Stumbling over stones

1 Peter 2:4-10

Jerry A Collins




v          Are you willing to pursue the holy life?

v          What does it mean to be a royal priesthood?

v          Why is Jesus a stone of stumbling to unbelievers?


Within the past ten days I have been able to hold a one year old baby girl who was adorable. Then I was also able to handle a three year old boy. Both of these kids were precious and fun to see for a little while. Now it would be odd to have done this with someone who is 21 let’s say. Treating them like a baby or a toddler would be a bit weird. Well, spiritually we all have experienced the grace of God in our new birth. We began our spiritual journey as newborn babes. But it would be a bit strange to have stayed there. No longer babies, we are to grow up together to do the things that a spiritually growing child now does. For sure, our new identity requires that we crave the milk of the Word. But eventually that new identity matures into offering spiritual sacrifices, becoming a new spiritual house and to manifest the moral and spiritual excellencies of the Lord. So Peter explains what our new identity is to mature into.


Coming This is the intimate association we have with Christ in prayer, fellowship, praise and worship. This is our life and the idea is that it is what we personally and habitually do as Christ-followers. This is not just the initial coming at salvation.

Living This is the third in a series of things which are ‘living’. 1:3 ‘living hope; 1:23 ‘living Word; 2:4 ‘living stone’ and anything associated with Jesus Christ is alive not dead. That includes our fellowship with Him. We keep on coming to this ‘living stone’ all of our lives. This stone has life in itself and then gives life to others. So, people enter into a vital life-giving relationship with this living stone. Jesus is alive! The imagery of a stone will be developed but is the basis for the argument he makes that we who are in Christ are being built into something associated with the living stone. Rejected Twice it is stated that this ‘living stone’ was rejected by men vs 4 & 7. First it is stated as fact and then an OT passage is summoned to verify it and adds that not just any men but builders rejected this stone. The passage is from Psalm 118: 22. This is the case against ‘unbelievers vs 7b. The application is explicit in Acts 4:11 where Peter and John reply to the Sanhedrin’s inquisition that the healing was effected ‘by the name of Jesus Christ’ and adds ‘This is the stone which was rejected by you builders but which has become the head of the corner.’

Chosen In significant contrast, God chose Him and holds Him precious and immensely valuable. We, too, in 5a, related to Christ by faith and blood are also ‘living stones’. He is a living stone and we are as living stones. As such, we are like a building rising by the addition of each new stone building into a ‘spiritual house’. The result is a holy temple for God to dwell in and to be worshipped in. Peter sees that prophesied building process actually going on ‘on this rock I will build my church’ Mt 16:18. We make up this temple but we also function as a holy priesthood making acceptable sacrifices. (1) Priests approach God by offering up spiritual sacrifices. But not just any kind-only those acceptable to God thru Jesus Christ. Not even what we think is a good sacrifice like Cain did. Those prescribed by God in His Word not conjured up by man. No matter our liturgy or traditions, they are not part of our priesthood unless prescribed by God in His Word. (2) Priests proclaim God’s excellencies vs 9. The focus here too is vertical. It looks to Him who has called you. So, the priesthood is about the presentation of an acceptable sacrifice to God and the proclamation of the excellencies of God to the world. Our ministry must flow out of our priesthood not our. It is our vertical responsibility to God which governs our horizontal ministry to everyone else not vice-versa-God’s best interests is served.


Foundation-stone Peter marshals OT passages about Jesus as the living cornerstone Isa 28:16 vs 6. For believers Christ is God’s great cornerstone for the church. By Him, God measures all things and fixes the ultimate standard for all who come to Him. This cornerstone is so magnificent, so sturdy that all who believe and rely upon it will in no way ever be disappointed or ever put to shame. The laying of this stone began in Zion—the church was founded in Jerusalem but not limited to that city but is a world-wide structure in which God dwells. If there is a foundation stone there must also be a building resting upon it and relying upon that chief stone.  Rejected stone For unbelievers it is an entirely different story vs 7-8. Ultimate value for a believer 7a, has become a stone of stumbling for unbelievers vs 8. Isa 8:14 Israel refused the gospel. This cornerstone proves a dangerous obstacle and is fatal to them. This fatality is connected to their disobeying the message Jesus Himself delivered. So fatal, in fact, that they are destined for a stumbling leading to eternal condemnation Rom 9:22ff. The nation was led to it’s calamity by the chief priest, Pharisees, elders, scribes and Sadducees—all rejecting Christ’s testimony. Today, unbelief stumbles over Christ. As long as Jesus Christ is kept out of the discussion about religion and faith there is no problem.


Chosen ‘But You’ is emphatic and another contrast between unbeliever and believer is significant. Instead of doom we are chosen people Isa 43:20. Usually applied to Israel, the church is to be and do what God intended for Israel. The responsibility once Israel’s has now during this age been given to the church. Ex 19:9 Moses called Israel a ‘a kingdom of priests and a holy nation’. Now the greatness of our privileges is best seen in the light of the fate of others—those stumbling and appointed to destruction! We are in contrast (1) God has chosen us (2) God has privileged us (3) God has sanctified us (4) God possesses us. And the purpose: an exhibition, proclamation of the Lord’s character. Believers are a special people God has preserved to Himself. There is a future for Israel again but not now and not yet. So we live in way God’s qualities are on display in our lives. This becomes a witness of God’s grace—the kind that marked us as ones out of darkness—ignorance of sin and God’s provision—into His great light of revelation. We can now see what God has done for us—we received mercy as His people. We did not have it before so we now offer spiritual sacrifices, display His goodness as His own people.

1. Our goal in life should be to make sacrifices that God is pleased with. Some of those include our bodies Rom 12; praise Heb 13:15; good works Phil 2:17; money Heb 13:16. The greater your maturity the greater your sacrificial giving. Godly people are givers.

2. Don’t stumble over anything Christ demands of you. Anything He demands of you will always be to serve your bests interests. There is no disappointment in following Him.

(3) Make sure that everything in your life displays the character of God as revealed to us in the Bible. What can people say about God as a result of the way you conduct life.