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, but for those who do not believe,
“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”
“A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.”
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
1 Peter 2:6–8 (ESV)
We have all heard the following statement: “This thing will change your life!” Oftentimes, unfortunately, this is said in the middle of an advertisement for something which you could genuinely live without, and which does not modify your life to any significant degree. This is what we call false advertising. However, sometimes you do come across something (or in our case, Someone), who changes your life entirely.
In our section today, Peter wants the elect exiles to understand the importance of their newfound relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. If it is truly desirable to have friends in high places, it must be terrifying to have enemies in those same high places. Yet, in our section today, Peter shows that Jesus Christ is the Friend in the highest place to the believers, and the worst possible enemy to the non-believer. It is in this order that we shall examine our passage today.
Firstly, consider how the Lord Jesus Christ is the most glorious Friend in the highest place. Peter continues with the theme of God’s temple into which the believers are being built up in their Union with Christ. Here we see the significance of this union with their Master. As they are being built up into “a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (Verse 5), they are being constructed on a firm foundation, a rock that is tried and tested: Jesus Christ, the Cornerstone.
Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, quotes from Isaiah 28:16 in which the Lord rebukes the rulers of Jerusalem for looking to themselves and to their weak plans as their source of assurance, instead of turning to Him for their safety and protection. The LORD, referencing Christ, informs them that He is setting up a Cornerstone in Zion which will be the hope for all who believe. That Cornerstone is “chosen and precious,” and is the only way to escape from God’s wrath and to be built up into the dwelling place of God (hence the temple image). Much in the same way, people today might be tempted to look upon their own efforts and behavior to get right with God, but the Lord reminds us that it is only those who “believe in Him” who will “not be put to shame.” This is why Peter writes that “the honor is for you who believe.”
Conversely, notice what this Cornerstone is to the one who does not believe. “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” While Christ is the symbol of hope for the believers, He is the ultimate symbol of Judgment for those who reject Him. And truthfully, He is not merely a symbol! He is the One who saves through His life, death, resurrection and eternal reign, drawing men to faith through the working of His Holy Spirit. But He is also the One who has been appointed as the judge of all the earth. To the one who disobeys the word, He is “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.” Either way, the Lord Jesus is the One who truly changes our lives. He either saves us now when we come to Him by faith, or condemns us later when we meet Him in judgment.
For the believer, there is no greater news than that Jesus is the Judge of all the earth. For He will vindicate His own people. He is the Cornerstone upon which we are built and He can never be shaken. But for the non-believer, there is no greater terror than for your enemy to be the Almighty God of all the universe. He is the stone of stumbling and rock of offense who crushes all who are in rebellion against Him. Turn now, this very day. Abandon your rebellion. Flee to the Lord in repentance, believing that only Jesus can save you. If you do, He will truly change your life!
What is your hope when you finally breathe your last and stand before the Judge of all the earth? Will you be among those who are built on the Cornerstone, or those who are crushed by the Rock of offense?