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” (Psalm 118:22-23; quoted in Matthew 21:42).
This humanly rejected individual is the same One who invites us with the words “Follow Me” (Matthew 10:38). 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).
“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). His ministry would be ridiculed by demeaning statements like, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).
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). 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). 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).
• He had proclaimed just before this, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).
• 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).
• 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).
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).
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).
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).
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; Acts 1:10-12). 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). 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; 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).
Until next time, let us pray, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth”—in our lives now—“as it is in heaven.”