Follow Me: The Now-Glorious Stone Once Rejected

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The Now-Glorious Stone Once Rejected

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It won’t be long until the world beholds the coronation of Charles III as monarch of the United Kingdom. King Charles has known since he was a lad that his destiny would bring him to this moment. His is a bloodline of kings that weaves far back into the ancient past. There will be no surprise when a crown is lowered on his head accompanied by global recognition and affirmation.

But Scripture tells a story about another royal figure who went largely unrecognized in His role by those with whom He came into contact. Hundreds of years before His coming He was heralded as “the stone which the builders rejected” that would yet “become the chief cornerstone” by “the Lord’s doing” (Psalms 118:22-23 Psalms 118:22-23 [22] The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. [23] This is the LORD's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
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; quoted in Matthew 21:42 Matthew 21:42Jesus said to them, Did you never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?
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This humanly rejected individual is the same One who invites us with the words “Follow Me” (Matthew 10:38 Matthew 10:38And he that takes not his cross, and follows after me, is not worthy of me.
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). In addition, as we respond to God’s calling and will, we always need reminding that God’s thoughts and ways are far above our natural human ways (Isaiah 55:8 Isaiah 55:8For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, said the LORD.
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“We did not esteem Him”

The prophet Isaiah created a portrait of this rejected stone as One who was “despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him” (Isaiah 53:3-4 Isaiah 53:3-4 [3] He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. [4] Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
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). His ministry would be ridiculed by demeaning statements like, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46 John 1:46And Nathanael said to him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip said to him, Come and see.
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Nonetheless, He was never deterred from the mission for which He was born. He spoke of good news—that the Kingdom of God is at hand, saying we must repent and believe the gospel to be part of that Kingdom (Mark 1:14-15 Mark 1:14-15 [14] Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, [15] And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel.
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). His arrival with this announcement was a staggering interruption in human history. Nothing would ever be the same! Something incredible was now in motion, and it was time for people to get a mind and heart fit for this Kingdom!

His inaugural message spoke of the reign of God, His sovereignty over mind, heart and will in human lives and ultimately over the entire earth. He urged hearers, “Come to Me” and “Follow Me,” unwavering in His confidence in the love of His Heavenly Father not only for Himself but for those who would heed His invitation.

“Are You a King then?”

In His final days on earth the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, having heard claims about statements He’d made, asked Him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” (John 18:33 John 18:33Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said to him, Are you the King of the Jews?
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). He responded that His Kingdom was not of this present world (verse 36). This perplexed the Roman, so he doubled down by again asking, “Are You a king then?” The Nazarene responded: “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth” (verse 37).  

Both the pagan Roman world and His own countrymen rejected the Man from Galilee. He who had never harmed another human being but instead nurtured people, healed them and in some cases resurrected them to life, would have His own existence snuffed out as “the stone which the builders rejected.”

As Dorothy Sayers would share in her 1938 essay “The Greatest Drama Ever Staged,” this Man “had ‘a daily beauty in his life that made us ugly,’ and officialdom felt that the established order of things would be more secure without Him. So they did away with God in the name of peace and quietness.”

What were His words and deeds that would cause such rejection?

•  He had proclaimed that we are to not only “love your neighbor,” but to “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:43 Matthew 5:43You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.
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• He had proclaimed just before this, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God” (Matthew 5:9 Matthew 5:9Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
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• He proclaimed: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (Matthew 7:1-2 Matthew 7:1-2 [1] Judge not, that you be not judged. [2] For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again.
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• He also proclaimed, “Whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:27-28 Matthew 20:27-28 [27] And whoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: [28] Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
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For such teachings, and urging His followers to do the same, He was tortured. This included a crown of thorns being jammed down onto His skull in mockery. And then He was brutally crucified, being nailed alive to a beam of wood (Matthew 27:27-31 Matthew 27:27-31 [27] Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered to him the whole band of soldiers. [28] And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. [29] And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it on his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! [30] And they spit on him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. [31] And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.
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But was this the end of the story?

Every knee shall bow to Him

The Supreme Court of Heaven, whose Chief Justice is God the Father, powerfully overruled the lower courts and judges of earth. He raised Jesus from the dead and “has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow . . . and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11 Philippians 2:9-11 [9] Why God also has highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: [10] That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; [11] And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
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This “rejected stone” appears in the prophetic dream of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2, which Daniel interpreted, saying: “And in the days of these kings [a final group of 10 kings arising out of the succession of gentile empires] the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold—the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure” (verses 44-45).

It is this same now-exalted One—the Glorious Stone formerly rejected—who said on the night before He died to those who heed the call of “Follow Me” that “I go to prepare a place for you . . . [and] I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3 John 14:2-3 [2] In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. [3] And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
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Scripture clearly states that He is coming back to earth. He will stand on the Mount of Olives just outside Jerusalem, returning to the spot from where He ascended (Zechariah 14:3-4 Zechariah 14:3-4 [3] Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. [4] And his feet shall stand in that day on the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall split in the middle thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
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; Acts 1:10-12 Acts 1:10-12 [10] And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; [11] Which also said, You men of Galilee, why stand you gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen him go into heaven. [12] Then returned they to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey.
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). Jesus Christ is not going to be handing out clouds, harps and sheet music for heavenly choral groups as rewards to His faithful followers, but He is going to establish a Kingdom and will grant them everlasting dominion in it (Daniel 7:27 Daniel 7:27And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
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). Faithful disciples down through the ages who have accepted His call to live as He lived will become kings and priests to God and “shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:10 Revelation 5:10And have made us to our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
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; 20:4-6).

And like our Savior and Lord of our life who led the way before us, before we bear a crown we, too, must bear a cross. As Jesus stated: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let Him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25 Matthew 16:24-25 [24] Then said Jesus to his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. [25] For whoever will save his life shall lose it: and whoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
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Until next time, let us pray, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth”—in our lives now—“as it is in heaven.”