It is really something to watch true professional stone masons in action. These guys are fast in their work. As they build a wall, or a stone facing on a building, they take a stone from the pile, look it over to see where it would fit in any of the open spaces, and stick it in place. They then move on to the next stone. Every so often they take their hammer and give a chip here or there to shape up the stone and make it fit in certain places, but rarely do they cast a stone aside. They are so efficient in their work; they can spot weakness in a stone with one glance. They know a defective stone almost instinctively.
In the first century, during Jesus time, stone was the main building material. The cornerstone was the first stone to be laid in construction. It became the foundation upon which all the other stones were set. The cornerstone had to be the perfect stone and set perfectly because if it was off, even a little bit, the whole building was off. Once the cornerstone was set they could then build out from that point. There have been many cornerstones found in archeological digs in the Middle East; one was measured at 69 feet by 12 feet by 13 feet. These stones were very important in Ancient architecture. The Old and New Testaments speak of these important building stones and they are usually references to Messiah.
Peter uses this same thought in his first letter. Today we will discuss Jesus as the Chief Cornerstone and how, as Christians, we participate in the Temple and priesthood.
READ SCRIPTURE- This is the Word of God
Point 1: We are Living StonesA. Christ is the Cornerstone. He is the Life-Giving Stone.
a. All other stones are aligned by the Cornerstone.
b. We are the living stones that are aligned by Christ Jesus.
c. Jesus is a strong foundation. (A tested stone)
d. He is right. (Must be to build)
B. We are being built together.
a. To be a spiritual house for God to dwell.
b. Stones used for building must be shaped and formed, ready for construction use. Therefore, God doesn’t simply choose random, raw, natural rocks.
c. God has taken those who believe in His Son and molded us into the living stones that He needs for this building project.
C. The Spiritual House Continues to be Built.
a. As more come to belief in Christ, Jesus echoes the statement He said to Peter- “Upon this rock, I will build my church.”
b. The fact that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God” is the Stone upon which everything is built.
D. Reference: Ephesians 2:19-22
“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
E. We are being built into a Temple of the Living God.
a. For the Hebrews, the Temple was a security blank
aa. As long as the Temple was standing, they felt safe.
bb. They felt that the Temple was firm and unmovable.
b. As the church, we are the Living Temple. We should feel safe and unmovable.
c. The Jerusalem Temple was built upon a conquerable foundation.
The Living Temple (which is the church) is built upon Christ Jesus.
And so we know that God is using us for a special building project. We are being built together for God’s Spirit to dwell among us. We know that Jesus is the Cornerstone. He is the beginning and the most essential part of this building. Let’s talk about Jesus as the Cornerstone for just a few minutes.
Point 2: Jesus is the Living Stone (Chief Cornerstone)**As the Cornerstone, Jesus has determined the design and details of the building.
A. Some trust Christ
a. The Lord has placed a tested Cornerstone in Zion, for a sure foundation.
b. To those who believe, He is a precious stone.
B. Others Reject Christ
a. As a result- They stumble and Fall.
b. Reference- Hosea 14:9
“Who is wise? Let him understand these things. Who is prudent? Let him know them. For the ways of the LORD are right; The righteous walk in them, But transgressors stumble in them.”
c. Many have even become hostile towards the Gospel.
C. God has chosen Him.
a. Many have rejected Christ, but God has exalted Him.
b. Unbelievers have said Christ is useless and undesirable.
c. God says Christ is a Precious Living Stone.
D. This may be a subtle attack on the dead stone idols once worshipped by these readers.
E. In this text, Peter declares that Jesus is greater than:
1. Traditions of the Forefathers
2. Temple in Jerusalem
3. Traditions of the Pagans.
We see that Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone. He is the Living Stone and we also are living stones being built into a spiritual house for God’s Spirit to dwell. Peter now changes his illustration from a Spiritual Temple being built to a Priesthood being assembled.
Point 3: Priesthood- conduct worship
A. OT references of what God desires:
1. Reference- Hosea 6:6 “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice,
And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”
2. Reference- Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?”
B. God doesn’t want physical sacrifice, but spiritual sacrifices:
1. Bodies offered to God as living sacrifices (Rom. 12)
2. Money or material goods (Ph. 4, Heb. 13)
3. Sacrifice of praise (Heb. 13)
4. Sacrifices of doing good (Heb. 13:16)
C. These are the things acceptable to God.
We are part of a building project. Jesus is the Living Stone who has given life to believers and enabled us to be living stones who support one another, are joined to one another, and are bearing each others weight. Not only are we a spiritual house, but also a spiritual priesthood.
God is the Master Mason that is building us together to form a spiritual house. He first laid the Chief Cornerstone in Zion and then has taken those who believe that Jesus is Christ the Son of God (including us) and shaped us into living stones, ready to be built into that spiritual house. God laid the foundation of our faith, which is the only way to salvation (Jesus Christ).
Today, let us wrestle with these things. Are we letting God shape us into living stones? Are we looking to the Chief Cornerstone to make sure that we are in line? Are we offering the spiritual sacrifices that God desires?