From Praying the Names of Jesus Week Twelve, Day One
Stones were used for building altars, homes, palaces, and temples. When "capstone" or "cornerstone" is mentioned in the Bible, it refers to a particularly important stone that held two rows of stones together in a corner, one that stabilized the structure at the foundation, or one that formed the keystone over an arch or at the top of a roof parapet. In order to hold the structure together, the cornerstone had to be perfectly fitted for the task, both strong and well shaped. A flawed or poorly cut stone would compromise the building's integrity.
Jesus is the Cornerstone or Capstone to which we are joined as living stones. Together we form a spiritual house in which God can dwell.
As the foundation stone on which God is building his kingdom, Jesus is strong enough to hold everything together. He is also the fitting conclusion to all God's work. When you pray to him as the Cornerstone, you are praying to the One on whom you can base your life.
Jesus looked directly at them and asked, "Then what is the meaning of that which is written: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone'?" Luke 20:17
His Name Revealed
He went on to tell the people this parable: "A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out.
"Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.'
"But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,' they said. ‘Let's kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.' So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
"What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others."
When the people heard this, they said, "May this never be!"
Jesus looked directly at them and asked, "Then what is the meaning of that which is written: " ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone '?
"Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed."
The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him immediately, because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people. Luke 20:9-19
Lord, Jesus, you are the cornerstone on which God is building. I pray that you will help me to build my life on you in a way that makes me a vital, living stone, so that I may be part of God's dwelling place on earth.
Understanding the Name
When Jesus quoted the passage from Psalm 118:22, referring to the stone the builders rejected, he was pointing to his rejection by the Jewish nation and its leaders. But despite their rejection, God's purposes could not be thwarted. In fact, the master builder would make Jesus, through his death and resurrection, the Akrogoniaios Lithos (ah-krogo-nee-EYE-os LI-thos), capstone or cornerstone, on which he would build. The New Testament portrays the whole community of believers as a holy temple in which God dwells. To those who reject Jesus and his saving message, he will be not a cornerstone but a stone of stumbling, because rejection of God's chosen one inevitably brings judgment.
As an interesting side note, the royal name was often inscribed on the cornerstone, and among the ancient Canaanites before the time of Joshua, the laying of the foundation stone was often accompanied by human sacrifice. Tragically, a number of skeletons, especially those of small babies in earthen jars, have been found at various sites.
Studying the Name
- Why do you think Jesus' comments about "the stone the builders rejected" immediately follows the parable of the vineyard?
- What do you think it means to build your life on Jesus as the Cornerstone?
- What does it mean that Jesus is a stone that people will fall on?
Meet your spiritual ancestors as they really were: Less Than Perfect: Broken Men and Women of the Bible and What We Can Learn from Them.