“Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the Scriptures: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes”? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.'” (Matthew 21:42-44)
The day after Jesus confronted the rulers of the Jews, He related a series of parables that told them in no uncertain terms that they were outside of God’s kingdom. This parable about the vineyard was a prophetic history lesson that drew on the image of Israel as the vineyard of the Lord. As with the image in Isaiah 5, the people of God behaved with great wickedness and rebellion. They refused to obey God and routinely rejected His prophets and teachers. Ultimately, they would even reject His Son and put Him to death.
Because of this rejection, Jesus proclaimed that the Kingdom of God would soon to be open to the weak, the downtrodden, the unclean and the sinners as well as Gentiles, not the religious or the self-righteous Pharisees and their followers. Rather, as the quotes from Psalm 118 and Isaiah 8:14-15 tell us, since Jesus is the cornerstone of the Kingdom of God, those who oppose or reject Him will be broken and crushed into dust and blown away like chaff. No wonder the Pharisees were angry with Him.
The same is true today of self-righteous individuals. They are in and of the world. They may value fame, wealth, pleasure and power as paradigms of true life, but those who exalt self or others and reject Jesus will not enter God’s Kingdom. Their deeds, writings, and pronouncments will be forgotten and useless. Only those who come to faith in Jesus, acknowledging their sin and weakness will live forever in the presence of the Lord.