Building Block or Stumbling Stone?
1 Peter 2:4-8
“…you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house…” vs. 5
The world’s tallest building. The Burj Khalifa opened in Dubai January 4, 2010. At a staggering 2,717 feet tall – more than half a mile high – it easily overshadows the previous tallest building (Taipei in Taiwan is but 1,671 feet tall) and it stands double the height of the renowned Empire State Building.
It accommodates 12,000 people, the Burj Khalifa, built at a cost of $1.5 billion, captured several other world records. Those include:
*Tallest man-made structure: (previously Warsaw radio mast – 2,121 ft);
*Building with most floors: 160 (previously Willis Tower – 108);
*Highest elevator and world’s fastest elevators (40 mph);
*First world’s tallest structure to include residential space;
*Highest outdoor observation deck (on the 124th floor);
*World’s highest mosque (located on the 158th floor);
*World’s highest swimming pool (76th floor);
While most attention focuses on its height, perhaps more important is what lies buried beneath the building. Without a solid foundation, the world’s tallest building would become the world’s longest pile of rubble. Extending 164 feet deep under the Burj Khalifa lies 58,900 cubic yards of concrete weighing over 120,000 tons. It took a year just to build the foundation.
It probably goes without saying but you can’t have a strong and sturdy building without a strong and sturdy foundation. The foundation is important for the longevity of the building and even more important for the safety of the people who are in the building. You want a good building? You lay a great foundation. The same is true life as well, for our lives. If you want a good life, a strong and steady life, one that can stand the turmoil, the rough times, the storms of life, you better have your life built on something that can withstand those things and that is a secure place for you to live. Peter talks about this in 1 Peter 2:4-8. If you are able, please stand as we read this portion of God’s Word.
Read Passage – 1 Peter 2:4-8
As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 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.” 7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8 and, “A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
Our foundation determines a lot about what the building will look like and what the building can hold and how it can survive. Peter is making a tremendous statement here. It’s made against the background of the ancient architecture that the people of his time would understand and see in the building around them. He says in verse 5:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone…” vs. 6
Characteristics of a cornerstone.
1. The cornerstone was the first stone laid. It was the first stone laid because all of the dimensions of the rest of the house were projected off of the dimensions of the cornerstone.
2. It had to be the most perfectly cut because it determines what the house will be. The lines of the cornerstone become the lines of the house. It had to be cut perfectly with right angles to the ground then the house will not be at good right angles. If the dimensions and angles of the cornerstone are off, the house is off. If the cornerstone is true, the house is true.
3. It had to be the toughest and strongest stone, because if there was any lack of integrity in the stone, if there were any structural flaws or fissures, if it crumbled in any way, the house, the entire house would be compromised or even lost. It was the one stone on which everything else was really resting.
4. It was usually the largest stone, for all of the above. Therefore, literally, the cornerstone was the most precious stone. It was most precious because, literally, it was the most expensive. It was the most labor-intensive.
Building Block or Stumbling Stone
As you can see from the description, it is a key to having a good and sturdy building. But Peter makes an interesting analogy here, he says that this rock can be one of two things, it can be a building block or it can be a stumbling stone. Let’s look at what Peter means when he points this out to us.
First, Peter is really clear that for many people this rock thing isn’t such a good thing, in fact, it’s a stumbling stone. Read with me again verse 8:
“A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.” vs. 8
Peter explains here that the stumbling comes because of disobedience. What is disobedience? Really it is distrust. Now remember that Jesus is the cornerstone. The cornerstone is where the whole weight of the building rests and it has to take everything on itself to do its job. So this rock becomes a stumbling stone because you are not resting on it or trusting it will hold the building up. Lots of people say they are a Christian and believe in Christ. Great! But what are they trusting in? What are they resting on, putting their weight on? Being a Christian means you are calling yourself a follower of Christ, you rest your weight and all you are on him. So even though it was in the verse previous to this you can see what Peter was inferring to when you read verse 7:
“But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone…” vs. 7
So get this, you call yourself a Christian but you do not believe it enough to trust and rest and put all you weight on him.
Ex. Building a human pyramid. Putting the strongest, biggest guys on the bottom. Then if the person feels it is okay they climb up on top. Ever see somebody that doesn’t want to climb up on top? They don’t trust the foundation. They don’t think it can hold their weight. They can’t rest being on top.
This was not a new prediction. It was prophesied in the Old testament that this was going to be the case. Isaiah said in verse 8:14:
“He will be a holy place; for both Israel and Judah he will be a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” Isaiah 8:14
Ex. Peter in AD Jerusalem after the conversion of Saul
To modern-day Israel, Jesus remains a stumbling stone. For much of the world Jesus is stumbling block. What is unfortunate, is that this has eternal consequences. Peter doesn’t just say this to the people who don’t believe. Let me remind you that Peter is writing to the church. He is saying this to us too. If you know today that you’re really not a Christian, but you’re really not sure what you’d have to do, here’s the start. Trust in him. If you can’t, Jesus is still a stumbling stone.
Luckily, Peter doesn’t just stop with that thought. Let’s look at the good news in verses 7-8:
“’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.’ 7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious.” vss. 7-8
So let’s look at this from two angles. First individually. Notice that is says “See I lay a stone…” That is God speaking. God is building his house.
Individually you have a decision to make. Do you trust God and his plan and his will for your life. If you do, then you make Jesus the cornerstone of your life. And get this, he calls that a precious stone. Why? It was most precious because, literally, it was the most expensive. It was the most labor-intensive. It was not unusual for a builder to spend as much time finding the cornerstone, quarrying the right kind of stone, and cutting the cornerstone perfectly as the whole rest of the building. God wants us to have the very best. Anything less won’t do. Anything else will not be able to handle all that is coming your way. And…to most parents, what is the most precious thing? Your child. They are invaluable. God gave us the most valuable thing he had, his Son. Are you willing to build your house on him. No one can make that decision for you. You can’t make it for someone else. It’s an individual decision.
The second part of this is that it is corporate as well. God builds his church not with buildings and materials but with people. This is in direct opposition to what the Jews believed. They believed the Temple was the most important thing. But remember in Acts God gives his Holy Spirit to live in us,. The temple is no longer the dwelling place of God, ours hearts are. But collectively, we are the being built together. Eph. 2:21-22:
“In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Eph. 2:21-22
Collectively we are the bride of Christ and the house of the Lord. Peter portrays the fellowship of the church as a living, spiritual house, founded upon Christ. He is the same disciple who was told by Jesus, “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church”. Peter was the first post-resurrection leader of the Church, a key living stone, but he always understood that the foundation and cornerstone of the Church was Christ. Peter understood his call was to build the church.
Bringing the Dead to Life
Now let’s end by focusing on one last interesting thing that Peter says in this passage. He calls Jesus the Living Stone. Obviously this might not make sense in a logical way. Stones are inanimate objects. They have no life in them. They are just a mass of stony material. No life. No breath. No nothing. In a sense you can say they are dead because they have no life in them. Paul wrote in Col. 3:13:
“You were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ.” Col. 2:13
Here is the amazing thing about this; we were dead when we lived in our sinful state. In other words, you were as lifeless as a rock. But that changes. What was dead can come to life. Jesus proved that when he raised Lazarus. He proved that when he conquered death. Dead rocks can come to life. No really. Remember in Luke 19 when Jesus comes riding into Jerusalem and the Pharisees tell Jesus to stop his disciples from shouting praises that Jesus responds by telling them that if they don’t the rocks will cry out. Jesus brings life to dead things. Now here is the really good news and it’s in verse 5:
“…you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house…” vs. 5
Just as Jesus is the living stone, you, also, like living stones are being built into a spiritual house. We take on the character of our foundation. If you truly trust in Jesus, he becomes and is the building block of your life.
Jesus is so precious, everything else that used to look important becomes eternally and utterly worthless. Nothing else matters. Nothing else matters but him. There is nothing you’re scared to death to lose, nothing you’re running scared from. If Jesus becomes the love of your life. If Jesus becomes the love of your life, there’s a freedom unto you who believe he is precious.