The Lord’s Message:  What a Difference Easter Makes – Living Stones

The Lord’s Message:  What a Difference Easter Makes – Living Stones
Date:  April 30, 2023
Where:  Tilghman UMC
Scripture Reference:  1 Peter 2:4-10

            This is our third message in the sermon series What a Difference Easter Makes.  The first message was on Eternal Hope.  We have a hope in eternity that the Lord Jesus Christ is returning upon the earth someday to take all the believers on with Him and God in the new Heaven and Earth.  We also have eternal hope that if we die, or our loved ones who believe in Jesus die, before He returns that our souls will be with God in Heaven.  The second message is that God calls us to Holiness.  Now that Easter has occurred, the Lord Jesus Christ has risen from the grave. God calls us to be set apart from the rest of the world.  Our thoughts and actions should show the love of God living in us.  The reason for this is so that others will come to know God through us and accept Him into their hearts.  All of us will sin and all of us will be judge by our actions or inactions.  Those that believe in Jesus will enter into heaven.  Those that do not believe in Jesus will be removed from the presence of God and enter into hell.  The choice is up to us.  God loves us so much that He would not force people to accept Him.  We must choose to do that.  The third message is very peculiar.  Peter is telling us that because of Easter we are now to be living stones.  We are going to explore what that means.

            Let us pray. 

            What thoughts come to your mind when you think of the word stone?  Something that is hard.  Not easy to mold or shape.  Not easily moved.  Dense.  Not easy to break.  Peter first describes Jesus as a living stone and later on all of us as living stones. 

            Let us open our Bibles to 1 Peter 2:4.  I will be using the Common English Bible.  Peter states Jesus is the living stone.  This shows Jesus’ invincible strength and his everlasting duration.  He is the foundation on which all people should build their faith.  Instead, He was rejected by the ones that He came to save.  Us.  Jesus faced rejection the entire time He was upon this earth.  King Herod tried to kill him because King Herod rejected Jesus’ kingship.  The Jewish priest rejected Him because Jesus rejected their authority over Him.  In John 7:5, his own brothers rejected Jesus.  The people that He grew up with rejected Jesus and tried to throw Him off a cliff, Luke 4:28-30.  They mocked and ridiculed Jesus as He was nailed to the cross and dying for their, yours and my sins, Matthew 27:39-44.  Everyone on earth rejected Jesus, but God considers Him chosen and valuable.  God chose Jesus before the creation of the world to redeem us.  This was the only way that Holy God could redeem sinful people.  Through His only Son, Jesus, who is fully human and fully God, Jesus became the atonement for our sins.  Atonement means to take the place of. 

            Those of us who have come to believe in Jesus now consider Him more valuable than all the riches in the universe.  Jesus is the foundation of our faith.  If you have ever built a house or a building, you know the foundation is the most important part of the structure.  That is why architects do soil analysis to find out whether the soil will support the structure.  For large structures they want to build on bedrock.  We want to build our faith on Jesus, the living stone. 

            Peter continues in verse 5a with this theme, by having Jesus as the foundation, we are now called to be living stones built upon Christ.  Peter may have remembered what Jesus had said about him in Matthew 16:18.  The structure that is being built is a “spiritual temple.”  A temple that is more marvelous than Solomon’s or Herod’s temple.  A temple that is not built with ordinary building materials, but one that is built upon faith. 

            If you have a temple then you must have priests.  Peter continues in 5b with describing all the faithful believers as priests.  Every one of you who believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior are priests.  All of us are called to offer our sacrifices of our lives to God.  This is doctrinal.  The doctrine is the Priesthood of All Believers.  This doctrine states, “all believers in Christ share in His priestly status; therefore, there is no special class of people who mediate the knowledge, presence, and forgiveness of Christ to the rest of believers, and all believers have the right and authority to read, interpret, and apply the teachings of Scripture.”  All Christians are a holy priesthood.  All Christians should be willing and must offer spiritual sacrifices to God.  These spiritual sacrifices are only acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 

Peter says that we are being built into a spiritual temple.  As a spiritual temple, we need to constantly have guidance for who we should be worshipping.  If not, then we become like sheep and go astray.  That is why Peter quotes Isaiah 28:16  to gives us this guidance.  We have a cornerstone.  I want you to first notice who is laying this cornerstone.  It is not Isaiah.  It is not you and I.  It is God.  God using the “I am” language, the same language that He told Moses in Exodus 19:13-15 to use when the people ask who is sending you to us.  I Am Who I Am.  God is laying the cornerstone for this spiritual temple.  If anyone else is laying the cornerstone for our faith, then it is going to be like “sinking sand.”  If we try to place our faith on anything or anybody else, our foundation of faith is going to shatter into a million pieces. 

The purpose of the cornerstone is to for all other stones to be laid in reference and connected together.  The cornerstone is inseparably connected to the building.  It supports, unites it and adorns it.  It marks the geographical location by orienting a building in a specific direction.  If the cornerstone on this building is not on the right front corner, then this building is oriented in a different direction.  If our cornerstone is not Jesus, then we are easily oriented away from God.

            Peter now turns our attention to those who do not believe, starting in verse 7. This is quote from Psalm 118:22.  For believers, Jesus is the foundation stone for our faith.  For unbelievers, in verse 8, it is the stumbling block that causes them to fall.  Their rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ leads to their downfall, their eternity away from God, hell.  This is quote from Isaiah 8:14

            Peter’s terminology changes to chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation in verse 9.  This takes us back to God’s fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant.  In Genesis 12:1-3, is the covenant that God made with Abraham.  All true servants of Christ are a royal priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices to God that are made acceptable by Jesus.  All Christians are a holy nation.  We are set apart from the rest of the world.  We should consider this an honor, not that we are glorified, but that Jesus is glorified.  We were called out of the darkness in the light and love of God through Jesus.  We should tell the world what God has done for us.  We need to remember that Peter is writing this to people that are facing persecution.  He is telling them, not to worry about that.  Continue to proclaim the Good News.  Continue to live as God’s royal priesthood, His chosen nation.  So, that the world will know the love of God. 

            Peter reminds us in verse 10, not to think too highly of ourselves, because at one time we were so far from God that we were not considered to be God’s own people.  Now, we have received mercy and grace, we are God’s possession.  We are living stones.  It is because of Jesus.  It is because of Easter, that God has now made us into living stones.  Amen.

May 1, 2023 11:43 am