Therefore thus says the Lord God, “Behold I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’ ~Isaiah 28:16
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the LORDS’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. ~Psalm 118:22
Jesus is our Cornerstone. All three of the synoptic gospels reference the time when Jesus is speaking in the temple, following the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The chief priests and elders have challenged his authority to teach, and Jesus proceeds to tell them two parables regarding the kingdom of God and who will be a part of it. In the second parable, the wealthy owner of a vineyard has cared for and leased his land to some tenants. When it was the harvest, he sent servants to retrieve the fruit. The tenants beat and killed them. Again he sent servants and again they were killed. Finally the owner sends his son, believing they will respect him. The tenants instead kill his son in the hopes of gaining his inheritance. Jesus is drawing a parallel between the chief priest and Pharisees and these tenants – through Israel’s history, prophets, servants of God, had been sent to lead the people to repentance and now before them was the Son. Yet instead of repentance, the leaders through the years had created more religion, tradition and rules.
Here now in front of them was the Christ, Messiah, their Savior who would rid them of all sin, sacrifice, and empty religion. For He had come to set the foundation for true relationship with God built on grace, forged through His sacrificial love and death, that we may be saved. He knew the path of the next few days, and He called for repentance but knew rejection.
A cornerstone, often called a setting stone or foundation stone, was the first stone set in masonry foundations. All other stones were set in reference to this stone, determining the entire structure. This stone kept the walls straight. The total weight of the building would rest on this stone, so if it were to be removed, the building would collapse.
Jesus is the foundation, the stable, immovable set point on which the redeemed are built, both corporately and singularly. This picture of Jesus is not just a prophecy that He fulfills; we see the continued teaching of this idea all through the New Testament. Peter referenced Jesus and Ps. 118 when he was brought before the Council following Pentecost in Acts 4:11. Then in 1 Peter 2:4-8 Peter explains that as we come to Christ, the living Stone rejected by men but chosen by God, we too are living stones being built up as a spiritual house to worship God though Jesus Christ. Paul also uses the same word picture in Ephesians 2:19-21. In Romans 9 Paul declares that righteousness comes through faith, but many will stumble over the stumbling stone as they seek to work their way to righteousness.
The beauty of salvation is that not only do we freely gain relationship with the One who is the cornerstone on whom our hope rests and our faith is built, but we also join Him in declaring to this lost world that true stability and peace are from Him. Peter reminds us that the world watches our walk. To the lost, the Cornerstone is an obstacle to trip over, even to the lost pious ones who desperately seek righteousness in works and law. But to the found, He is the sure foundation, a tested stone who ensures our salvation, forges relationship, and ultimately returns to bring us home. He alone deserves the glory.