Meditations in 1 Peter : 20 : The Living Stone
1 Pet 2:4 As you come to him, the living Stone–rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him
Stone is an amazing building material; it is a natural material. In one of the earlier phases of my life I had a lot to do with the construction industry and I have had cause to look at various sorts of stone that is used for both structural and aesthetic uses. I have seen stone cleaned so that the original wonder has been restored and brought out from under decades of grime. I have seen marbles and granites polished up like glass. I have seen stone shaped into beautiful patterns or pictures. Stone is perhaps one of our oldest building materials (after wood) and certainly one that lasts. Stone has been used to build castles and cathedrals as well as lowly homes and not so lowly homes.
Peter is now going to use the analogy of stone for both Jesus and for us. Why does he do that? He does it because as we shall soon see there are a number of prophetic Scriptures that refer to Jesus, using the analogy of stone. But this analogy of stone isn’t really about stone as such, but about a specific stone or a stone that has been chosen for a specific use – a cornerstone or capstone. Now both of those uses are very specific uses with very specific meanings.
A cornerstone was the first stone that may even have been a foundation stone, but was the stone from which the rest of the building was set out. Because of its shape and position, the line of the walls and the verticality of the walls were judged or set out in line with this one first stone. Jesus is thus the baseline from which the rest of the church is designed. He is its starting point and he is the one against whom everything about us is checked. We are to be exactly in line with him. We are not to go off doing our own thing with our own nature or own characteristics but we are to do everything in line with him and take on his nature and his characteristics. Everything in the church should flow from him. I wonder how real that is?
But then there was a capstone which tended to be the final stone used in an arch that fitted at the top of the arch which held it in position. Jesus is thus our security, the one who holds us in position in the building called the church. It is also the topmost stone of a structure, and so Jesus is to be the one to whom the rest of us look up to, exalted above the rest – the Lord.
The apostle Paul wrote, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Eph 2:19-22) We’ll no doubt come back to that again in the future but for the moment let’s simply note that here Paul refers to the church as God’s household, a building, a temple and a dwelling in which God lives, with Jesus being its chief cornerstone.
But Peter refers to Jesus as a “living stone” and so this isn’t a static or inanimate role that Jesus has, he is conveying life to the building, he is interacting with the building and he ensures that we, the other stones (as we shall see in the next meditation) also have and convey life. This stone, as we shall see was “rejected by men”. The cause of his death was the rejection by the Jewish authorities and the Jewish people, and the Roman authorities (representing the Gentile world). They didn’t like who he was, what he was and what he said and so they rejected him and killed him. Yet he was the Anointed One, the One “chosen by God”. We may not have been able to see it but that is the truth. The Father chose the Son to perform the task of revealing Him and redeeming the world.
But there is yet a further description: “precious to him.” J.R.R.Tolkien stamped this word in our consciousness with his character Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, who spoke of the ring as ‘his precious’. Precious means ‘of great value, held very dearly, very special to us’. Jesus is very dear to the Father and that awareness should make us wonder even more at the Father’s love for us that He should give the Son for us: “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.” (Jn 3:16) How incredible that God should feel so strongly for His Son and yet be willing to sacrifice him at the hands of foolish and sinful mankind, to save that same mankind!!!
Thus from this verse we see that Jesus is the one from whom the whole building of the church is built, and the one who holds it together, the one who is Lord over it. We rejected him when God had chosen him. He was and is very precious to the Father which makes the wonder of their love for us even more incredible. Hold on to these things. Think on them, meditate on them, and rejoice in them.