“The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (Psalm 118:22, NIV).
Perhaps the first Scripture passage that comes to mind in thinking about prophecies concerning the coming Messiah is the Suffering Servant passage in Isaiah 53. However, other key texts also portray Jesus’ rejection by the nation of Israel. That Jesus would divide Israel’s response to Him—either acceptance or rejection—is noted in Luke 2:34. Simeon, as he holds the baby Jesus, says, “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against.” This verse alludes to Isaiah 8:14–15.
Psalm 118 is another important text that refers to the rejection of Jesus. In Luke 13:35, Jesus expresses the hope that Israel will turn back from her rejection of the Messiah. He declares Israel’s house desolate until she says, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” This remark comes from Psalm 118:26.
This hope is repeated as the disciples praise Jesus with these words when He enters Jerusalem (Luke 19:38). Yet His entry only meets with rejection, so that Luke 13:35 is not fulfilled by the claims of these disciples, because the people reject their Messiah (Luke 19:41–44). Jesus comes in God’s name, but that does not mean all people get it. These verses remind us that God knew that Jesus would be a source of a division in humanity.
Jesus also quotes verse 22 from Psalm 118 in the parable of the wicked tenants (Luke 20:9–19) saying, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (Luke 20:17). This text highlights two ideas at once. First, many will reject Jesus. Second, God will vindicate Him. This vindication is God’s vote in the discussion about who Jesus is. He is the cornerstone of God’s salvation program. Rejection by many is not Jesus’ legacy—His vindication by God is. This is always worth pondering during the Christmas season.