The work of God during the present Gospel Age has been the calling and selecting of those who are to reign with Christ in that kingdom. And it is to be an actual kingdom, although this fact has long been lost sight of in most of the Christian world. But the apostles and the Early Church understood it. Indeed, they believed that this glorious kingdom of the Messiah was very near. They knew that Jesus would return to set up that kingdom in the earth, making an end of earth’s long night of weeping and death. Paul wrote, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand.”—Rom 13:12

This is the ‘day’ which will result from the reign of Christ, who has been exalted to be the head of the corner in the Messianic kingdom structure. “This is the day which the Lord hath made.” “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes,” wrote David concerning the appreciation of those who would recognize in the rejected Jesus the stone which became the head of the corner.—Ps. 118:22-24

The day which is ushered in by him is a day which ‘the Lord hath made.’ It is not man’s doing that Jesus is now “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Rev. 19:16) The kingdom day of blessing is not a humanly conceived utopia—not a new deal, nor a square deal, nor any sort of human deal, but a day of brightness and joy resulting from the rising of the “Sun of righteousness.”—Mal. 4:2


It was not long after the apostles fell asleep in death that the vision and hope of the kingdom began to fade. Two apostate viewpoints gradually developed to take its place in the hearts of Christians. The first was that the kingdom of Christ would be established by the church uniting with civil powers. The professed Christian world now knows how miserably that failed. Later there developed the erroneous theory that the kingdom referred to in the Bible is merely a righteous influence exerted in the hearts and lives of believers, and that when the whole world is converted to righteous living, the kingdom shall have fully come.

Great and widespread missionary efforts have been made, especially within the last century, to convert the world, and thus to realize the fulfillment of the kingdom promises. Now it is slowly beginning to be recognized that this viewpoint is just as disappointing as was the church-state theory. Because of this, some are now admitting that they do not really know the meaning of Christianity. Some years ago a prominent Christian, Dr. Charles W. Ranson, General Secretary of the International Missionary Council, wrote in The Christian Century:

“It is increasingly recognized that we shall not find answers to some of the most perplexing questions of contemporary missionary practice until we achieve a new clarity as to the Christian meaning of history. What do we expect to happen as a result of the missionary preaching of the church? What is the meaning of Christian hope—within history and beyond history? And what is the relation of this hope to our missionary vocation? There is a sense in which the contemporary crisis of missions derives from a recognition that we do not really know the answers to these questions, or at least that the answers we conventionally offer are totally inadequate.

“To interpret this revived interest in eschatology merely as a form of escape from practical problems that have grown too difficult for solution is to misinterpret it. These questions are, rather, the result of a new realism which recognizes the catastrophic nature of history and seeks an answer to it in the light of the fullness of the Christian revelation and the Christian hope. They are an attempt to submit the whole historic enterprise of Christian missions to the judgment of the Word of God.

“It is here indeed that the present judgment of God is upon us. It may well be that what the Lord our God most requires of us at this time is a penitent reexamination of those things in which we have failed in simple obedience—the insights we have ignored, the convictions we have not had the strength or the courage to apply. This will undoubtedly be a hard road. But it may well be the road that leads to resurrection and renewal, not only for the missionary movement but for the whole church militant.

“It is thus my deepest conviction that what God requires of us is not some stupendous missionary strategy, not some pretentious piece of central planning, but a humble return to the Word of God wherein we meet once more our Judge and our Savior, and receive afresh our mandate and our marching orders.”

Here is a frank confession of frustration, and a humble acknowledgment of ignorance as to God’s purpose and work through the church. It doesn’t come from some obscure layman, but from a Doctor of Divinity, graduate of Oxford University, the general secretary of the International Missionary Council, and a widely read author of books and articles on the subject of Christian missionary work. Facing the stark fact that the missionary efforts of churchianity are failing, he earnestly recommends that all concerned return to the Word of God to find out what he really wants them to do.

It is incredible, nevertheless true, that these great leaders of churchianity should have been laboring all these years outside of the Word of God. We say ‘true,’ because Dr. Ranson admits it. He says they must return to the Bible. One cannot return to that which he has not left. Jesus told the Pharisees they had made void the Word of God by their own traditions—the traditions of men—and now history has repeated itself, for the traditions of men have been guiding the so-called Christian church rather than the Word of God.

Increasingly, throughout the centuries, these traditions have been making void the Word of God. The church-state tradition certainly did this, and while that idea is now frowned upon, it has left its mark upon religious thinking, so that even in the United States our most outstanding Protestant leaders urge the influencing of the civil government in the passing of laws which it is thought will hasten the kingdom.

An outstanding example of this was viewed by the United States’ public when on January 20, 2004, they heard President George W. Bush deliver his “State of the Union” address. This is a president that is religious and attends Bible Studies. There was no mention, however, of the nation’s depending upon the Prince of Peace solving the problem of terrorism, economic instability, and education. There was no mention of the Apostle Paul’s words in I Timothy 2:4-6, that God “will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is … one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” Instead he told how this nation would lead all people to achieve economic security and freedom from fear.

But this is only one of the ways which have helped to make void the Word of God in our day. The eternal torture theory is another. One of the most misleading modern traditions of men is the idea that the promised kingdom of God is something which must be established by human efforts. This erroneous theory rejects Jesus as the head of the corner just as definitely as the Pharisees rejected him. They wanted their own kingdom. The religious leaders of today have lost sight of God’s plan to set up a kingdom. They have no faith in the idea that Divine power will ever be exerted to take over the rulership of earth. They like Jesus as a man, but reject the teachings of the Word of God that he, as the King of earth, will rule all nations with a “rod of iron.”—Rev. 19:15

Judgment came upon the nation of Israel at the time of our Lord’s First Advent. They rejected Jesus, and he rejected them. (Matt. 23:34-39) A similar judgment is coming upon the whole civilized world now. All Christendom mourns because of failure to achieve its humanly conceived purposes as their house crumbles. Meanwhile, Jesus, the new King of earth, the headstone over his new spiritual house which has been in process of building throughout the age, is now ready to take over his great power to reign. Truly it is ‘the Lord’s doing,’ and is ‘marvellous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord hath made;’ let us rejoice and be glad in it.

We rejoice, not because the churches are failing, but because we know that God has a better plan for the conversion of the world. It is a plan which will be gloriously successful, resulting in the promised blessing of all “the families of the earth.” (Gen. 28:14) Let us rejoice in the knowledge and conviction that the day which the Lord has promised, will be one of increasing brightness and joy. It will end in a blaze of glory to him, a glory the knowledge of which will fill the earth “as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab. 2:14) This will not be because of human efforts, but because it will be his doing.

This is truly marvelous in the eyes of all those who rejoice in the God of our salvation. We humbly accept him who has been made Head of the corner as our Exemplar, Savior, and King.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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