In a poetic way the ancient stones of Israel bring history alive. But they are not living. They don’t have lungs which bring in and send out air. They don’t have a heart which pumps blood through them. So they will never be more than a mass of minerals shaped by the elements and weather or carved by the hand of man. Scripture however claims that there is a Living Stone (1 Pet. 2:4) and as such Jesus is so much more than the earthly word picture the Scriptures borrow to describe Him (1 Pet. 2:5-6).
To fully understand this imagery, one must understand a little about construction. Peter quotes the prophet Isaiah who brings this message from the Lord, “Behold I lay in Zion a cornerstone” (Is. 28:16). The cornerstone (pinnah in the Hebrew) was the key stone in a structure. It was the place where various surfaces or lines met. Cornerstones were found in houses (Job 1:19), walls (Neh. 3:24), altars (Ex. 27:2), or at the intersection of two streets (Prov. 7:8). In regards to buildings, it could be a stone in the corner of a building upon which the whole structure was balanced or it could be the capstone in an arch which held all the bricks of the arch in place. In Scripture this image was always associated with the Messiah. Psalm 118:22 is the most quoted passage in the New Testament concerning this (Mt. 2:42; Mk. 12:10; Lk. 20:17; Ac. 4:11; 1 Pet. 2:7).
A mason who is building something will choose the cornerstone very carefully. It bears the responsibility of holding everything else in place. It has to be extremely solid and strong enough to bear the weight of the rest of the building for a long time. Therefore its selection is a deliberate and meticulous process. Peter writes that like a mason, God the Father has carefully selected His Cornerstone (v.6). He is a choice and precious stone. The word “choice” (eklektos) involves “thoughtful and deliberate consideration”. The word “precious” signifies something that is honored or highly regarded (Lk. 7:2; 14:8; Phil. 2:29), has stood the test of time in its value and is costly or precious. Since I’ve married into a family of masons I’ve heard many a complaint over the years on the poor quality of building materials. That is not the case with Jesus. His value is way beyond the earthly kind. Surprisingly not all recognize or accept this (v. 4).
Jesus as the Living Stone is the foundation of a building and we as the stones placed around Him are being built into a “spiritual” house. This adjective is always used to signify something that is the work of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 7:14; 15:27; 1 Cor. 2:13; Eph. 1:3; 5:9; Col. 1:9; 3:16). One would think that this spiritual building would be one of majestic beauty like a cathedral or awesome grandeur like the Temple, but it is a humble oikos (oy-koss); a house. While most of the time this word is used for a dwelling where a family, lives, in this passage it is used to symbolize the household or family of God (1 Tim. 3:15; Heb. 3:6; 10:21; 1 Pet. 2:5, 17). What makes us family? It is simply that we believe in Jesus (Jn. 1:9-13; 1 Pet. 2:7). If a person does not believe it is akin to not being a part of the family (1 Pet. 2:7-8).
What is the result of coming to be a part of this spiritual building, in believing in Jesus as Peter states in 1 Pet. 2:4? The person who comes in faith “will never be disappointed” (v.6). This idea is stated numerous times in Scripture (Rom. 5:5; 9:33; 10:11; 1 Pet. 2:6). Placing our faith in Jesus will never result in a loss, in shame, or in frustration because we were let down. You can join a club and be disappointed in its services. You can join an organization and be disappointed with its leadership. You can even join a team and never quite feel that you are a part of the game. But the center of God’s Family is Jesus and He does not disappoint. He builds with living stones (Eph. 2:10; 1 Pet. 2:4-5) which are designed to bring Him the recognition He is due! That's me and you! So, how about it? Are you a living stone who is doing your part?
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
Week of 5/22/2016