Jesus Christ, the Living Stone
In verse 4, Peter says:
1 Peter 2:4 ESV
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious…
As we approach—or draw near—to this living Stone… As—daily and hourly—we draw near to the Rock of our salvation…
Let us feed regularly on the one whom we have come to know as our Saviour and Lord. He is the bread of life. He has provided us with the water of eternal life. Again, he is the one who now provides nourishment for our souls through the living and abiding Word of God.
In this verse, Peter refers to Jesus as ‘the living Stone’—a seeming contradiction, since stones do not live. However, the analogy may be taken from the Old Testament Scriptures. If so, it refers to the permanence, enduring nature, or steadfastness of stone. Therefore, the Lord God is sometimes referred to as the ‘Rock’, the ‘Eternal Rock’, or the ‘Rock of Ages’. Thus Jesus, the Son of God, is referred to as the living Stone—the one who, like his Father, steadfastly endures forever. (Ps. 18:2; Isa. 26:4; cf. Dan. 6:26; 9:15; see also 1 Cor. 10:1-3)
We should note that the one who refers to Jesus as the living Stone or Rock is Peter. The name Peter, of course, means ‘a stone’ or ‘a rock’. Bearing in mind the remarks that passed between Peter and his Lord in Matthew chapter 16 (vv.13-20), it is evident from this passage that the apostle desires to emphasise the pre-eminence of Christ. In Matthew 16:16, Peter had confessed Jesus as ‘the Son of the living God.’ Now, the apostle refers to his Lord and Master as ‘the living Stone.’
This living Stone—Jesus, the Son of God—was indeed rejected, or disallowed, by men. The Old Testament prophets had long foretold this rejection, and Jesus himself had told his followers repeatedly that the people would despise and reject him. He had come to his own, and his own had not received him. All this had been foreknown from eternity, as had his sufferings and death at the hands of sinful men. For, from eternity, God had determined exactly what should happen to his Son to secure the redemption of his people. However, this in no way lessens the guilt and wickedness of those responsible for the Lord’s sufferings and death. (Matt. 21:42-43; John 1:10-11; Acts 3:23)
As the foundation or cornerstone of God’s salvation, Jesus experienced rejection by mankind generally. (However, he was accepted by all those who—by God’s grace—called upon his name.)
Jesus was the chosen Servant of God. He was the one whom God had ordained from the eternal ages to pay the purchase price of redemption. The cost of man’s redemption involved the vicarious sacrifice of Jesus’ own perfect and holy life. From eternity, the Son was dear to the Father’s heart. He was his one and only Son—and therefore was precious in God’s sight. Yet, although God loved his Son, he gave him up for us all: So great was God’s love for the world. (Isa. 42:1; 52:13; John 3:16-18)
In verse 5, and continuing the thought of Jesus as the living Stone, Peter writes:
1 Peter 2:5 ESV
… 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.
We, the believing children of God are also like living stones. We form part of a magnificent temple dedicated to God. Christ is the cornerstone (or foundation stone) of that holy temple. We are the individual stones of the building. God has shaped and formed us by his almighty hand, and he has laid our lives upon the only sure foundation—the Rock of Christ. (Eph. 2:19-22)
On that sure foundation, we are being built up—together with every other truly regenerated child of God—into a most holy place of worship. Indeed, we form not merely an inanimate structure of stone, but a living structure or living temple of God—both collectively as the Church world-wide, and individually as the particular and holy temple of God.
But even more than this, we are not to think of ourselves as forming only the framework of God’s dwelling place in the Spirit, but also as the ones who minister within that holy spiritual sanctuary. (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 2 Cor. 6:16-18) Every redeemed child of God (not just a certain few) is anointed by the Holy Spirit to serve as a spiritual priest before God (the priesthood of all believers). This is evident from the fact that the apostle Peter is addressing his remarks to believers generally—not just to the leadership of the churches. (Rev. 1:6; 5:9-10)
As those whom God has redeemed and sanctified, we have been anointed to present to God spiritual sacrifices. The offerings we present to God must begin with the sacrifice of ourselves. Then, we may continue with the sacrifices of love, praise, worship and thanksgiving.
Blood sacrifices—in any shape or form—are not spiritual sacrifices. They, therefore, have no place in the offerings of believers. One blood sacrifice has already been offered—once-for-all: the sacrifice of the Son of God on the believer’s behalf. The sacrifices now required by God, therefore, are those spiritual sacrifices already mentioned. Presented in and through the merits of Christ our Redeemer, these sacrifices alone are acceptable in God’s sight—together with works pleasing to him. (Ps. 141:2; John 4:23-24; Rom. 12:1; Heb. 13:15-16)
There is, of course, only one mediating Priest recognised by God—Jesus, his Son, who ministers in the heavenly sanctuary or holy of holies. Jesus, the Great High Priest of our profession, is the only Priest who now has the authority or power to mediate before God on the sinner’s behalf—based on his own sprinkled blood.
This is the reason why we can never approach God in any other way, or by any other person, than through his one and only Son. Jesus, and Jesus alone, shed his blood and sprinkled it on and before the heavenly atonement cover (or mercy-seat) in order to open the way into God’s presence. Thus, it is only and exclusively through faith in him, and in his perfect work on the sinner’s behalf, that a sinner can find mercy from—and acceptance by—God. (Heb. 7:23-27; 9:12-28; 10:12,14)
[Excerpt from Expository Notes: 1 Peter (chapter 1 verses 4-5). To read or download the full version of these Notes, click on the NT Commentaries menu tab above.]Follow @gordon_lyons