Cornerstone (1 Peter 2:4-8)
Your name usually gives you an interest in others who have the same name. Evidently when Jesus gave Peter the name "Rock," Peter came to be interested in every rock in the Bible! In this magnificent passage Peter examines all that God says about stones. He finds that Christ is the Cornerstone, you are a living stone, but for some He is a stumbling stone.
Jesus Is the Cornerstone
Today a cornerstone is merely decorative. In biblical times such a stone was structurally significant. It bound the building together. The Old Testament prophet foresaw God's coming Cornerstone (Isa. 28:16). Jesus openly identified Himself as that Stone (Matt. 21:42). In what way is Jesus the Cornerstone of the church?
He is a living stone. These words are a violent contradiction, direct opposites in our experience. Yet they express a truth that can be expressed in no other way. In Christ there is the fixedness of a stone yet the vitality of life itself. Anytime God touches a stone that stone takes on new life.
He is a chosen stone. Twice the text emphasizes that Christ is the man of God's own choice. After testing Him, mere men rejected him. But God has already chosen Him and that choice stands. He chose Him in eternity and in time. He chose Him at Bethlehem, Jordan, transfiguration, and resurrection. What man emphatically rejected, God eternally chose.
He is an honored stone. A Jewish legend tells of the rock chosen for the cornerstone of the temple having been lost and neglected. Finally it was rediscovered and elevated to its place of significance. God has given to the Cornerstone His place of preeminence and man shall not take it away.
Christians Are the Living Stones
Christians are like their Lord. As He is alive, so are they. Peter must have remembered that occasion when he received his name (Matt. 16:18). Christ promised to build His church upon the Great Confession. Men such as Peter would become the living stones built upon that great Rock. Here Peter imagines those stones mysteriously attracted to that great Cornerstone. One by one they come from all ages and places to take their place upon the Rock. Their contact with the living foundation makes them living stones. As such they form a new temple with a living sacrifice.
Christians are a spiritual temple. Jesus predicted that He would raise up a new temple (John 2:19). The new temple is not local or material like that of Solomon, but universal and spiritual. God now literally dwells in the community of His people. We are collectively the house of God. It is a spiritual house because the Holy Spirit brought it into existence and pervades its life.
Christians are a holy priesthood. Suddenly the one image dissolves into a new image. Christians are not only stones in the wall, they are also priests serving within those walls. In the old order and among pagans, priests were a separate caste—set apart like the sons of Aaron. In contrast, all those in the living temple are priests with direct access to the God whom they serve.
Christians bring spiritual sacrifices. This completes the picture. Every temple with priests must have sacrifices. In the old order there were material, animal, and vegetable sacrifices. In the new temple of living stones where every person is a priest, the sacrifices are different. They are the sacrifices of praise and worship (Heb. 13). Indeed, before a man brings any other sacrifice he brings himself as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1-2). Do not miss the clear fact that Peter is speaking of what Christians are collectively. None of this is done alone. I am part of the temple because my life is cemented to yours in the church. I am part of a body of priests who come together to God. There are no freelance Christians according to this word. We are alive in Christ together.
For Some Christ Is a Stumbling Stone
He is either your Cornerstone or your Stumbling Stone. Some men look at God's Cornerstone as an object that blocks their path. They have no desire to build on Him. They want to be rid of Him. They are like men rushing upon a great fixed stone. They cannot dislodge the stone. They only break themselves over the stone.
How do people stumble over Christ? We stumble over Christ because we actively and deliberately refuse to obey the truth about Him. This means more than passive disbelief. The test suggests those who examine Him and then reject Him. There is no neutrality. Sometimes to refuse to make a decision is to make a decision.
Why do people stumble over Christ? God has sovereignly ordained that those who disbelieve Christ will stumble. It is no mere accident that lives crash when Christ is rejected. An invisible hand is operative in the process. Ultimately, we do not reject Christ. God rejects those who fail to believe in His Son. He will have the last word.
Are you building on the Cornerstone or falling over the stumbling stone?