By Nathan Ciulla
Read: Matthew 21: 20-22 and Matthew 21:42 NLT
Imagine for a moment that you’re one of the twelve chosen by Jesus to walk with Him in His ministry. Everything that you’ve seen and experienced is culminating in this week leading up to His death and resurrection. Every lesson, every miracle, every word spoken was taking on more and more importance as the day drew near. As we walk with Jesus into the Tuesday of Holy Week, we discover His clash with the religious leaders of His day.
Jesus went into the Temple and began to teach. While He was teaching, the Jewish religious leaders came to challenge Him. They feared Him and tried to trap Him so they could take Him before the religious courts. He challenged everything they knew about religion, and about how to be in right standing with God. They were terrified that He would bring down God’s wrath on the Jewish people.
But Jesus would not allow these men to derail his mission of reconciliation. What they didn’t understand was that in the future, salvation would come from faith in Jesus, not obedience to the law. It didn’t matter how carefully they tried to follow the law or meet God in the Temple. The bar was too high, and they would never be good enough through their own efforts.
Jesus was about to become the cornerstone of His new church. He would be the foundation of human relationship with God instead of the Law and the Temple. Jesus taught in verse 42, “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.” These leaders were building the religious institutions of the day, and they had rejected Jesus. But God had a plan that they could not perceive.
Jesus refused to be trapped, and answered their question with questions of His own. He told them two parables. These parables were coded messages to the religious leaders of the day. They were rejecting the son of God and so would be themselves rejected by God. Those who would inevitably inherit the kingdom of God would ironically be the most sinful, not the most righteous. “John came to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did...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” (Matthew 21:32,43). The ones most aware of their desperate need for Jesus have always been the closest to him.
Prayer: Pray that you would learn to lean into Jesus as life brings tests and challenges. That we understand how much we need Him. Ask today for Him to be near to you, so when the challenges and tests arrive, we will find our strength in Him.