March 8 - 1 Peter 2:4-8

Saturday, March 8, 2014

1 Peter 2:4-8 – The Living Stone

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house  to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: 

         “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”  

Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, 

         “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”  


         “A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.”  

They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

This passage is layered with many different meanings, all of which focus on the fact that we are part of a living kingdom and while we may face persecution or any other sort of difficulty living out our lives as followers of Jesus, He is the foundation of our faith and our life.

There are two groups of people described in the passage. There are the builders who reject the stone and there are those who are being built on the foundation of that cornerstone. Two different approaches to using the Living Stone … one which ends up in people stumbling and the other which grow into the building which relies on the Living Stone for its foundation.

Peter is also describing the process of building a temple.  The temple was the most important building to the Jews and many gentile Christians would be familiar with pagan temples erected to various gods and goddesses throughout the region.  Those temples were made out of stone - stone that could be destroyed and was susceptible to destruction.

With the death of Christ, God no longer communicated with his people from within the Temple, but took up residence in the hearts of men ... temples that were made of 'living' stone. We are that temple.  We are a spiritual house. The sacrifices of the Old Testament were no longer needed, priests were no longer needed ... we are the holy priesthood, we offer sacrifices through Jesus Christ.

In Matthew 16:18, Jesus tells Peter that he is the rock upon which His church will be built.  Peter, however, deflects this image back on to Jesus here.  Jesus is the foundation of the church.  Paul, in Ephesians 2:19-22, describes this same structure.  The holy temple is all of us, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone.  And in this temple, God will dwell.

The first chapter of this letter described a process that would draw us toward holiness. Peter is pointing out our responsibility - not from a worldly perspective, but from God's perspective.  God wants to dwell within us as He did among the Israelites in their Tabernacle and later, in their Temple.

As God's dwelling place … as living stones in the temple that Jesus is building … we are called to holiness.

A call to holiness. A call to be in the presence of the Most High God.