“As you come to Him” (2 of 4)
1 Peter 2:1-5 ESV
1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. ESV
In our previous post we took note that there are two parties involved in this “coming”. There are those who do the coming because Peter says: “As you come” so we’ll need to consider “Those who come”. Now, quite often when we speak of “coming” we’re referring to coming to a place or to a thing or even to an idea but in this instance we see that Peter is speaking of people coming to a person because he says: “As you come to him”. There’s a second party involved in this coming and that is the one to whom we come.
Peter is talking about people coming to a person. So, we’ll also need to consider “The one to whom we come”. He tells us more about the person to whom we come as he continues in verse 4 by saying that He is “a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious”. He then goes on to tell us more about the people who come to Him and the result of their coming to Him in verse 5 where he says: “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”.
We’ll leave our consideration of what Peter says about those who come and what happens when they come until next time.
It’s my intention to consider the four aspects of Peter’s thought beginning the first aspect:
1. The nature of this coming
2. The One to whom we come
3. Man’s evaluation of Him
4. God’s estimation of Him
Today, we’re going to concentrate on what Peter says about:
The one to whom we come
We see what Peter said about the one to whom we come in verse 4. Having said “As you come to him”, before going on to say what happens when you come to Him, he mentions, almost in parenthesis, that the one to whom we come is: “a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious”.
In saying that, Peter clearly had various passages of Old Testament Scripture in mind because he goes on to quote some in the verses that follow. In verse 6 we read: “For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame””. That’s quoting Isaiah 28v16. In verse 7 he quotes: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone”. That comes from Psalm 118v22. Then, in verse 8 he quotes: “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense”. That comes from Isaiah 8v14.
You can clearly see how those passages have informed what Peter has said about the one to whom we come as being “a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious”. We’ll use three headings in considering those words about the one to whom we come. In those words we see:
- Peter’s description of Him
- Man’s evaluation of Him
- God’s estimation of Him
So, let us move on to consider:
Peter’s description of Him
We’ve recently had the Glastonbury Festival and one of the headline acts were the Rolling Stones. Well, Peter describes the one to whom we come, not as a Rolling Stone but as “a living stone”. That is a very bold and striking metaphor. After all, literal stones are far from living. We use expressions like “stone dead” and “it’s like getting blood from a stone” because you can’t get anything much more lifeless than stone.
Peter didn’t make up this picture or image of a stone for himself.
As we’ve seen from the verses he goes on to quote, he was using an image that is frequently found in the Old Testament scriptures. So, the source of this “stone” image that he’s using isn’t his own imagination but the Word of God. Now, those references that he quotes were generally understood by Jewish scholars and interpreters to be Messianic texts. That is, they took the “stone” that was mentioned to be a reference to the promised Messiah. So, when Peter says “As you come to him, a living stone”, he is saying “as you come to the long promised Jewish Messiah”. Now, Peter’s readers had tasted that the Lord Jesus Christ is good and were commanded to desire Him and so continually come to Him. Is Peter right to equate Jesus with this “stone” that represented the promised Messiah?
Well, that’s exactly what Jesus Himself did.
We read earlier from Matthew 21 where we saw the parable that Jesus told about the tenants and the vineyard. It’s surely very clear there that the master who planted the vineyard in that parable represents God. The vineyard that the master planted represented the nation of Israel that God Himself formed to be His chosen people. The various servants who were sent by the master and susbsequently killed by the tenants were the prophets who were sent by God over the years and who were consistently ignored and rejected by Israel. Then, when the master finally sent his own son, the tenants went ahead and killed him too. The master’s son represented Jesus Himself as the Son of God who had been sent to the Jews but was going to be rejected and put to death by them.
At that point Jesus stopped telling the parable and said: “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes’?” He was quoting Psalm 118v22 and His point was that, in being put to death as He’d mentioned in the parable, He was “The stone that the builders rejected”. He fulfilled that prophecy. Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah who was depicted as “The stone”.
Peter himself had followed the lead of Jesus when he addressed the Sanhedrin when he and John were hauled before them for healing the lame man in the name of Jesus Christ. We’re told in Acts 4v8: “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them” and what he went on to say in the power of the Holy Spirit in verses 10 to 11 was: “let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved””.
You see, he stated categorically that “This Jesus is the stone” and that is the stone that represented the Messiah in Psalm 118 and elsewhere in the Old Testament. So, the one to whom we come is the promised Messiah.
In those Old Testament verses the Messiah is referred to simply as a stone but Peter has added to that description here in 1 Peter 2 by referring to Him as “a living stone”. What is the significance of that? Well, in Peter’s speech to the Sanhedrin he’d referred to “Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead” so we could perhaps take “living stone” to be a reference to Jesus having been resurrected. He is risen from the dead and alive forevermore and able to give eternal life.
I’m sure that’s an important part of it but I also think that there’s more that we need to consider. You see, the Old Testament references to Jesus the Messiah as a stone are in the context of building work. In Isaiah 28v16, as quoted by Peter in verse 6, God said: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame”. The stone, the Messiah, is laid as a cornerstone or a foundation stone. Laying a foundation stone is the beginning of building work.
Psalm 118v22, which Peter quotes in verse 7, says: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone”. You see, it is builders who have rejected this stone. Builders have discarded Him as being of no use for building purposes and yet He “has become the cornerstone” or the foundation stone upon which the whole building rests. So, when the Old Testament spoke of the Messiah as a stone it was in the context of a building. What is that building? Well, Peter is going to speak in verse 5 of those who come to Jesus as being “like living stones” and he will say that they “are being built up as a spiritual house”. The picture is of the building of a temple in which Jesus as a living stone is the chief cornerstone and those who come to Him are also living stones that are built upon Him as the foundation.
Stressing that He is “a living stone” and that those who come to Him and are built upon Him are “living stones” is contrasting this new, living temple with the old, dead temple in Jerusalem that was built from cold, dead stones. It’s emphasising the superiority of the new covenant over the old covenant. The temple of the old covenant was a rigid, physical building that was eventually destroyed but the temple of the new covenant is living and growing. The temple of the old covenant represented the presence of God but He really dwells in the temple of the new covenant.
In the temple of the old covenant sacrifice for sin was depicted by means of animal sacrifices but sacrifice for sin has been offered once and for all in the temple of the new covenant. In the temple of the old covenant an outward form of worship was conducted but God is worshipped in Spirit and in truth in the temple of the new covenant. In the temple of the old covenant people symbolically came to God but people are brought into His very presence in the temple of the new covenant.
So, Peter’s description of Jesus, the one to whom we come, as “a living stone” speaks of Him being the promised Messiah. It speaks of Him being risen from the dead and alive forevermore and able to give life. It speaks of Him being the foundation of a radically new temple of a new covenant that is far superior to the temple of the old covenant.
Next post we will consider: Point 3. Man’s evaluation of Him
Dr. Steve Orr
Dr Orr has served the Body of Christ in the United Kingdom for many years and in various capacities (preaching, teaching, etc.,). Steve is a regular contributor to the pages of Christ My Covenant. His insights into the Word of God will serve you in your personal study of God’s Word. Learn of Christ!