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.
It was a cold and rainy day, in fact, let’s call it “putrid.” School was over, basketball practice was over, and I decided to stop by the building site of our future home on the way back to our apartment in Normal, to see if any progress had been made on such a yucky day.
Disclaimer: in 1977, I knew very little about house construction. Very little. Too little. I was at the mercy of those who did know something and both Sue and I were vulnerable in the extreme to schemes and empty promises. In retrospect, I believe we were in the process of being taken advantage of when my uncle intervened and took over the project, taking it away from a crew which had already taken the “five finger discount” on some of our fine, cedar building materials. But, before this happened, there was this putrid day, not fit out for man nor beast. Yet, I decided to stop by…
All I could see from the road through the dim light of waning day was the “essence” of a rectangle dug in the otherwise vacant yard. Yet, there was a car parked there. That car belonged to my friend, Rob, yet I couldn’t see him from the road. I pulled up and walked over to the “pit.” There, in wet hooded sweatshirt and wet pants wearing wet boots and wet gloves was a very wet Rob Cody. Oh, yes, he held a wet shovel. This all seems rather sing-songy as I write it now, but then it seemed cold and wet.
Rob was the sole member of the “hired” crew working that day; I’m pretty sure it was too yucky out for the other guys to “soil themselves,” (do with that phrase what you will) but Rob was hourly, needed the work, and the work had to be done, so Rob… have at it. Rob was digging footings all the way around the exterior of what would become the basement wall. This was a muddy, yucky and difficult task. Our ground was absolute “Carlock clay,” as it is dubbed locally. This is not a term of endearment and Rob was not in an endearing mood. What’s more, this was my future house he was catching a cold for, so I felt bad for him.
Rob had been a roommate and dear friend of mine in college. I had been in his wedding. We were buds. And as I watched him work so hard – for us, really – I was humbled. He has always been a remarkable worker. He was later to become an employee of our company (and still works there) when he and I were having dinner with his parents in Arizona. I remember telling them, “I want to give you folks a serious compliment: you taught Rob how to work really hard and really well. Thank you.” I meant it. Still do.
On the day in question, he was just about done digging those footings. I sort of knew what he was doing, but I didn’t know more than I knew and certainly couldn’t have offered any meaningful advice. Actually, he completed the task while I stayed and it got dark. Again, I felt bad for him and I certainly couldn’t appreciate at that moment that the work he had carefully completed would still be serving us well 39 years down the road. In some ways, his digging these footings was “the cornerstone” the work that had to be done on that basement. Next day, gravel was poured into the footings he had dug over draining pipes, cement was poured over that and the real construction of cement blocks and wood in its various forms (mostly cedar) began. We have lived in that house for nearly 39 years.
In both the Old and New Testaments Jesus is called “the cornerstone” of the faith. For true believers there is no doubt about this. Today’s Scripture, taken from an event that occurred on Tuesday of Holy Week, even has Him making this very claim as He confronts His detractors. So, here is my question: if Jesus’ claims to be the very Basis and Essence of true faith were true then, how can they be any less true now? They can’t. His assertions are as timeless as His Eternal Being. He is teaching this very thing in today’s story. And, as He says, His story will be the Kingdom of God to those who receive Him in all His wonder, but will be taken away from those trying to dismiss or diminish Him. This has always been one of the main issues of the faith: is Jesus the Eternal God in human flesh, or is He not? I trust that we have all declared Him to be the Cornerstone of our faith.
Clive says: “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. … Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.”
from Mere Christianity