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2007-10-28_The Stone Rejected_Matthew 21.23-22.14_SL

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The Stone Rejected

Matthew 21:23-22:14   |   Shaun LePage   |   October 28, 2007

I.       Introduction

A.    Dutch host—wanted to meet Americans, but rejected Christianity. Why? Romans 13:1-7

B.    Americans—by and large—have lost their respect for authority…it’s easy to understand (e.g., Watergate, government corruption, church leaders sex scandals and getting rich off naïve; absentee fathers, etc.). But respect for authority in marriage, home, church, government is mandated by God—rooted in His ultimate authority.

C.    Jesus’ authority questioned in 1st century; questioned even more today; few days before cross, Jesus clarified the source of His authority and warned those who reject it.

II.     Body

A.    The Authority Not Recognized (21:23-27)

1.     (23) back in “temple” (day after cleansing temple; right after cursing fig tree—symbolic of rejection of Israel); “chief priests and elders” spiritual authorities—right to question someone teaching in temple; Beginning of confrontations with religious leaders (21-23); Authority question and 3 parables (21:23-22:14)—all about Israel; asked “by what authority”—they hadn’t approved, but Jesus already demonstrated / explained the source of His authority throughout Matthew, but even since arrival in Jerusalem (triumphal entry (vs.1-11); cleansing of temple “My house” (v.13); healed blind and lame (v.14); received “Son of David” praise (v.26)—shocked leaders; “these things”—source obvious

2.     (24-25) Jesus answers with question—implication: same source of authority as John; Jesus clearly taught John’s authority was “heaven” sent (11:7-15); “didn’t believe John, you won’t believe Me”

3.     (26-27) Leaders demonstrate not concerned with truth (just wanting to lord authority—intimidate), but don’t want to look foolish or take unpopular stance—abuse of authority; Jesus—though already implied answer—said “neither will I tell you…” Basic rule: reject revelation, not given more (Mt 15:14; Rm 1:18-32; 2 Th 2:9-10)

4.     All: Submit to heaven-sent authority; don’t suppress truth

5.     Authorities: Submit to higher authority; don’t abuse your privilege

6.     Jesus refused to give further revelation to dishonest doubters; see 13:10-17 (parables) exactly what Jesus did next—spoke in parables (4 related to the issue of authority).

B.    The Will Not Done (21:28-32)

1.     (28-30) “Man” (Father) “two sons” 1st said no, but went; 2nd said yes, but didn’t

2.     (31) Great question—obvious answer: “first…did the will of his father” (key phrase); shocking revelation: 1st son=“tax collectors and prostitutes”; 2nd son=“you” (chief priests / elders); so “chosen nation” repeatedly said “yes” to God, but did not “do the will of the Father”—here addressing the recent past…

3.     (32) “John came…way of righteousness…did not believe…tax collectors / prostitutes did believe…seeing this…did not…believe”; what does it mean to “do will of the Father”? Jn 6:28-29—did not believe John’s announcement of Jesus

4.     Do the Father’s will: believe the Father’s Word! John was God’s messenger, so to believe John was to believe God’s Word—whenever we believe one of God’s prophets (e.g., John, Paul, Moses, Isaiah, etc.) we believe God; we “do the Father’s will”—Father is the true “authority”; “tax collectors and prostitutes” humbled themselves and repented of sin, but self-righteous leaders let pride keep them from getting into “the kingdom of God” (like fig tree—appeared to be fruitful (spiritual) but only empty—no true righteousness); don’t just talk the game, really believe, trust, do the Father’s will

C.    The Fruit Not Produced (21:33-46)

1.     (33-39) “Landowner”=Father/God; “Vineyard”=Israel, common OT imagery; “slaves”=prophets (many OT examples of martyred prophets); “son”=Jesus (v.39—another prediction of His coming death; parable describing the present)

2.     (40-41) Q & A—didn’t get the point yet; pronounced own judgment “wretched end”

3.     (42) “The Stone…rejected” Ps 118 quote also used by Peter, Paul, Mark and Luke—reference to Jesus, Messiah—foundation of the kingdom—rejected; but “became the chief corner stone”—resurrection, “cornerstone” of the Church

4.     (43) so “kingdom of God will be taken away…” from those builders and “given to a people…” probably the Church; “producing the fruit of it”…

5.     Do your job: produce fruit. Kingdom taken away from Israel for not producing fruit, we should learn from their mistake and produce fruit (John 15, etc.)

6.     (44) back to “stone” (mixed metaphors)—warning to those who will “kill the son” and “reject the stone”; “broken to pieces…scatter him like dust”—warning not heeded

7.     (45-46) “understood” but still “sought to seize Him”—“feared the people” not God!

D.    The Invitation Not Accepted (22:1-10)

1.     1st parable (past rejection of the Father (“will of the Father”; John was Father’s messenger)); 2nd parable (present rejection of Christ); 3rd parable (future rejection of Holy Spirit (working through Church))

2.     (22:1-4) “king”—no more “authoritative” title for the Father; “wedding feast for his son” points to the 2nd Coming (Rev 19); “slaves”=apostles/earliest church (whole section focused on Israel); “unwilling to come”—most Jews rejected Messiah; “invited” (CBC Purpose statement: The purpose of CBC is to glorify God by inviting people to trust Christ and grow up in Him); nature of current Church Age is an invitation to come to the wedding feast of the Son of God!

3.     (5-6) Response #1: “paid no attention…their way…farm…business”—apathy, distracted by daily, less important things!! Dishonored the Son; Response #2—complete rebellion again authority of King and Son; “rest seized…mistreated… killed…” (apostles all died in persecution/exile—James first; early church)

4.     (7) “destroyed those murderers…city on fire” probably prediction, fall of Jerusalem A.D. 70; point: refusal to accept invitation, dishonor toward Son, rebellion/hatred for King, Son and servants will be judged

5.     (8-10) outcast Jews (tax gatherers, prostitutes) later Gentiles—“filled with guests”

6.     Pay attention, RSVP, and invite!

E.    The Wedding Clothes Not Worn (22:11-14)

1.     Parable within a parable; difficult interpretation

2.     (11-12) “not dressed in wedding clothes…friend…come in here…”

3.     (13) “bind…outer darkness…weeping and gnashing of teeth”

4.     3 main interpretations: key questions: what are “wedding clothes”? Does lack of “wedding clothes” = “unsaved”?

a)     Man was a believer, but did not do enough “acts of righteousness”; lost salvation

b)     Jew trying to get in because he is a Jew; lesson: individual faith, not nationality was necessary for entrance

c)     Saved, but loss of reward—not salvation. Not dogmatic, but very interesting:

(1)  Take this as “wedding supper of the Lamb” in Rev 19:6-8,14 (also 3:5)—reference to clothes there, too!; “Righteous acts”

(2)  Note: accepted the invitation, in kingdom at wedding feast; sounds like a saved man, but…darkness/gnashing sounds like description of hell

(3)  Joseph Dillow (Reign of the Servant Kings, ch15) makes a good case that “darkness” isn’t necessarily hell and “gnashing of teeth” is extreme regret—picture of a carnal believer who got into the kingdom, but is excluded from the wedding feast which is only for the overcomers who were faithful and performed “righteous acts”: “According to the Lord, all Christians are called to participate in the wedding, but only some will enjoy it, i.e. be there. This is apparently the meaning of the proverb “Many are called, but few are chosen.” This ancient proverb…simply means that, while all Christians are invited to the banquet, only those wearing the wedding garment are chosen to participate in it. It is not necessary to understand this proverb as saying that all are invited to be saved, but only the elect will be. Those Christians who fail to persevere to the end, who are carnal, will experience three negatives at the future judgment: (1) a stinging rebuke (Mt. 24:45-51); (2) exclusion from the wedding banquet (Mt.221-14; 25:1-13); and (3) millennial disinheritance (Mt.25:14-30).” (p.353)

5.     Interpretation a: Contradicts too much Scripture—salvation=eternal life!

6.     Interpretation b: Believe! Put on the righteousness of Christ

7.     Interpretation c: Overcome! Put on the righteous acts of a saint  

III.   Closing:

A.    The picture Jesus painted in these parables is both good news and bad news. The bad news is this invitation will not always stand. The doors will be shut and many will not be allowed into the kingdom. The Stone which was rejected by the Jewish leaders will break into pieces and scatter into dust.

B.    Today, there is good news. The Father invites us to recognize and submit to His authority. He sent His Son who died for us. He sent His Holy Spirit, He sent prophets and apostles to invite us to the wedding supper of the Lamb. Many are called—to recognize the authority of Christ, to do the will of the Father, to produce kingdom fruit, to accept the invitation and to put on the wedding clothes of righteousness. What is your answer?

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