The stone which the builders rejected…

Some notes on how Christ used scripture in his preaching…

In Luke 20:17-18, Christ (presumably speaking in Aramaic) engages in wordplay in his segue from a parable of the son (ben) to a judgment regarding a stone (’eben). Here Christ calls himself the rejected but judging stone, joining together the rejected stone in Psalm 118:22, the stumbling stone from Isaiah 8:14-15, and the crushing stone of Daniel 2:34-35;44-45.

His comment on Psalm 118:22, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone… whoever falls on that stone will be broken, but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder,” is reminiscent of the midrash Esther 3:6 Rabbah – “Should the stone fall on the crock, woe to the crock. Should the crock fall on the stone, woe to the crock.”

His use of Psalm 118 is significant to us, knowing as we do that soon after this sermon, Christ will enter Jerusalem as a mounted King, hailed with messianic hosanna verses from this psalm – and then he will be rejected by his people.

Not only as the Master and Source of scripture, but as a man who has read, sung, and obeyed it all his life, Christ sees scriptural connections and themes that the scribal tradition still had not perceived after a thousand years of study. One can begin to sympathize with the elders and scribes in the temple who found themselves discussing the deep things of God for hours with a thirteen-year-old boy and walked away saying, “Never man spake like this!”

Fr Silouan Thompson

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