Summary: When life is difficult, think about the amazing blessings that are yours because of Christ and thank Him.
Remember: The original readers of 1 Peter were facing persecution.
The Big Idea: When life is difficult, THINK about the amazing blessings that are yours because of Christ and THANK Him.
1. There is nothing more important that our RESPONSE to Jesus.
“As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him” (v. 4).
The “living Stone” = JESUS CHRIST.
Peter quotes three Old Testament “stone” prophecies and applies them to Christ:
• “So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed” (Isaiah 28:16; quoted in v. 6).
• “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone” (Psalm 118:22; quoted in v. 7).
• “And he will be a sanctuary; but for both houses of Israel he will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall” (Isaiah 8:14a; quoted in v. 8).
Jesus is described as the “cornerstone.” In ancient times, a cornerstone was the first stone set in the construction of a building. It was extremely important since all the other stones were set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire building. (Today, a cornerstone is a ceremonial stone set in a prominent location on the outside of a building, with an inscription indicating the construction date, etc.)
ILLUSTRATION: Before I became a pastor, I worked for a construction company that built houses. I did a lot of work on foundations. Once I asked my boss if I could be in charge of laying the foundation, but he wisely said no. Good foundations are essential.
The foundation of the church is Jesus Christ. Peter (then known as Simon) was once asked by Jesus, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15). Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 16). And Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter [rock], and on this rock [faith in Christ] I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (vv. 17-18).
God wants us to make Jesus the foundation of our lives.
a. We can ACCEPT Christ and enjoy the blessings of God.
“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” (vv. 6-7a).
“Will never be put to shame” is a deliberate understatement. It could be expressed by “will find great glory.”
b. We can REJECT Christ and miss out on the blessings of God.
But to those who do not believe, ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,’ and, ‘A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.’ They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for” (vv. 7b-8).
To believers, Jesus is the cornerstone; but to the world, He is a stumbling stone.
What about the phrase “Which is also what they were destined for”?
• This text leaves open the possibility of repentance and saving faith in Christ for the unbelievers it talks about. The three key verbs are all in the present tense and may be rather literally rendered, “But for those who are presently not believing…who are presently stumbling because they are presently disobeying the word, unto which also they were destined.” This does not of course imply that they will come to saving faith, but it does stop short of saying that their eternal condemnation is already ordained. It rather affirms that their present rebellion and disobedience has been ordained by God, and does not indicate whether it will continue throughout life or not. Indeed it could not indicate this, for Peter explicitly affirms the hope that many of these same unbelievers will come to faith (2:12; 3:1, 15; 2 Peter 3:9).
• It does not seem possible to escape the conclusion that what the text does affirm (the “destining” of present disobedience of unbelievers) implies also that all disobedience which tragically does persist to the end of life (and thus into eternity) has been “destined” by God.
• We may object that this does not seem to us morally right for God, even though it seems to be the inescapable meaning of the text before us. To this objection the only answer that Scripture gives is not to answer all our questions regarding “how” or “why,” but only to indicate that ultimately even the condemnation of unbelievers will result in greater glory to God, in the praise of His justice, and power, and mercy to those to whom He shows mercy (Romans 9:14-25). Thus God can ordain something that is in itself displeasing to Him because He knows that finally it will accomplish a greater good (the death of Christ is the ultimate example of this). When we cannot fully understand how this can be, it is for us simply to be silent before our Creator and wait for fuller understanding in eternity (Romans 9:19-20; Job 38:1-42:6).