Wow! I’m really excited about our time together today. Time to get your thinking caps on because Peter does some magic with these few verses. I’m praying that, by the time we finish today, your eyes will be opened and your heart will be touched by the grace of the Holy Spirit.
Did you know that the Holy Spirit is present in a special way when we read the scriptures? Part of His job is to point us to Jesus. Another part of His role is to support us in our attempts to follow all of the good things Jesus taught us during His time on Earth. The truth is, we can’t understand the Bible without His help. I’d like to invite you to take a moment to slip onto your knees and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you today. Tell Him you are hungry for the Word and for His help to understand it more fully. Go ahead… I’ll wait.
Back to Peter. I love this image because he does something really fun with these words. Remember how Jesus changed Peter’s name? It used to be Simon, and then it became Peter. Peter means rock, as in the Rock upon which Jesus would build His church. Back when Jesus first changed Peter’s name, Peter had a whole different set of priorities. Back then he was impulsive and fought for center stage. Now after many years of following Jesus, he’s become more content with the camera being locked on King Jesus.
Peter calls Jesus the Cornerstone. The cornerstone was a huge marble stone laid down on the front end of a construction project. In particular, Peter brought their attention to the Temple. Every other stone laid on top found its support and strength from the cornerstone. The cornerstone was typically very expensive, high quality, true and straight along the edges. If a cornerstone was crooked, the whole project would be off. A master builder would carefully choose his cornerstone. A lot of other stones had to be rejected to find just the right cornerstone.
Peter says that the stone rejected by builders became the Cornerstone. Now He’s taking us back to the Cross. Seems like Peter can’t get over what Jesus did for him. He just keeps reminding us, doesn’t he? Jesus was rejected by men so that we can be accepted by God. Jesus’ humble obedience to death on a cross becomes the foundation for a new temple.
God is going to build something new! This time he’s going to do it with living stones—not dead pieces of marble, but flesh and blood. Sons and daughters. Slaves set free from sin and death. I just love the image of all of us smooched together. I guess Peter wasn’t concerned with social distancing rules.
I can’t help but think about Jesus’ words when He says, “Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” Matt 16:18 (NLT). For Peter, this wasn’t just a Bible verse to memorize. Jesus’ words were personal and flowed fr om a life-defining conversation when Peter would be given the vision for the rest of his life.
Peter would give his whole life to working with Jesus to build this new church, this globally-scattered temple of God’s people filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit.
These words really encourage me. We might be scattered across the Bay Area, but we have not lost our power. We have not lost the promise that God is building something that will outlast us all. If the gates of HELL won’t stop it then COVID, quarantine, and closed buildings aren’t going to stand in the Master Builder’s way.
The question we have to wrestle through is not whether God will continue to build His church; the question is, “Will we be a part of it?”
In this passage, Peter is requoting a few things Jesus said. “Anyone who stumbles over that stone will be broken to pieces, and it will crush anyone it falls on.”
Matt 21:44 (NLT). You have to choose whether you want to allow God to break you down into a piece that will fit beautifully into His new building, or whether would you rather be crushed under the weight of pride? I know that comment can seem pretty “in your face,” but I have watched so many people refuse to humble themselves before God. Sometimes it expresses itself with an unwillingness to be corrected. Other times it’s an “I’m always right” attitude. For others, it’s the tendency to blame everyone else for their problems.
It’s rather sad and painful to watch the crushing. Stones that would have played a beautiful part, crushed under the weight of pride. Unwilling to submit to the Cornerstone and His wonderful plan for their lives. I usually find that under that pride is a deep insecurity that God cannot be trusted to care, guide, direct, or lead one’s life.
Friend, I love you and want God’s best for your life! I think a good place to finish today would be back in the same place we started—on our knees before God, in humility. If you humble yourself before God, you won’t need Him to humble you. You will experience some chiseling and pain, but in the end, it will be beautiful. We will be beautiful together. A house built for the Glory of God. He will fill us the way He filled the temple, and as living stones, we will declare the praises of the One who is worthy of all honor and glory: Christ alone, the Cornerstone!