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But he [Jesus] looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’?”  (Luke 20:17 ESV). Lent is a special time for us to ponder what happened on the cross and how Jesus was rejected For Our Sake. Today at International Lutheran Church, we ponder how the Messiah was rejected not only by the people whom He came to save, but even by the Father who loves Him dearly so that you and I would be given the kingdom.

If you have ever been rejected, you know how it can make you feel beat up inside. No one likes to be rejected. And yet we often reject one another. Sometimes we even use rejection as a tool to ‘protect’ ourselves. Before we get hurt, we back out and reject those around us. Yet this seldom makes us feel any better. We still feel empty inside. In the end we all desire to be welcomed and embraced.

Luke 20:9-20 marks the boiling point in Jesus’ relationship with the religious leaders of His day. The chapter begins with their questions of His authority and our parable today ends with them knowing that this parable was spoken “against them” and they seek to “lay their hands on Him” at that very hour. We must remember though that the parable was first spoken to the people – the average lay person listening and watching Jesus. For Jesus is laying the very foundation of our faith that cannot be avoided or discarded. The very rejection of Jesus by all is the unpleasant truth that in the end it is the only thing that can change anything. We should note that the theme of the vineyard is a powerful one used throughout the Old Testament and is another way to refer to the people of God. The tenants are the leaders of Israel and the owner or lord of the vineyard is God. The point of the parable is not lost on the people or the leaders. Constant rejection of the Owners’ lordship can only end in their own rejection. It seems straightforward enough and very plausible. Yet the people cry out “No!” But we might ask, “What were they thinking?” Or better yet, “What was I thinking?” 

Rejection is a serious problem. Most people will only give you one chance to prove your integrity. In this parable, however, the Owner sends three servants and then even His own Son. This is no careless and absent Lord, but one of endless patience and dedication. His sole desire is to see His harvest come home. But to bring in the fruit of His Vineyard, His Son is killed and thrown out. 

Jesus’ parable tells us of His ultimate sacrifice and willingness to garner what is the Lord’s even at the cost of His own life – His own rejection. Jesus points us to His cross and the meaning of His cross. Not only is He rejected by sinful human beings (killed and thrown out of the Vineyard), but He is rejected by His own loving Father. Yet in His rejection for our sake, Jesus gives to us what could never be ours – His very kingdom! On the cross, God lays the very Foundation – Jesus – the Cornerstone. In Him we will not be rejected but welcomed home.

Pastor Carl