Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.
Nothing will satisfy the Holy Spirit of God other than complete surrender to Christ Jesus – and our complete surrender will always render us fruitful for Him.
If He is within us, if we are in Him, then His nature will become ours, and we will bear fruit – eternal fruit that bears the mark of the Creator. This is the consistent message of the New Testament, and especially is this truth found in John 15:5, “If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” The second half John 15:5 – that we can do nothing apart from Christ – not only is the logical outworking of the Spirit-filled life. It is also the prophetic voice of old, testifying the truth to the second part of the Matthew passage above.
The “stone” Christ spoke of was Himself, as Matthew 21:42 plainly reveals. Christ quoted Psalm 118:22-23, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone” – a passage that refers to Him. There is no working around Christ in our message or in our walk. He must be first and everything else must point to Him. (See also 1 Peter 2:4-10.)
What the Spirit inspired Matthew to write is a message for the whole world, but in particular his gospel spoke to the Jewish mind. These words of Christ of being broken to pieces would remind his hearers of many Old Testament passages, such as Isaiah 8:12-15 about the false prophets, “Many of them will stumble; they will fall and be broken…” Or Daniel 2:35 that spoke of the pagan kingdoms that lift their wills against God and against His Christ being ground to powder “Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.”
Christ described two separate negative responses to Him – one that falls or stumbles on Him, that results in being broken to pieces. This first describes not eternal condemnation, but the “stumbling stone” effect of the gospel among many Jews such as Saul who became Paul. He stumbled at first, and had to be broken to pieces that Christ could mend him and heal him and make whole and useful. This is a fact for all of us, even if we are raised in Christian families, that we must be broken by God to be of use to Him. We have all in some way or another stumbled on the Christ and have had to have Him mend us and complete us. This represents the crucified life that is central to the teachings of the Christian life in the New Testament (Luke 9:23-24 and John 12:23-26).
But for others whose hearts are stubborn, who never bow to the authority of Christ, they will be ultimately crushed in judgment, when they have rejected the righteousness that Christ alone can give to cover their sinfulness.
For you and I the application is simple. God is creating a new people in the gospel of Christ, a new “ethnos,” and in Him we find our truest identity. A new brotherhood, family, nation, or kingdom is being formed from among the people of the world. Christ must come first and He must be central. We produce this fruit as we remain or abide in Him and let Him abide or remain in us. He changes our hearts, and thereby changes our directions and our actions. Honor Him first and foremost, and He will use and honor you.