2017-4-30 Jesus Christ, the Cornerstone

Cornerstone EPC                                                                              Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734                                                                          April 30, 2017

“Jesus Christ, the Cornerstone”
Text: 1 Peter 2:6-8

Last week, as we considered 1 Peter 2:4-5, we noted that Jesus is a living Stone—not only rejected of men, but also chosen and precious to God.  We also noted that we too are living stones—built into a spiritual house.  We are, in fact, a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  This week we note Jesus as the Cornerstone—the foundational stone in the whole spiritual house.  We do this as we hear and consider today’s text.  Hear it—and hear the Lord Himself—as it is read in this place today.

(HERE READ THE TEXT)

Jesus Christ is the Cornerstone.  One cannot state this more simply—nor can on state it more truly.  Let’s look closer at this glorious fact.  First, the fact that Jesus is the Cornerstone fulfills prophecy.  The Holy Spirit, seven hundred years before Jesus’ birth, led Isaiah to write concerning One to come in future years (Isaiah 28:16)—and the same Spirit led Peter to refer it in today’s text.  Isaiah prophetically—and Peter reflectively—refer to Jesus as a cornerstone chosen and precious.  This repeats what we noted earlier, not to mention last week; hence, we shall continue now to the next clause, to wit, “…and whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame.”  Isaiah writes, in place of will not be put to shame, these words: will not be in haste.  The apparent contradiction between Hebrew chush (make haste) and Greek kataischuno (kataiscunw: put to shame) is resolved thus: The sense of the Hebrew verb, in its use in Isaiah 28:16, is that the one trusting in the One to come will not be put to flight, and that in haste, by foes.  Being put to flight in such a manner presumes an accompanying level of shame.  Shame will not come to the one trusting Jesus; hence, no foe shall put him to flight.[1]  Hence, the prophesied, long-awaited Cornerstone, provides deliverance from shame for all who trust in Him.

Second, because Jesus is the Cornerstone, He is foundational to the spiritual house built upon Him.  Foundations fundamental to physical houses; houses slide or crumble when built upon inadequate foundations, and they generally stand firm when built upon adequate foundations.  The same is true of spiritual houses.  Jesus tells us, in his last lesson in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:24-27, cf. ibid, 5:1-7:29), that the one building on the Rock (Who is Jesus) stands, while the one not building on the Rock falls.  For additional support, note Paul’s Spirit-led remark to the Ephesian Christian households (Ephesians ii.20).  Though apostles and prophets serve the spirituial house in a somewhat foundational sense, Christ Jesus alone is the Cornerstone.  Paul makes this point more explicit in his correspondence with the Corinthian Christian households: “No one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians iii.11).  Jesus is the Cornerstone, and it is futile indeed to seek another such cornerstone.

The fact that Jesus is the Cornerstone lands upon the great mass of humanity in one of two ways.  First, this fact is an honor (Greek time [timh]: ti-MAY) to those believing in Him.  Jesus, our Cornerstone, is akin to a laurel for us to wear in view of our victory in Him.  Jesus also has value beyond expression.  He indeed is more precious than silver, more costly than gold, and more beautiful than diamonds.  Nothing we otherwise desire compares to Him.[2]  This is further expressed in two brief parables of Jesus.  “The Kingdom of Heaven,” says Jesus, “is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up.  Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matthew 13:44-45).  Similarly, Jesus continues, “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matthew xiii.46).  In short, Jesus’ value and benefit to us is far beyond mere human estimation.

Second, and alas, this fact that Jesus is the Cornerstone is a stumbling block and offense to those rejecting Him.  Those rejecting belief in Him, and, consequently, rejecting obedience to Him, embrace Him not as Lord and Savior, but hold Him in derision.  The Apostle Peter, led by the Spirit, tells us that for this rejection of Jesus, in God’s secret purpose, they were destined (Greek tithemi [tiqhmi]: put, placed, appointed).  Ours is not to discern the secret judgments of God, but ours, rather, is to entertain a good hope for them, to testify winsomely of His merciful offer extended to us, and to trust Him with the result.  Perhaps some apparently destined to reject Him do not do so finally, but come in due season to faith in the Lord Jesus and repentance unto life before Him.

Jesus, the Cornerstone, our Cornerstone is the living foundation of the spiritual house.  Hence, He is Cornerstone for all of life—and not just for this life, but for eternity as well.  This holds even if some reject the fact with every fiber of their beings.  Consequently, we build on any other foundation, save Christ, but in vain.  Therefore, receive Him by faith, or continue so to do.  In so doing, build your life—and your lives—by the strong aid of the Holy Spirit on Jesus Christ, Who is the Rock, the living Stone, the Cornerstone, our Cornerstone.

AMEN.

[1] For the Hebrew lexical data, I am indebted to Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon: With an Appendix Containing the Biblical Aramaic (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, and Company, 1906, reprint, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, n. d.).  For the Greek lexical data, I am indebted to Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida, eds., Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1989).

[2] “More Precious Than Silver,” words and music by Lynn DeShazo.  Copyright 1979 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music.

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