Saturday after Ash Wednesday
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner; 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 nation producing the fruits of it. And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but when it falls on any one, it will crush him.” When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. (Matthew 21:42-45)
Often, we hear Scripture verses, passages and parables and immediately think of ourselves— “Where am I in this text? What is God saying to me?” This is right and good, but that should come after we ask, “What is this text saying about Jesus? What is this passage, verse, parable telling me about who Jesus is and why He came?” The Bible is intended, first, to proclaim the good news of God in Jesus Christ. Second, the Bible calls us to respond to the good news. This is helpful instruction as we read the Bible and hear readings and sermons in worship.
It is something of an understatement when Matthew tells us in verse 45 of our reading, “they perceived that he was speaking about them.” Yes, Jesus was speaking about them! He’s been speaking about them, and telling instructional parables about them, trying to break through to them with the good news that He is the Messiah, the Anointed One of God, sent to call them, and all, to repent and return with hearts and lives to the Lord God Almighty! Jesus is confronting them with the truth that though they claimed to be religious leaders in Israel, their lives did not manifest obedience and faithful fruit-bearing. Rather than hear and heed Jesus’ words, they questioned his authority to say such things. They would have arrested him then, but they “feared the multitudes…”
The good news is that in Jesus, the kingdom of God has come to us. Jesus is the light of the world, born in Bethlehem, visited by wise men from the East, revealed as Son of God and Savior on the mountain top as he was transfigured before Peter, James and John. He is the Word made flesh to dwell among us. He is the way, the truth and the life. He died and was raised for us and for our salvation. He is with us always, even to the end of the age. He will return in power and glory. In the meantime, we are to give our lives to Him. In the meantime, we are to be baptized, be disciples, make disciples. In the meantime, we are to love God, love our neighbor, have faith, bear good fruit. As Jesus is speaking about the chief priests and elders, challenging their lack of faith and fruit, do we perceive that He is also speaking about us?
The very stone which “the builders” rejected, is now the chief cornerstone. Let us build our lives upon Jesus, Son of the Living God! Let us bear fruit that befits the kingdom!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I place my trust, my faith, my life in your hands. Use me for your purposes, that I may bear good fruit! Amen.
Lenten Response: Tomorrow in worship, ask first, what is this lesson saying about Jesus?
Video Devotional: From Ashes to Easter
Additional Daily Readings: Genesis 34; Psalm 44; Matthew 21:28–44
Weekly Reading: http://bit.ly/2DgeswJ
Today’s devotion was written by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism.