Jesus – Our Cornerstone (1 Pet 2:4-8)


Ben Tellinghuisen - May 18, 2014

Jesus - Our Cornerstone (1 Pet 2:4-8)

3 Responses to the Chief Cornerstone Transcript: Open up your bibles to 1st Peter 2 – 1st Peter 2:4-8. If you have a pew bible or you don’t have a bible, the pew bible in front of you, go ahead and grab that. It’s on page 1294. Go ahead and open up your pew bible to page 1294 or 1st Peter 2:4-8. We’ve been having the privilege to read through Genesis in our services and every once and a while you come to a passage that is just a woeful description of sin, like we saw this morning, and we’re reminded again that it sure isn’t a result of the kindness or goodness in Jacob or his sons that made them God’s chosen people, but it is entirely a work of God and so that was another reminder of the sinfulness of man and God’s amazing grace that covers even a multitude of sins. Well let’s read our passage this morning – 1st Peter 2:4-8. Peter writes this: “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men, but in the sight of God, chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God, through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture, behold I am lying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone, chosen and precious and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame. So the honor is for you who believe. But for those who do not believe, the stone that the builders rejected become the cornerstone, and a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense. They stumble because they disobey the word as they were destined to do.” You may be seated. Many people love their pets, don’t they? You know someone, in fact I know someone, who literally wipes the dog’s behind after it goes to the bathroom. That’s love, let me tell you. You think that’s absurd, just look at the doggy or kitty handbags, the clothes, the organic foods, and the specialty body care products that are available for dogs. It’s kind of ridiculous. There’s even an annual pet expo, to show off the latest and greatest in pet gadgetry. In some cities, and this is actually a sad thing, there are actually more dogs than kids – most notably in Seattle and San Francisco. You know what that means, of course – big money for the pet industry. In 1994, a whopping 17 billion dollars was spent on pets in the United States – that’s 1994. Fast forward 20 years later, in 2014, many predict a figure close to 60 billion spent on pets. That’s over 3 and a half times as much in just 20 years that’s spent on pets. Not surprised then, to find that as I recently watched a documentary, I observed many struggled to answer this particular question, “If your dog and your neighbor are both drowning and you only have enough time to save one of them, which would you choose to save?” I was actually shocked to find that a lot of people said, “Well, probably my dog.” It’s rather absurd when you think about it, this love and this care that we have for animals. Yeah, don’t get me wrong, I think we should love our animals and take care of them, but the amount of money and the amount of affection that we put towards animals is a little bit misplaced in our culture today. It’s rather clear to see where many in our culture’s priorities lay, where their treasures are by these misplaced priorities. It’s because your priorities, you treasure, it guides your actions, it guides how you respond in every situation, it guides how you spend your money. And so this morning, I want you to ask yourselves, “What are your priorities this morning? What’s your priority in life?” We all know that Jesus calls all of his followers to have, as our priority, following him and serving him and we all know that Jesus said that the cost of discipleship, the cost of following him was incredibly great – it meant dying to yourself, dying to want you would want to do and think would be best for you, dying to your love for your pet even, and living totally and completely for him. As John the Baptist put it in John 3:30, “He must increase and I must decrease.” As we begin to prioritize living for Christ, he and his word begin to guide everything we think – everything we say and everything we do, or at least should. Another way to put this truth is that Christ is our cornerstone. Christ is our cornerstone. What does that mean? Well, a cornerstone in modern times, we often think of a decorative or commemorative stone set in the bottom of the building. We have one out in the west corner of the building out front here. It just commemorates when the building was erected and that’s what we might think of a cornerstone, but in ancient times, if the building is laid with a foundation of stone – the cornerstone was the very first stone that was set in the construction and it would act then as a guide for all other stones. All angles of that cornerstone had to be exactly precise, if the top of it was one way or the other; the walls that built on top of that would either fall in or fall out, so the cornerstone had to be exactly and precisely even in all of its angles. If it was not 90 degrees, the walls would spread apart and we wouldn’t be able to meet in the middle. So if your cornerstone is off, your whole building is off. That’s why Jesus is said to be our cornerstone. If he’s not your cornerstone, the whole building of your life is off. If knowing, following, and serving him is not your primary priority, you will remain young in the faith if you’re even a Christian at all. Sin will continue to entangle. The various winds of temptation and false teaching will toss you around like a rudderless boat and if Jesus and his word are not our church’s cornerstone, then we as a body of Christ, will be built on shifting sands and the Gospel witness, which God has given us, will disintegrate during the floods that God brings. I thank God that through the storms that we’ve endured in the last year that collectively, we remain rooted and firm in our foundation as a church. I rejoice in that. I thank God for that every day. It’s just another testimony to God’s powerful work in the lives of his people. My prayer is that this church and each of individually would make Christ our cornerstone, exulting him as our highest priority. And in this text, Jesus is posited as our cornerstone and Peter gives us three responses to the chief cornerstone. He’s going to give us three different responses. The first two are the Christian’s response and the third is the world’s response. 3 Responses to the Chief Cornerstone 1. Christians are Built-up on Christ (vv.4–5) Well, the first Christian response to Jesus as the chief cornerstone is that we’re built up on Christ. We’re built up on Christ as our chief cornerstone. Now the main idea is simple, we’ve found this is verses 4 and 5 and you really have to take the first introductory phrase of verse 4 and combine with verse 5. Most of verse 4 is a parenthetical statement, if you remember English. So, verse 4 says, “As you come to him,” and verse 5, “You, yourselves, like a living stone are being built up as a spiritual house.” So that’s the main idea of these two verses. As you come to Jesus, you then, and you as a church, are going to be like living stones built into a spiritual house. Now it says and it calls the Christians, “like living stones.” It’s been many years since I took biology, but if memory serves me correct, stones were not part of that course, right? We’ve got animals, we got plants, we have birds, reptiles, fish, humans, but never rocks in my biology, and that’s because rocks aren’t alive. But here, we are called living stones and that echoes Christ, who in the middle of verse 4 is called a “living stone.” Why is that significant? Did Peter just get confused and start mixing up his metaphors? I don’t think so. You look at the context and you realize that Christians are built upon Christ to make a spiritual house. And what goes on in that spiritual house? Worship, spiritual sacrifices – look at verse 5. We’re built up to make a spiritual house, to offer spiritual sacrifices and so many see the connection to the Jewish temple. Well, the Jewish temple of course, that great spiritual house in ancient Israel was made with regular, old, dead rocks, wasn’t it? It was far from being alive. So, the temple was dead just like the Jewish religion, and the Jewish religious system with the ongoing sacrifices and restricted access to God, is likewise, dead. And Peter’s point is very clear, he used to be a follower of the Jewish religious system and now he says, “Look. We have a better temple. We have a better religious system – one that is alive – a better way to God. A living temple made with living stones, built on the living cornerstone in Jesus Christ.” As one commentator writes, “The fact that Christ is the living stone shows at once his superiority to an Old Testament temple made of dead stones, and reminds Christians that there can be no longing for that old way of approach to God, for this way is far better.” That is why we are said in 1st Peter 1, verse 3, to have a living hope, because we have a living savior. Notice in verse 5 as well, this is addressed to the whole church that is gathered together. Verse 5 says, “You all [or y’all] yourselves [plural here] like living stones are being built into a temple.” This speaks volumes about the nature of the church, doesn’t it? Buildings, what we see here, we have plenty of dead stones – it’s nice. I’m very grateful for the nice building that we have. But, buildings are expendable. If a tornado were to come and wipe this place out, we would still have a church, wouldn’t we? It’s because the church isn’t what we see here, the church is what we see out there. The church is all of us, being built upon Jesus Christ. The church is believers who gather together, committed to loving one another, and committed to the furtherance of the Gospel message, and we are mutually built on our chief cornerstone, Jesus Christ. You see, it is through Christ that we now have a crystal clarity on who God is. It is through Christ that we now have a complete and lasting forgiveness. It is through Christ that we now have access to the heavenly throne room and that we can lift up our petitions, our praises, our everything straight to God himself. It is through Christ that we have an inheritance that will not fade as we found out earlier in chapter 1 in 1st Peter, and it is through Christ that we have the hope of a resurrection. You see, when we are built upon Christ as our cornerstone, we receive these wonderful blessings, both individually and as a church. Now a good question is, “How then, can I be built up in Christ?” We understand that Christians are those who are built upon Jesus as our cornerstone and we are built up into a living tabernacle, a living temple, a living building, a spiritual building, but how is that we can be built up in Christ? Well, Peter answers this as well in these first verses, and he’s going to give us three ways that we can be built up in Christ. There’s really sub-points in our first point here: The first way we can be built up in Christ is – you keep coming. You keep coming to coming to God. Well, look at the beginning of verse 4 again. He says, “As you come to him,” as you come to him. You are all familiar with the phrase, “Come to Christ.” We use it to describe our initial conversion, don’t we? We usually describe, “I came to Christ after I heard the Gospel message. I became a Christian.” That’s also how Jesus uses it. He calls people to follow him. We see that in John, chapter 6. You can listen or turn with me if you want - we’re going to look at a couple of verses in this passage. John, chapter 6, verse 35, this is what Jesus says. He uses the same word, “to come.” “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me shall not hunger and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.’” So Jesus calls those who are listening to him to come to him, to treat him as the bread of life, as their chief nourishment. Then he says in verse 37, “All that the Father gives me will come to me and whoever comes to me, I will never cast out.” Oh the blessed hope of knowing that once we are kids, once we have come to Jesus, it is because God has caused us to come to him, and he will never then forsake us. He will never cast us out. And this same truth is echoed in verse 44, “No one can come to me unless the Father, who sent him, draws him and I will raise him up on the last day.” In other words, no matter what God brings in this life, Jesus says, “I will raise you up on the last day, and if you have come to Christ, it is because God has called you and purposed for you to come to Christ.” He says the same thing again in verse 65 of chapter 6. He said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” And so, although we must respond to the Gospel call and come, it is God who quickens our heart to believe and come to him in salvation. Now we go back to our text and it says, “As you come to him,” and this word ‘come’ in our text is actually used in the present tense. That’s important because that means that it’s ongoing. It’s something that happens again and again and again, it’s not that happens only at the point of conversion – yes, we come to Christ at the point of conversion, but in this particular passage is saying, “as you continue to come to Christ, as you keep on coming to Christ.” So the Christian is the one who is coming time and time and time again to Christ. The same word is often translated as ‘drawing near in worship.’ It’s used that way several times in the book of Hebrews. Hebrews 10:22 says it like this, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience.” So you see we’re encouraged to draw near, or come to Christ in worship and that described what we should be doing regularly as Christians. So you want to be built up on Christ? You come regularly to him. It’s not a one-time thing that you do at conversion. I love what proceeds the command or the encouragement to “draw near to Christ with a true heart of worship,” in Hebrews 10. 19-21 set the stage for that because why is it that we would want to come to Christ anyways? It’s because he’s saved us. It’s because he’s cleansed us. It’s because he’s done so much for us. Listen to what the author of Hebrews says: “Therefore brothers, since we have competence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way the he opened for us, through the curtain that is through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. You see, our motivation for drawing near to Christ and worshipping and coming to worship him is because he has done a great and mighty work. He’s opened up the curtain and said, “Come into my heavenly throne room and see me and come bring your petitions to me and know me.” That is a blessed privilege and so we ought to be those who come regularly to Jesus and on our knees in prayer and together corporately in worship. Not only do we come to God at the point of conversion, again likewise, we are to come near and worship our great God and our great savior regularly. A helpful illustration for this point comes in our context in 1st Peter. You see verses 2 and 3, it sets the context for verse 4, “As you come to him.” Well, how is it that we come to him? Verses 2 and 3 make it clear: “Like newborn infants” we are to come with Jesus Christ, “Longing for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” And so we are reminded of the same vivid picture and vivid illustration that we got last week. “Like newborn infants,” we are to long for Jesus. Newborns, they need milk to survive and regular milk to survive. When we had Abigail recently, I remember Leah waking Abigail up every couple hours, and anyone who had a newborn remembers that. Even if they’re sleeping, you’re supposed to just wake them up because they need regular, regular food. Time in and time again they need that food. That’s exactly the picture of how we are to come to Christ. We are to come to him and come to his word and get fed regularly time and time again. See it’s not just a casual approach to Jesus and the word we have. No, it’s an intense primary longing for the word like the littlest baby who longs for milk – that is how we are regularly supposed to come to Jesus. This also doesn’t mean that we are casual in our approach to spiritual things like church, to bible reading, to bible study, those things aren’t to be our 2nd, 3rd or 4th or 5th or 6th on our list of priorities. Imagine if you treated your jobs, like some of you treat drawing near to Christ. “Well, I’m going to call in. I just had a long day yesterday; I don’t think I’m going to make it. I’ll come in 20, 30 minutes late. No big deal. I’ll come in a couple hours late, leave early.” You’d get fired, wouldn’t you? We often treat our approach to God in that same way. It’s not just church; it’s in our approach to him in our daily devotions. It’s in our approach to him with our time we have with fellowship with other believers. It just doesn’t have a priority in our life like it ought. So regularly drawing near to Christ should be the Christians highest priority. So how can I be built up, how can I keep coming to Christ? It can be built up by drawing near to worship, drinking deeply from the spiritual nourishment of the word. Well secondly, we can be built up in our faith and built up in our understanding of Jesus Christ, our cornerstone, when we see Jesus as the Father sees Jesus – that’s the second way we can be built up. We see Jesus as the Father sees Jesus. We see this also in verse 4. Here’s that parenthetical statement that he has, he says, “Speaking of Jesus, he is a living stone, he has been rejected by men, but in the sight of God he’s chosen and precious.” So first we see he’s been totally rejected by men and this is categorically mankind is born rejecting Jesus, ultimately not seeing Jesus as God see Jesus. How we see it is to fool yourself into thinking that you know Jesus or that you can accept part of what he says, but not all of it. How we see it is to worship Jesus of your own imagination. Saying, “You know Jesus was a good man, but he’s not God.” Saying, “Jesus would never judge anyone. He just loves everyone so much.” Have you read the Gospel accounts and how he treated the Pharisees? Talk about judgment. Maybe you might say, “Jesus would want me to be happy in whatever way I most want to be happy.” Well then why did he say, “Deny yourself, stop living for yourself and follow me?” Some might say, “Jesus is so big, so divine, that he doesn’t have time to care about poor, little me.” Jesus rebuked the disciples for prohibiting children from coming to him, right? He cares about every single one of us. How easy it is to reject Jesus completely and think of Jesus in your own terms, rather than in God’s terms. I’ve read of, speaking of being deceptive, I read a story this week where a 31 year old Texas woman was posing as a 15 year old girl – Kind of amazing. She approached a woman and she claimed to be an orphan running away from an abusive situation and she had forged some documents and said that she was actually 15 years old. Well this woman, this was back in October, she took her in and began providing for her and enrolled her in a private high school, a Christian school, but eventually people began to get suspicious, starting with the woman who took her into her home and it took over seven months for them to realize that this woman was just fraudulent. That she had faked everything. For us, how easy it to be fooled by frauds? You see, Satan has plenty of counterfeit Jesus’s out there, vying for our love, vying for our attention. We have to view Jesus as God views Jesus. And our text reveals 2 ways, right? In the sight of God he is what? – Chosen and precious. When he says he’s chosen it indicates that everything about Jesus was planned ahead a time, there’s no mistakes in the events of Jesus’s life. In the Sunday school hour, in the youth group this morning, Tom taught on the parable of Jesus talking about “I’m the good shepherd” and at the end of the parable, he says, “You know what? I’m going to lay down my life and no one can take it from me, but I’m going to do it willingly.” Reminding his disciples, even before his death happened, that Jesus was the one who gave himself up. It was all planned ahead of time. He was the one who purposed to do that. You can’t think of Jesus as a poor, wise teacher who was just at the wrong place at the wrong time and just got himself crucified, or that much of what you know about him is somehow a myth because you have a bias against the supernatural. No, God chose Jesus to come, to live, to die, to do the miracles, and to rise again exactly how Jesus did it and is exactly how it is recorded in the Word. Well it also says that God views Jesus as precious – precious. Nothing is more central or more important to our faith in Jesus. Well, he isn’t precious like a Precious Moment’s Doll is precious - I want you to get that out of your mind – precious like a diamond is precious, a precious stone. He is incredibly valued. So, we are built up into God’s house as we come regularly before Christ in worship and when we do, we worship the Jesus of the Word, not the Jesus of our imagination. And third, how we can be built up in Jesus – we participate in priestly worship. You participate in priestly worship and we see that in verse 5, “You yourselves, like living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” This last point is more a result of being a part of God’s spiritual house, it says, “We are built up into a spiritual house.” Why: “To be a spiritual priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices.” So it is a result rather than how we are built up, but we also must understand that the results of being built up in Christ further produce spiritual growth. Think of the apt illustration of an upward spiral of spiritual growth. You get that? So you come to Christ and you regularly come to Christ, you keep on coming, you see Jesus as the Father sees Jesus, and then our third point here, is of course, you participate in priestly worship. And as you continue to participate in this priestly worship, you are then motivated to come again to Jesus – that’s the spiral analogy – and you again confess Jesus who he is and so on, like an upward spiral. The opposite of course, is true as well. You can spiral down to despair as we neglect each of these important building blocks as we neglect coming to Jesus, says we neglect to see Jesus as the Bible presents Jesus, and as we neglect to participate in the priestly worship he’s given us to participate in. So what is our priestly worship? Why do we say priestly, why does he use this analogy of priesthood? You are to be built up into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood? Well, this is one of the most precious truths about God’s New Covenant – one that Catholics actually totally miss because they still have priests as their primary mediators between God and man. We call this the “Priesthood of All Believers.” You see, we no longer need a temple, we no longer need a priest, we no longer need a mediator other than Jesus Christ. Christ is our only mediator; he has finished the work that we have to receive forgiveness of sins. So, every Christian is able to have access directly to God. We read about that in Hebrews 10, didn’t we? We have access into throne room of God’s grace and so we are like priests then, because we don’t need any other mediator besides Jesus. He is our only and true mediator. We don’t need to go confess sin to a man, we don’t need to ask a patron saint for help, we don’t need to ask a priest how to atone for sins, all that work has been completely done, and we, in reality, are our own priests, lifting up requests to God. And notice; it’s everyone, everyone who’s being built up in Christ as their Cornerstone is described in this way, we are all described as priests. Well, this is also further mentioned in verse 9 of chapter 2 and we’ll get to that next week when we get to that text, when it says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood…” Well, as priests would off sacrifices, we are said here to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ, as he says at the end of verse 5 there. Of course, we’re not talking literal sacrifices, not offering Christ’s body in the altar of mass again and again and again, not offering the blood of a lamb or a bull or a goat – we’re not doing that any longer because the once and for all sacrifice has already been paid. It says here we are to offer up spiritual sacrifices. It’s the same word used to describe the type of house that we are built up into. We are built up into a spiritual house. It simply means ‘possessing the nature of the Holy Spirit.” So, really these offerings can be anything in this life done in obedience to the Holy Spirit. You think of Romans 12:1, right? We’re to offer up our lives as a living sacrifice. Everything we are to do is to be like a sacrifice of a wonderful offering to God. Philippians 4:18 says that we are to give our monetary gifts for the sport of Gospel ministry in local churches and that’s an offering or spiritual sacrifice. Hebrews 13:15 says we are to be offering up songs and words of praise as a spiritual sacrifice. Hebrews 13:16, very next first, says, “We are to be offering up our service and our goods to those who are in need.” So as priests we offer all we do, all we say, even all we think on the altar of life as an offering to God. But this is only possible through Jesus Christ as is our cornerstone – as he alone is our priority, as he alone sets the lines for the trajectory of our lives. For our lives are to be acceptable offerings to Jesus, then they must be led on the narrow path that he alone can set. So we’ve established that Christians are built up in Christ, even how we are built up. We’re built up as we keep on coming to Christ. We’re being built up as we see Jesus as the Father sees Jesus, and we are built up as we participate in the priestly worship he’s given us to do and that’s living our whole lives for his glory. 2. Christians are Trusting Christ (vv.6–7a) Well we also see that Christians response to Jesus as our chief cornerstone is that Christians are trusting Christ. We see this in verses 6 and 7. Christians are trusting Christ. Peter begins this passage by saying, “For it stands in Scripture,” and like any good preacher, Peter goes back and uses Scripture to make his point, expect this is Scripture using Scripture. It’s helpful for us though to know that the New Testament regularly quotes the Old to make a point. There’s a sense in which the Holy Spirit is instructing us how to use and think about the Bible. We always have to go back to the Word of God. We can’t go back to our own way of understanding things, we can’t go back to our own way of thinking things, we have to go back, “Well is this what the Bible says?” That’s exactly what Peter does. Here Peter makes some further points based on quoting three different important verses that speak of the coming Messiah as the cornerstone. So he says, “Look, I’ve talked about Jesus as the cornerstone, the living stone in which we are to be building our lives on and directing our lives on,” Well he says, “Here’s where I get this idea that Jesus is the cornerstone.” He says in verse 6, “For it stands in Scripture: ‘Behold I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’ So the honor is for you who believe…” So clearly Peter had this text in mind as he talked about Jesus as God’s chosen and precious living stone in verse 4, right? Because that is exactly what this verse says and it’s a quote of Isaiah 28:16, “I’m laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone that is both chosen and precious.” Now he also says in this verse in Isaiah that “whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” I like the translation of ‘trust’ for ‘believe’ here. This idea of trust because the Greek word for believe implies so much more than simply acknowledging some facts to be true. It means that we trust intimately, with our whole being. It’s faith that trusts in Jesus Christ. Like the boy who has faith that his dad won’t drop him as he spins him around. When Eli gets up into my arms and asks me to do that, he’s not thinking, “Oh no. He’s going to let go.” He trusts me. He believes that I’m not going to do that. So Peter also interprets this idea of the believer’s trust in him in not being put to shame in the beginning of verse 7. He says, “So the honor is for you who believe…” Now if you have the ESV, the Holman Christian Standard, the NAT, the NASB, they all get this right but for some reason the NIV follows the wrong reading of the King James here, indicating that the stone is what is honored, right? If you have the NIV you see that in front of you. It’s actually not the stone that is honored, it’s “those who believe” that is honored. Basically, virtually every commentator agrees on this point: the grammar makes it very clear in the Greek that the stone, although it’s true, is honored, it’s those who believe in the stone that will be honored. That’s amazing when you think about it, isn’t it. God honors us. Oh, it makes sense that God would honor the stone but God honors those who believe in Him – who view him as precious. See, there is human responsibility to place our trust in the chief cornerstone and when we do, we are highly esteemed, justified, even given praise and rewards for our faith. To help us understand this, we trust in money, don’t we? We trust that it’s going to be valuable and that it has intrinsic value. When you see a hundred dollar bill you think, “Well I’m going to take care of that one hundred dollar bill a lot more than I’m going to take care of that one dollar bill that I have in my wallet,” right? Because you know that that one hundred dollar bill has intrinsic value in it. You see that one hundred on there and you’re like, “I can get a lot more with this one hundred dollar bill than my one dollar bill.” Well similarly, the great Cornerstone of our faith has made many claims and all the angles have been tested and found to be true in that great Cornerstone. He’s made many claims in his life and we have it recorded in Scriptures. The Christian is the one who trusts those claims to be true. When it says one hundred dollars, we believe that it is a hundred dollars. When Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, the life. No one comes to the Father but by me,” we believe that no one can come to the Father except through Jesus Christ. Jesus made this point very, very clear. What you do with him determines whether or not you belong to God. We see this in the parable of the wicked tenants. If you want to turn with me, you can look at that. It’s in Luke, chapter 20, verses 9-18 – Luke, chapter 20, verses 9-18. Luke, chapter 20, verses 9-18. Jesus tells a parable, really against the Pharisees and the religious leaders, Sadducees: “And he began to tell the people this parable: ‘A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty handed. And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully and sent him away empty handed. And he sent yet a third [tenant, a third servant]. This one also they wounded and cast out.’” Verse 13: “’Then the owner of the vineyard said, “What shall I do?I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.” But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, “This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.” And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!”’ They got what he was talking about. “’But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written: “’”The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone”? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.’” So Jesus very clearly says that God will give the vineyard to those who trust, those who welcome, those who embrace his servants – the Old Testament prophets and his son. 3. The World Stumbles on Christ (vv.7b–8) Jesus also points to our third reality here that Peter addresses as well – The world stumbles on Christ. The world stumbles on Christ. You see, Jesus quotes the same verse used in our passage in Psalm 18:22: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” And he applies it to the Pharisees here – the keepers of the Jewish religion, the Sadducees, those who had rule over the Jewish religion, he says, “You know what? You were the builders. You were the tenants of my vineyard, Israel, and you have rejected what I have taught you. You have rejected my servant. In fact, you have rejected me – the son – and you’ve even killed me and you’ve rejected the chief cornerstone. But that doesn’t mean the cornerstone will stop being the cornerstone. The cornerstone will always be the cornerstone, Jesus makes crystal clear in our passage and it is those who believe in him, who trust in him that we’ve built up upon that cornerstone. And so we have rejection of those who reject those reject Jesus Christ. And Peter applies it even in a broader sense – to the entire world – the cornerstone becomes a stumbling stone. Now Jesus also alludes to another passage in verse 18. He says, “Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” And he’s alluding to Daniel, chapter 2 – Daniel, chapter 2 – where Daniel looks at the King Nebuchadnezzar’s vision. If you want to turn there you can, or you can listen as I read a couple of verses from that. Daniel, chapter 2, verses 31-34. King Nebuchadnezzar was funny. He said, “You know what? I had a dream and it’s very troubling and I want you to interpret it for me, but I’m not going to tell you what the dream was.” And so no one could know what the dream was. All of the religious people, all of his mystics, all of the enchanters, all of the people that had some sort of ‘ability’ to interpret dreams; they had no idea what to do. They said, “You’re not being fair, Nebuchadnezzar.” Well Daniel, he knows what to do. He says, “Look, I’m going to tell you your dream. Here it is.” Here’s what he says, “You saw, oh king, and behold a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness stood before you and its appearance was frightening. The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces.” Well, Daniel gives the interpretation, he says, “You,” speaking to Nebuchadnezzar, “are the head of gold. Another kingdom inferior to you shall rise after you, and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth.” And then speaking of that great stone, verse 44: “And in those days of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.” That’s exactly what Jesus was talking about. He says, “I am going to be that great stone, who will fall and break into pieces every other kingdom that has existed and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him. This is a fallen world system. Kings, economies, philosophies, they all stumble on Christ. They all stumble on the great stone of Heaven. Paul in 1st Corinthians 1:18 says that the “Word of the cross is foolish to the world.” They see Jesus and they see absolute foolishness. No one naturally likes the message of “stop living for yourself, recognize your thorough sin nature, and turn to God.” And so the world stumbles, thinking their ways are better than God’s ways, thinking their wisdom is greater than God’s wisdom, thinking their kingdoms are better than God’s kingdom, thinking that their philosophies are better than God’s philosophy, thinking their governments are better than Jesus. But the Kingdom and the building that is built on Jesus will never fade for all eternity, and brothers and sisters, that is what we are. We are God’s Kingdom. We are those that get to inherit this eternal kingdom with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone, as the great and mighty King. With that as a backdrop, let’s look at our text in verses 7 and 8 so we see that the world stumbles on Christ in these verses. He said there’s “honor for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,’ and ‘A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.’” In other words, “For all the world who does not trust as Jesus as savior – the Biblical understanding of Jesus – becomes offensive.” Peter expands Jesus’s point. It wasn’t just the Pharisees who stumbled on Jesus, it was everyone who stumble on Jesus. The last code is taken from Isaiah 8:14 and 15, which in the context of it, of Isaiah, we see he speaks especially against religious people. Isaiah 1 has this to say about religious people – God says in verse 13, Isaiah 1:13: “Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations – I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even what though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.” See, God hates religious people. God hates religious people who are hypocrites who do things like pray, who say, “I’m praying for you,’ who lift up their holy hands in the worship service, who keep all the right times of the year, who offer plenty of sacrifices to God, who say, “I am going to keep my way straight and narrow, when the heart is only concerned for living for themselves. When their hearts are only concerned about what they might look like to others, thinking that they might be able to earn God’s favor by what they do. See, Jesus, and the message of Jesus, is sporadically different. “You can’t do, you can’t be religious enough, you can’t do enough to get my forgiveness.” That’s why it’s so offensive. We want to be able to do something desperately. We want to so desperately to be in control, but we can’t. So the great cornerstone of our faith is not only a source of stumbling for the secularists, for the atheists, but even many who claim to worship God. What else does Peter say about these people in verse 8? Well the end of the verse 8, he says this: “They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. Ultimately, the rejection of God and his cornerstone comes down to a moral issue. Why do people reject Jesus? Because they would rather do what they want to do, live in sin, they don’t want to be told what they’re doing is wrong. They disobey the Word. Naturally in our hearts, we’re inclined to do that and why do we reject Jesus? Because we want to disobey the Word. That’s our nature. By nature, we want to do what we want to do and we hate to be told that what we’re doing is wrong. We like our autonomy. And so therefore, we do not like Jesus by nature. Now the final phrase has caused many to pause. It says this: “They stumble because they disobey the Word, as they were destined to do.” It causes people to pause because it speaks of God’s sovereignty, even over those who would reject him and a lot of people will say, “Isn’t God all loving? Doesn’t he desire all men to be saved? Doesn’t he call us to come to him and he calls us to come to him, and yet at the same time he says were destined to continue to stumble over Jesus? How can this be?” We have to answer, “Yes,” that he is all loving, “Yes,” he desires all men to be saved, and, ”Yes,” he calls us to come to him, but here’s one of the great tensions that we see in Scripture. See God is all love and yes, God cares and wants everyone to come to him, but at the same time, he’s all sovereign – he’s in control of everything. See, I firmly believe that God elects, that he predestines, that he chooses, and he calls specifically those who are Christians and my understanding of my own sinfulness and my own heart and my own inability by nature to choose him requires me to believe that, but most importantly many Bible passages require it as well. But does this mean that the opposite is true? Does God elect people to Hell? I’m going to say no to that, but this passage does say that we’re destined, that some of the people are destined to go to Hell. Along with Romans 9, we see that God has purposed that some men will never know him. They will stumble on the chief cornerstone and we also see in Romans 9:23, that he allows people to continue in sin, even purposes for them to never know him so that his great patience and his great race can be shown towards the vessels of mercy that he has prepared beforehand. Yes, we see a contrast between those two, but the words elect, predestined, chooses - they’re not used to describe unbelievers, in fact this is a different word that is used here. It is a more general term, ‘destined.’ So yes, there’s got to be a tension in Scripture because God puts that tension in there. God has chosen believers to know and follow him, and he even allows unbelievers to continue to reject him, but let’s balance that with God’s great love for everyone and his desire to see all men saved. Brothers and sisters, we don’t know who was elect and who was not. And so his command for us to spread the good news of the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth are incredibly relevant. His commands for us and even his example for us to call people to come to him is exactly what we should be doing and encouraging people to make a choice to follow Jesus. We want people to do that and there’s also the tension in Scripture that we saw earlier – we are praised when we come and follow Jesus Christ. But we must not lose his main point in the midst of all of this theological discussion. The main point of these verses is that by nature, the world will reject Jesus. They will stumble over the message of the Gospel and so we must be those who pray earnestly and are totally dependent upon God to do a mighty work in the hearts of his people. So let us look intently at the cornerstone of our faith. Let us keep coming before him and his Word time and time again, intently serving and worshiping him as he has called us to do. So that we can be built up into the people and to the church that God has called us to be – that our trust in him would be evident to the watching world and that we might help those who stumble on Christ no longer see Christ as foolish, but see Christ for who he is – the great and glorious savior of our souls.

Scripture References: 1 Peter 2:4-8

From Series: "1 Peter: Standing Firm in this Shaky Life"

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