1 Peter 2:4-8 Sermon – Jesus our Cornerstone

OK, We are looking at Peter’s letter to these churches that had emerged through the early missionary work of the Apostles… 

  • That is, people like Peter who had been with Jesus and were sent to tell the good news of the gospel…
  • Peter greeted the churches at the start of the letter with “grace and peace be yours in abundance.”
  • This was his story… he had been called by Jesus to be the rock upon which the church would be built…

And despite some wobbles… he had been filled with the Holy Spirit after the resurrection

  • And became an Apostle of grace and peace to the cities of the world. 
  • So this letter is written to churches that had been established in 5 different provinces of the Roman Empire. 
  • Amazing to think just how far and wide the church grew within that first generation of eye witness who had been with Jesus and went out to share the good news!

So last week he told them to grow up in their salvation.

  • Good old straight shooting… grow up!
  • Verse 3; “Now that you have tasted that the Lord is good”, verse 2, “crave pure spiritual milk so that by it, you may grow up in your salvation…”
  • And that is part of why we do these next steps Sundays… because between your baptism and your death… we need to keep growing… 
  • Keep serving, keep in community, keep growing as disciples… ok?
  • And now Peter describes how the church grows with Jesus as the cornerstone and us as living stones, becoming a spiritual house…

Read 1 Peter 2:4-8 (Sydney Smith)

4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 

7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 

8 and, “A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

So 3 things today…

  1.  Jesus is the cornerstone of the church – our foundation.
  2. We are living stones being built into a spiritual house.
  3. Our purpose is to be a holy priesthood who offer our lives to God and mediate his blessings to the world. 

So firstly, Jesus is the cornerstone of the church, our foundation. 

  • He is described in verse 4 as THE Living Stone
  • He is described in verse 6 as a chosen and precious cornerstone
  • He is described in verse 7 as the stone the builders rejected that has become the cornerstone. 

Now what is this all about?

  • We sing this in that belter of a song Cornerstone…
  • My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus blood and righteousness…”
  • “Christ alone… cornerstone.”
  • And I assume in our minds, we all understand this to be saying something about Jesus being the rock, or stone upon which we build our lives?
  • But, this idea in building a house or a temple or a church, is that there is a foundational stone that is key to everything else that is to be built upon it!
  • It sets the design and direction of the building and everything is built on top and around this cornerstone!
  • It is laid first… then the builder adds to it!

Well for Peter this idea of Jesus being a cornerstone upon which the church and indeed our lives are built was a recurring theme through his ministry.

  • Indeed he is quoting here from the Psalms and Isaiah, this idea that a messiah would come who many would reject, but who would be God’s true cornerstone. 
  • Jesus in Matthew 21 actually quotes this same Psalm – Psalm 118 to talk about his own life and ministry…
  • Mathew 21:42 Jesus says; “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone”
  • And then Peter in the Book of Acts… again trying to make sense of why many rejected Jesus and crucified him… he preaches this amazing sermon… and he quote Psalm 118.
  • So Acts 4:10-12 Peter says; “know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else.”

And now, 30 years later, the same Peter who preached at Pentecost is still on the same theme…

  • Jesus is the cornerstone of the church and foundation upon which we build our new lives. 
  • He binds the whole church together. 
  • He is described by Peter as chosen by the Father, precious and raised from the dead in victory!
  • But this prophecy from Psalm 118 that Jesus fulfilled also makes clear that he was not the kind of messiah the people were expecting so they stumbled over him. 
  • Of course people still stumble over Jesus today. Some receive him, but many reject him. 

Peter’s mate Paul kind of picks up on this in 1 Corinthians 1:18, then 22-24

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 

22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.

So there is the contrast… foolishness to some… but to us who God has saved, this Jesus is the wisdom and power of God. 

  • You know, I think of two famous brothers… both intellectuals in the public sphere…
  • Christopher Hitchens and Peter Hitchens…
  • Christopher Hitchens famously ridiculed the Christian faith and debated Christian thinkers, trying to argue that religion poisons everything…
  • He thought the Christian faith was foolish and took every opportunity as a journalist, author and speaker to trash Jesus and the church.
  • He famously said “Jesus is Santa Clause for adults.” 
  • Actually that is probably one of the more mild things he said. 

But then his brother Peter Hitchens who also is a journalist, an author and a speaker went in a very different direction to his brother. 

  • He too was an atheist, but then converted to Christianity… 
  • In his book “The Rage Against God” he defends the faith against its detractors and critiques the straw men arguments of the New Atheists like his brother.
  • I remember watching Q&A on the ABC a few years ago and it was during the festival of dangerous ideas… 

An audience member asked what dangerous idea if implemented would change the world for the better.

  • One idiot panel member responded with forced population control for the next 30 years….
  • Then Peter Hitchens was asked the same question…
  • He said this “The most dangerous idea in human history remains the belief that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and rose from the dead.”
  • Pressed on why he responded “It alters the whole of human behaviour and all our responsibilities and turns the universe from a meaningless chaos into a designed place where there is justice and there is hope.”

So to one brother… Christ is foolishness and weakness, but to the other Jesus is the wisdom and power of God.

  • To one a stumbling block
  • To the other the cornerstone 
  • Amen? Who is Jesus to you?

OK, moving on, despite opposition, remember Jesus said in Matt 16:18 “I will build my church” 

  • And every time someone like you and I comes to faith in Jesus another living stone is quarried out of sin and darkness by love and grace and added into this spiritual house, which God is building out of people. 
  • What a privilege to be a part of his church 
  • We could be described as a habitation of God through his Spirit.

So how does Jesus build his church – well he does it with living stones. 

  • With people like you and me who are filled with the Spirit of God.
  • We are dead in our sins, and then through faith in Jesus we become alive in Christ. 
  • Verse 5 “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house.”

Now… I love this building… and I love church buildings in general.

  • They are very pretty… high ceilings, stained glass windows, big maintenance bills…
  • But seriously, I do think they often are sacred places in the midst of our culture and world…
  • Years of prayer and bible reading, and preaching, and conversions and baptisms…
  • They become almost like thin places between heaven and earth….

But the first Christians didn’t get their own buildings to what year? Any guesses?

  • Well the first purpose built church was built in Jordan around the year 293.
  • And then serious church building only really got started after 330…
  • So 300 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection….
  • So when Jesus said he would build his church, clearly he wasn’t thinking about a building campaign… 
  • Clearly the intention of Jesus building his church was to be with people. With living stones!

So this thing God is building… is the church… but it is not made of clay bricks… but spirit filled disciples… 

  • You’ve been made alive by the Holy Spirit, rebirthed, and are now a building block of the church God is building.
  • That is why I really don’t think there is any such thing as solo Christianity. 
  • It is a team sport… we are in this together, being built together into something useful by God. 
  • Just as Jesus is described as precious and chosen.
  • You are precious and chosen by God to be a part of what he is building. 

And the idea is that just as people would meet God in the Old Testament at the temple…

  • That God would use you and I as a place where people will encounter his presence. 
  • In the Old Testament, his glory dwelt in the temple… in the stones… in the building…
  • Now his glory dwells by his Holy Spirit in you and me.
  • And so the only way the world will know God is through his people, his living stones…
  • We are a display of his glory. 
  • Right? His glory was in the temple. His glory was in Jesus. Now his glory lives in you and me. 

Now to me, that strikes right to the heart of why we should gather… 

  • Because surely if we are living stones, then God is here.
  • And that is where I want to be. 

There is this great scene with Peter in the Book of Acts, chapter 4… in fact it is the same passage that we looked at before when Peter quotes Psalm 118 about Jesus being the cornerstone.

  • Anyhow, that happens in a sermon Peter gives in response to being seized and put in jail.
  • Why? Because he had preached about Jesus, and then healed a lame man who had got up and walked.
  • Anyhow eventually he goes back to the other believers when they release him.
  • And this is what happens…
  • Verse 31 “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”
  • Next we read they shared their possessions so that no one was needy. 


  • This is what happens when living stones get together…
  • God moves! People come to faith. The word is preached boldly. 
  • People get healed. People are moved in compassion towards acts of generosity.
  • This is the church that Jesus promised that he would build. 

You know this physical church has got some bits that are falling apart that we need to get fixed…

  • Just on Friday I was up on a ladder in here looking at some decaying bits… Todd thought the whole thing was very funny…
  • And God’s church (his living stones) is far from perfect too and has bits that are falling apart…
  • But be under know illusions… God will build his church!
  • There is 2.3 billion of us alive today… we’re in every country on earth…
  • We may be struggling a bit in the West… but be under no illusions… the church is growing
  • A mighty spiritual house is arising!

Finally, our purpose as living stones is to be a holy priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices… 

  • Verse 5 “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
  • So what does this mean that all of us are a holy priesthood?

Well in the Old Testament the priesthood mediated the covenant and blessings of God… 

  • They acted in between God and the rest of us…
  • Now I really should do a whole sermon on this… and I probably will when I get back from Byron… 
  • But even in Exodus 19:6 God says to his people; “the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
  • So the purpose of his people was to mediate his blessing to godless nations

Think Gen 12:2-3 and God’s call on to Abraham about who his family will be…

  • The Lord God says to Abraham…

“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

This whole story that we have been swept up into as living stones is about being blessed by God in order to bless all peoples on earth through us. 

  • Now that sounds grandiose… but friends that is the whole point of this whole Jesus thing
  • That we might become part of God’s people and then mediate the blessing we have received to the rest of the world. 
  • Now in the Old Testament they got corrupted by the nations around them… 
  • And ended up like the nations around them…
  • And the problem can be the same for us too… 
  • We need contact without contamination. 
  • We need to be a holy priesthood who mediate the blessings of God
  • Without being shaped more by the world than our shaping of the world. 

Now I have to finish there because its school holidays and the kids are in…

  • But guys, each ministry we serve in for his glory is a service to God. 
  • It’s a spiritual sacrifice.
  • Every resource we give to the church and the poor is a spiritual sacrifice to God…
  • When we use our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit rather than given in to whatever desires… that is a spiritual sacrifice… 
  • When we choose the way of loving each other deeply, that is our spiritual sacrifice… 
  • When we worship with real devotion… you get the idea…

So let’s do this Manly Life

  • Our church built on the cornerstone of Jesus…
  • Becoming living stones that are filled with the glory of God
  • We become like priests, mediating the blessings of God to a dying world around us…
  • So what is your next steps?
  • Go through the form and my hopes…

Published by timgiovanelli

My wife Victoria and I are planting a new church in Manly, NSW

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