Sunday, December 30, 2012

EJ100 #5 1 Peter 2:4-10

Today's Essential Jesus reading: 1 Peter 2:4-10.

Written by Simon Peter, one of Jesus' closest disciples, this passage is part of a letter addressed to the scattered churches of the first century AD.

This passage has three sections:

  1. 2:4-7a Peter's readers, Christian believers, come to the precious living Stone to be built into a spiritual house (a temple of the Holy Spirit).
  2. 2:7-8 Those who reject this Stone and disobey the (gospel) message stumble and fall. 
  3. 2:9-10 Peter's readers are chosen by God, royal servants of God, set apart as a nation for God, belonging to God alone, made into a united people by God, the recipients of God's mercy.
This "Stone" is Jesus. He is:

  • living;
  • rejected by humans [remember John 1:10-11?];
  • chosen by God;
  • precious to God;
  • enabling believers to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God [Romans 12:1];
  • Jesus Christ;
  • a Stone in Zion (the nickname for Jerusalem, in its identity as the location of the spiritual home of God's people living in God's presence under God's rule);
  • a chosen and precious cornerstone;
  • precious to those who believe;
  • rejected by those who do not believe;
  • still the cornerstone!;
  • a Stone who causes people who reject him to stumble;
  • a Rock (an allusion to the LORD [eg 2 Sam 22:32; Psalm 18:31 and many other psalms]) who makes those who disobey the gospel message fall;
  • called us out of darkness into his wonderful light [remember John 1:4-5,9?].
A cornerstone is the most important stone in a building, against which the other stones are aligned and fitted to lie correctly in their proper position. Jesus is a cornerstone for a building not of bricks or stones, but of people, who are living stones.

Whether people believe in Jesus or reject him, he is still the cornerstone of the lives of all people. For those who believe, Jesus is the cornerstone which we deliberately and carefully align our lives against, as God builds us into his holy dwelling, like living stones (2:5). For those who do not believe, Jesus is the cornerstone against which the lives of those who reject him will be measured, when he comes to judge the living and the dead [1 Peter 4:5; see also Acts 10:42; 2 Timothy 4:1].

> In what ways are you deliberately and carefully aligning your life against the life and work of Jesus Christ?

"To you who believe, this Stone is precious" (2:7a). One way I declare that Jesus is precious to me is by gathering with his body, the church, each Sunday morning. This is perhaps the most publicly visible of all Christian confessions that Jesus is precious to us: we spend time with church that could otherwise be spent sleeping in, gardening, catching up with household chores, playing with our kids, or driving trucks (like the several that thundered past our church this morning on their way to deliver grain to the local bulk handling depot).

Jesus is precious to me, and I want my kids to feel the same way about him. So it is important to me that they have the opportunity to attend a Sunday School program that they can enjoy and learn from, rather than struggling to sit still and quiet in a hot church building (it reached 39C / 102F today). During term time, Mrs B teaches the Sunday School at our church. During the holidays, however, she has a well-earned and hopefully refreshing break.

So this morning, my family attended two church services, as we are doing each Sunday of the summer holidays. Jeff regularly preaches to two congregations each Sunday, and during the holidays we are going to both with him so that I can hear his sermon to the first congregation (while the kids play in the park across the road, if it's not impossibly hot). Then I supervise holiday Sunday School during his sermon to the second congregation. This means I have to get the kids and myself ready to leave the house at 7:30am so we can drive 50km to the first service at 8:30am, then 50km back to the second service at 10:30am, which finishes at noon. And it's worth it, because Jesus is precious to me!

> Is Jesus precious to you? What do you do to express this preciousness?

The purpose of all the blessings described in verses 5 and 9-10, of believers being built like living stones into a temple (the Church of God), is given at the end of 2:9. These blessings are granted so "that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."

> To whom shall you declare God's praises today?

Why do I love and worship Jesus?
 I love Jesus because he is a perfect cornerstone upon which I may direct and build my life. His perfection provides guidance for my efforts to become holy and perfect, as he is holy and perfect [1 Peter 1:15-16].

Thank you for sharing your precious Son with me.
Thank you for making him precious in my sight also.
Please help me to align my life to his,
to be holy as Jesus, my cornerstone, is holy.

Tomorrow's reading: Genesis 3:1-24.

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