Broken or Crushed

From today’s reading of Matthew 20-21

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.”

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet. – Matthew 21:42-46 (ESV)

As I read this passage and the surrounding context, it dawns on me that the religious leaders in opposition to Jesus really don’t have anything approaching a rational motive for having him killed. Their motives are fueled by the most base human emotions: fear, jealousy, protectionism, and political calculation.

I can’t stand in judgment of them, however, because so much of what I do is powered by that same fuel. Sometimes to fix something you need to break it first. I need to be broken.

The chief priests and Pharisees are doing what is natural. They are protecting their kingdom. Give almost any one of us a kingdom, no matter how tiny, and we’ll marshal all our forces in protection of it. This is human nature, the fallen human nature whose stranglehold Jesus came to break.

Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone. He holds everything together. But this central fact of creation is missed by so many. The chief priests and Pharisees missed it, and rejected the Stone of Help, the Stone that when struck produces living water.

The path they chose instead is a path many of us choose daily, driven by our own blinding hypocrisy and fear that the tiny kingdom we think so precious is going to be shaken up by this uncouth (in our eyes) Galilean.

Who does he think he is?

The Chief Cornerstone! That’s who.

Jesus presents us with two choices. Fall and be broken, or stand in our own pride and hypocrisy and be crushed. Both are painful, but those who fall upon the mercy of the Lord, though broken, are built back up into a temple of praise and worship to Him.

I need to be broken! Even as a follower of Jesus I daily see, more and more clearly, that so much of what I do is for the protection of my little kingdoms. Petty jealousies, paralyzing fears, a continual reaching out to shift the spotlight back onto me. With such a jumbled up, backwards set of priorities, if any fruit is produced it’s completely by accident and always by the grace of God.

Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.

Dear Lord, have mercy upon me, and break me to be rebuilt and restored into the destiny that you have for me: to be just like you.

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