Matthew 24:1-2 As Jesus was leaving the Temple grounds, his disciples pointed out to him the various Temple buildings. (2) But he responded, “Do you see all these buildings? I tell you the truth, they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!”
Jesus had taught in the temple all day. During that time no one thought of the fact they had not eaten since the early morning. Once Jesus had finished teaching the disciples realized they had not eaten all day, their minds were drawn back to the early morning walk with Jesus. They remembered how the day began with Jesus examining a fig tree. It didn’t find any figs, so He cursed the tree, which withered before their eyes.
The disciples could now understand the spiritual illustration. The fig tree represented the religious teachers in the temple who could not provide the spiritual food Jesus offered. The disciples also reviewed the lessons Jesus taught that day, and how each showed how the traditions and doctrine they learned from the religious leaders must also wither and die.
As Jesus made His way to the gate, James drew close to Him, along with a number of others. Some of the disciples noticed how Jesus had looked beyond them to the temple walls and structure. They did not want to address the spiritual lessons Jesus just taught while their minds were still attempting to sort out the details. They did not want to appear ignorant, or display their lack of understanding in front of the others. Instead they engaged in a conversation to display their knowledge of a subject they thought they understood.
As Jesus passed through the courtyard and out of the gate, his disciples began pointing out the features they had been taught by the religious leaders. They pointed out the shape and form of the alter, the height and width of the court, the splendor of the lavers, craftsmanship of the doors, and the size and weight of each stone. They explained how each stone was fashioned and stacked one upon another. Everything centered around the achievements of man and his glory. They even mentioned how generous Herod was in funding the project.
This greatly disturbed Jesus. He thought He was finally getting through to them, but it seemed their minds would only open to Heaven for a moment before Satan was able to drag them back to earth. Jesus responded, “Do you see all these buildings? I tell you the truth, they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!”
This made James think of a lesson Jesus had taught a few just a few hours ago. “Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures? ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. This is the LORD’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.” This made James see the spiritual connection between the stones and the priests. If Jesus, the Son of God was the cornerstone, did the other stones represent people? James thought about this for a moment. He searched for another connection between the two parables. It seemed there was a connection between the stone that was rejected, and the stones which were to be torn down. The stone that was rejected must represent Jesus. The stones that will be torn down must be the religious leaders.
James went over the two parables one more time. The stone that was reject became a cornerstone. Was that for a new building, a new temple? Was Jesus going to build a new temple to replace Herod’s?
After a moment James remembered how Jesus had finished the parable of the rejected cornerstone. “I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce the proper fruit. Anyone who stumbles over that stone will be broken to pieces, and it will crush anyone it falls on.”
James was beginning to understand the spiritual symbols Jesus taught, but he did not understand their application. Would James dare ask Jesus for an explanation in front of the other disciples?