Since God is so loving, should He allow everyone in to Heaven? In His Parable of the Wicked Tenants, Jesus described God the Landowner as generous and patient, concluding with a third characteristic of the heart of our Heavenly Father.
The Landowner is just (see Matthew 21:40-46). The landowner took the vineyard from the tenants and gave it to others. Jesus concluded His story with a rabbinical teaching tool. He asked a question: “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” (Matthew 21:40). The religious leaders spoke judgment on themselves with their answer: “‘He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,’ the replied, ‘and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who give him his share of the crop at harvest time'” (Matthew 21:41).
Next, Jesus referenced Psalm 118:22 to point to His rejection and future vindication. This appeared near the end of the last of the Hallel praise psalms, the beginning of which had been sung when Jesus had entered the gates of Jerusalem on a donkey. In this passage, the pre-incarnate Christ is referred to as the capstone, or the cornerstone. The capstone was the last stone placed in the construction of a structure, connecting two parts of an arch. The cornerstone was the first stone placed in the construction of a building. It had at least three purposes. It was the most important stone in the foundation; the stone by which all other stones were measured and aligned; and also the stone that connected other stones together. These represented functions of Christ, the first and last. He builds, aligns, and connects.
The vineyard, the kingdom of God, has been taken away from proud, religious pretenders and given to the humble, those who are in Christ, either Jew or Gentile (see Matthew 21:43). The people (ethnos) referenced by Jesus as being given the vineyard is singular, indicating Jews and Gentiles are one in Christ, the Capstone, or the Cornerstone. Jesus concluded that there were two responses to this Stone: willingly broken or unwillingly broken (see Matthew 21:44). The kingdom of God is advanced in and through only those who are willingly broken to Christ, the Capstone. It is taken from the unwillingly broken, the hard hearted, the proud, the religious. The chief priests and Pharisees knew that Jesus had been describing them (see Matthew 21:45). These popular, religious leaders wanted to arrest Jesus for His authoritative words, but they were afraid because the people had held Him in such high regard (see Matthew 21:46).
These two responses to Jesus two thousand years ago represent the same two mutually exclusive responses to the Capstone today: willingly broken (repentant) or unwillingly broken (unrepentant). Which response is yours? How are you responding to the Landowner’s justice in Christ?
This week, respond to God’s advancement of His kingdom in you by being willingly broken to Christ. If you have been selfish with the Landowner’s generosity, then willingly become broken and repent. If you have taken the Landowner’s patience for granted, then willingly become broken and turn to Him. If you have presumed on God’s justice in Christ, trusting in your own self-atonement with God, then willingly become broken and see life through the eyes of Jesus.
The kingdom of God has been taken away from the proud and given to the humble who are willingly broken on the Capstone. Bend the knees of your heart to Christ. He will build your life, align your life, and connect your life with the Cornerstone.