“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)

Jesus related a series of parables that told the Pharisees, the leaders of the Jews, 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 in the image of Isaiah 5, the people of God had consistently behaved with great wickedness and rebellion. They refused to obey God and routinely rejected His prophets and teachers. Ultimately, they would reject His Son and put Him to death.

Today, the words of Jesus serve as a warning to those who are rioting and engaging in violence against what they perceive to be the injustice of cultural and national institutions, but He also offers an invitation. Jesus proclaimed that the Kingdom of God is open to the weak, the downtrodden, the unclean, and the sinners, but not the self-righteous power mongers such as the Pharisees and their followers. People who are oppressed should look to Jesus for help. As the quotes from Psalm 118 and Isaiah 8:14-15 tell us, 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. 

Today, those who use violence and hatred to attack other people or the cultural system must not expect that the Kingdom of God will accept them as they are. These claim to be oppressed or fighting for the oppressed but they display a self-righteousness that presumes that are morally pure with the right tell others how to live, just as the Pharisees did. They are their own gods, determining right and wrong and enforcing their code of justice on everyone else. Those who exalt self or other people or causes reject Jesus and so they will not enter God’s Kingdom no matter how much they are oppressed. In eternity, all their deeds, writings, and pronouncements 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. Only what is done for Christ will last.