“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes.” (Mark 12:10,11)
Normally, when we listen to a story or watch a movie, we think about the characters and make judgments about them. We think about whether they deserve praise or blame, reward or punishment: we want the goodies to win and the baddies to lose. We have this way of thinking right from the beginning when we are children first listening to stories. Although we might become more sophisticated as we grow, our sense of what is right and wrong remains, and we listen to or watch stories ready to make judgments.
In today’s reading, Jesus tells a story to the chief priests, scribes and elders who have questioned Jesus about his authority (Mark 11:27,28). In the story, Jesus talks about the tenants of a vineyard, who not only rob the owner of his produce but also mistreat and kill his servants and even his son. Jesus knows that the chief priests, scribes and elders will be able to judge for themselves that the tenants in the story are wicked. Jesus also knows they will eventually understand that he is speaking about them.
It can be a shock for us to realize that, in the story we listen to, we are the ones in the wrong. This is how it is in the Bible: God’s word reveals to us that we are sinners, we have acted unjustly, and we deserve condemnation. This would be too much for us to bear, except that Jesus, who tells us stories that reveal our need, is also the one who has gone to the cross to take away our sins. Although Jesus was despised in life — and suffered a shameful death — through his resurrection, he showed that he is the cornerstone of the church and that as God builds us together in him, we can live with humility and hope.
Father, thank You that Jesus is the cornerstone and that through holy baptism, we are built together into the temple that is His body. Give us humility to acknowledge when we sin, and give us hope that You give us new life through Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.