Summary: As living stones built on Christ the Cornerstone we become the temple for God’s Spirit and a priestshood serving one another.
Christ the Cornerstone
What is the primary Biblical image Jesus’ disciple Peter used to describe Jesus? You might think Messiah, Savior, Lamb of God, Shepherd. Actually the primary Biblical image one of his disciples, Peter, used to portray Jesus is the Cornerstone. The first time Peter mentions Jesus as the Cornerstone is shortly after Pentecost, after Jesus’ resurrection and the Holy Spirit came filling the disciples like tongues of fire. Peter and John were dragged before the religious leaders to explain how they had healed a man. With the courage of the Holy Spirit, Peter boldly proclaimed in front of the very same religious leaders that had Jesus put to death, that the man was healed in the name and power of Jesus and then he quoted Psalm 118:22, Peter said, “He [Jesus] is ‘the stone the builders rejected, which has become the capstone (cornerstone).’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:11-12).”
In our day and age, unless you’re a stone mason, you probably don’t think much about cornerstones because most of our houses don’t have a cornerstone. We have poured concrete foundations, and studded walls. But in the 1st century Israel the primary building material, or at least their foundation material, was stone. And the most important stone in the whole house was the cornerstone. 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 just so because if it was off, even a little bit, the whole building was off. Those who are in construction know how frustrating it can be when a foundation is not plumb.
Peter tells us Jesus Christ is the stone that was rejected. He was rejected by the Jews, he was rejected by the Gentiles (Romans). When Jesus took the sins of the world upon himself, even his own Father rejected him, at least for a little while. But because he himself was sinless, God raised him up and placed him as the Cornerstone. He is the foundation, there is no other foundation upon which we can build our lives which will result in our salvation because any other foundation would be flawed.
Peter tells us no one can avoid the cornerstone, you are either going to trip and stumble over it, and reject him, or you are going to accept him, and build your life upon him. Not just on his teaching, but on the person of Jesus. The one thing you can’t do is ignore him.
Living Stones Built into a Living Temple of the Holy Spirit
In the NRSV 1 Peter 2:5 reads a little differently, it says, “…Let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood.” In other words, there is a choice I need to make. First, am I willing to build myself on Christ as the cornerstone? Are we building on Christ as the cornerstone or on some other foundation? Building on Jesus means we put our faith in him, but it also means we set our lives according to his. We line our lives up according to his.