Accompanying John MacArthur sermon: The Rejected Cornerstone
Accompanying David Legge sermon: Question Time
Accompanying Robert Rayburn sermon: Unbelief
Why was Jesus rejected?
A god who does nothing and demands nothing, a god whom we can control with relatively modest investments of time and money, a god who leaves us be, who permits us to remain who and what we are: that is the god people are searching for. That is the God these clerics and churchmen were happy to serve. The living God, the God who actually exists, the God to whom we owe our lives, the moral God who made us moral creatures, who gave us a conscience, who make us live in a moral world, and who promises to hold us accountable; that God men and women do not seek. The God who enters the world to encounter us, the God who appeared as a man in Jesus Christ, who makes demands, who issues a summons, who requires that we understand our existence in reference to him; that God is not what people seek. The Bible says as much. In this sense “there is no one who seeks after God,” a text from Psalm 10 that Paul quotes in Romans 3.
“In his pride the wicked does not seek [the Lord]; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.”
That is what the Lord is saying here in his parable describing the tenants who planned to kill the son of the owner of the vineyard so that they could have the vineyard for themselves. The people did not reject Jesus, nor did the religious leadership, because he failed to prove himself to them....There is evidence aplenty....
There is the evidence of creation itself...We know too much about the universe to believe it came into being by chance or accidentally. There is the evidence of man’s nature, his consciousness and self-awareness, his personality, his moral nature, his conscience, his capacity to appreciate goodness and beauty, his concept of time, the longings of his heart; there is the historical and moral authority of Jesus Christ, the historical verifiability of the Bible, there is the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, the evidence of the Christian life, and on and on.
But all of this has a flip side. There is a summons contained in all of this evidence. It is a summons to submission to the living God, the Maker of heaven and earth. It is a summons to bow the knee and to worship and obey the one who has given you life. It is a summons to acknowledge that his will must become the norm of your life. And it is finally a summons to acknowledge that you and I have lived constantly and profoundly and comprehensively in ways that are unworthy of this God and of the nature he gave me, that I must confess myself a sinner, that I must seek forgiveness in that way that God himself has provided for it, and that I must embrace a new life of obedience and service in gratitude for his gifts to me.
There is the rub. There is the reason for unbelief. To believe, really to believe, is to bow, to confess, and to obey. Pride will not bow, nor will it confess, nor will it obey. It will not no matter the cost. That is why men and women do not believe. It is not for want of evidence. It is not an act of courage on their part. It is unwillingness to surrender themselves; it is rebellion, jealousy, and defiance. The same rebellion and jealousy and defiance we Christians still find so much of in our own hearts and minds. It is not difficult for us to understand the bias that accounts for unbelief. We have so much of that same anti-God bias remaining inside us! It is the desire to be one’s own God, which both explains unbelief and guarantees that it will never succeed. Man is not God; he makes, in fact, a very poor, a pathetic imitation of God. And he invariably disappoints those who worship him as God, including himself.
Worse still, denying God does not alter the fact of God’s existence or his absolute rule over this world and the life of human beings in this world. The Sanhedrin managed to kill Jesus and by so doing they only served unwittingly to assist in the salvation of the world, to exalt Jesus to the highest place in heaven and on earth, and to secure their own judgment on the last day. They did not manage to keep him dead or to stamp out the movement that was growing around him. In fact, by their hateful acts they ignited that movement and sent it on its course of conquest throughout the world. They had a bias against Jesus deep in their hearts. They didn’t want him to be their Lord. All men have such a bias. It is why it is such an extraordinary thing to believe in him. It means you must have changed your heart and bent your will. Think of it – God changed you! Or can change you, and will if you ask him.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Mark 12:13-17