Sermon 5.14.17 Easter 5

1 Peter 2:4-10    Easter 5   
Pastor Kenneth Frey    5/14/17

1 Peter 2:4-10  As you come to him, the Living Stone, rejected by men but chosen by God and precious, 5you also, like living stones, are being built as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, in order to bring spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For it says in Scripture:  See, I lay a stone in Zion, A chosen and precious cornerstone, And the one who believes in him will certainly not be put to shame.  7Therefore, for you who believe, this is an honor. But for those who do not believe: The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone, and a stone over which they stumble and a rock over which they fall.  8Because they continue to disobey the word, they stumble over it. And that is the consequence appointed for them.  9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, the people who are God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10At one time you were not a people, but now you are the people of God. At one time you were not shown mercy, but now you have been shown mercy.

Living Stones

1.  The Living Stone

2.  Living Stones

In 1871 Sir Henry Morton Stanley pushed into the interior of Africa looking into the interior of Africa looking for an explorer who was thought to be lost.  On the shores of Lake Tanganyika he found him.  As he shook hands he said the now famous words, “Dr. Livingstone I presume?”  Livingstone was his name.  .  .  .  David Livingstone to be exact.

Living stone is also your name.  And you can say the same thing Stanley said.  As you look around you this morning, you can say, “Living stones, I presume.”  What a great way to see our fellow believers in Jesus.  We are living stones.

That’s what Peter teaches in this section of his letter.  As you come to him, the Living Stone, rejected by men but chosen by God and precious, 5you also, like living stones, are being built as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, in order to bring spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  Foundations are the most important part of home construction.  If the foundation is bad, the whole house will have problems.  Jesus is described as the cornerstone.  This would have been the first stone masons would place in position when building.  It was the stone that would govern the angles of the walls.  So, if the masons didn’t choose wisely, the whole building would be out of square and may not stand for long.  

In eternity, God chose his Son to be the cornerstone and foundation of our salvation.  Anyone who wants to survive death and live in the eternal happiness of heaven must build their life on Jesus.  Jesus is the Living Stone.

6For it says in Scripture:  See, I lay a stone in Zion, A chosen and precious cornerstone, And the one who believes in him will certainly not be put to shame.  Believing in Jesus we will not be put to shame because salvation is found in no one else.  By faith we are placed on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ and our salvation is sure.

Unfortunately, not everyone sees this.  7Therefore, for you who believe, this is an honor. But for those who do not believe: The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone, and a stone over which they stumble and a rock over which they fall.  8Because they continue to disobey the word, they stumble over it. And that is the consequence appointed for them.  Have you ever watched a carpenter at work?  When he needs a board, he will look down the board to see if it straight.  He will look to see if there are too many knotholes in the board that would ruin his work.  

When people examine Christ, he doesn’t fit the plans they have drawn up for building their salvation.  They want to build on themselves and their own goodness.  They want a guru or guide to help them do what’s in them.  They want to think that they are doing something to bring about their salvation.  A Savior from sin doesn’t fit the blueprints of how they want to build their salvation so they reject him.  To the world Jesus is a square peg for a round hole.  He doesn’t work for them.  

But Jesus is the Living Stone, the only way of salvation.  He is the chosen and precious cornerstone of faith and salvation.  How many of you could tell a real diamond from a fake one?  How many can tell when a diamond has been cut correctly or cut poorly?  If a jeweler slipped a lesser quality stone into your ring, would you even know it?  How could you tell?  You would need to learn a lot more about diamonds to really know the difference.  

Jesus is the Living Stone.  He is precious and valuable, but could we be fooled by a lesser quality substitute?  Could we fail to recognize the real gospel from fakes?  That can happen if we aren’t continually learning the gospel and getting to know Jesus.  People who reject Jesus, who don’t know the value of the gospel and the Savior, surround us.  We need to stay in the Word or we could begin to forget just how precious and valuable Jesus is for our eternal life.  

Jesus is the Living Stone.  But we are living stones, too, built on him.  Peter said, You also, like living stones, are being built as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, in order to bring spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  That wasn’t always the case.  Peter said, At one time you were not a people, but now you are the people of God. At one time you were not shown mercy, but now you have been shown mercy.  Who were you?  We were nothing.  Worse than nothing, we were without hope and without God in the world.  Our only interest was to satisfy our sinful desires and ambitions.  We were blind to anything of any spiritual worth.  We were zombies, walking dead.  We looked alive on the outside but inside nothing but death and filth.  We were nothing more than fodder for the fires of hell.  

The prophet Hosea in the Old Testament had a difficult ministry to Israel.  In fact, God commanded him to name his children with names that symbolized God’s message to them.  One child was called Lo-Ruhammah, which means:  Not Loved.  Another was called Lo-Ammi, which means:  Not my people.  How would you like to live with names like that?  But God was making a point about Israel.  Because they had rejected his word, his law and his covenant, God was rejecting them.  They were no longer his people.

We were not God’s people.  We were enemies of God and aliens to the truth. We were Lo-Ammi, not my people.  Now we are his people . . . and his priests.  But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, the people who are God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.  God called us out of darkness, Peter tells us.  On cattle ranches out west, in the spring ranchers have a roundup. They go throughout their vast ranges and find the cattle scattered during winter grazing.  Many of the cows would have had calves also.  So when they gathered the cows together, they would need to separate the calves from their mothers in order to brand them.  The cowboys would ride into the herd and separate the calves from the mothers.  When they had them cut out from the herd, then they could rope them and brand them.  

This is what the Holy Spirit has done with us.  Not with horses, but with the gospel, the Holy Spirit has called us out from the herd of humanity.  He has brought us out of the darkness of unbelief and opened our blind eyes to the forgiveness and salvation we have in Christ.  He branded us in Holy Baptism, putting his seal and name on us. 

We who were stone dead in sin have been made living stones by Christ.  His blood has washed away our sins.  His death has taken away our death.  His resurrection has given us life.  We were dead stones.  Now we are living stones, fit for God’s building. 

God is fitting us together to build his house.  He has put us into close contact with each other that I may support you and you may support me.  But because we all still have our jagged edged sinful natures we’re going to rub each other the wrong way from time to time.  We’re going to find ourselves wondering why others aren’t more responsible like us, or more creative, or more friendly, or spontaneous, or whatever.  But Peter didn’t say that God made us living bricks, each a copy of the other.  We’re living stones, each of us unique, but each of us with its place in this spiritual house built on the Living Stone, Jesus.  

Each of you is a gem, a jewel and precious living stone in God’s temple.  There is no excuse for laziness or self-pity thinking we have nothing to offer our fellow living stones.  You already shine with God’s love.  Simply direct that love at others and so they may see God’s brilliance. Each of us is called to may proclaim the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.  We call that the priesthood of believers.  Each of us has the right and responsibility to share God’s truth with others.  

On this Mother’s Day, we especially rejoice in those mothers who have declared the praises of God to the next generation.  We thank God for those mothers who teach their children to pray and who share Bible stories and devotions with them.  They are living stones declaring the praises of Jesus.  They give us an example of how we too can all fulfill our purpose as living stones by using the opportunities to share God’s praises with others. 

Today Peter is reminding us who we are.  We were nothing.  We were dead.  Now we are alive in Christ.  We are living stones built on the Living Stone, Jesus Christ.  May we continue to stand in faith on the Living Stone and offer our spiritual sacrifices of praise to the glory of Jesus, our Savior.