The Rejected Stone (Mark 12.1–12)

by Stephen Hebert on Thursday - 6 October 2011

in New Testament

This morning’s reading, Mark 12.1–12:

Then he began to speak to them in parables. ‘A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a pit for the wine press, and built a watch-tower; then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants to collect from them his share of the produce of the vineyard. But they seized him, and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. And again he sent another slave to them; this one they beat over the head and insulted. Then he sent another, and that one they killed. And so it was with many others; some they beat, and others they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, “They will respect my son.” But those tenants said to one another, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.” So they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this scripture:
“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is amazing in our eyes”?’

When they realized that he had told this parable against them, they wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowd. So they left him and went away.

Immediately, we try to put ourselves into this parable. Am I one of the wicked tenants? Am I a slave? Am I somehow related to the son or the owner? The standard interpretation, of course, posits the slaves as the Old Testament prophets and the wicked tenants as the Jewish establishment. What interests me, however, is the use of Psalm 118 at the end and this idea that the rejected stone becomes the corner stone. How often have I rejected the most important stone? Is it possible that I’m committing the same foul crime that the wicked tenants have?

What we do with Jesus is truly important. We can choose to cast him aside, ignoring him. Perhaps we only bring him out on special holidays, if we keep him alive at all. Or we can place him as the cornerstone, the foundation upon which we stand.

Lord, let me not reject you.
You are more glorious than anything else;
Other stones are mere pebbles next to you.
Keep my eye on what is truly precious.

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