Fifth Sunday of Easter (May 14, 2017)
- First reading
- Second reading
1 Peter 2:2-10 |New Living Translation (NLT)
2 Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment,3 now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.
4 You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor.
5 And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. 6 As the Scriptures say,
“I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem,
chosen for great honor,
and anyone who trusts in him
will never be disgraced.”
7 Yes, you who trust him recognize the honor God has given him. But for those who reject him,
“The stone that the builders rejected
has now become the cornerstone.”
“He is the stone that makes people stumble,
the rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them.
9 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
10 “Once you had no identity as a people;
now you are God’s people.
Once you received no mercy;
now you have received God’s mercy.”
In this passage today from 1 Peter, we are told that we should be living stones. As I thought about that, I am reminded of a video study we did several years ago, called “Faith Lessons.” In the ancient times, and more specifically in the Hebrew times, memorials were set up. This memorials were called “standing stones.” The Hebrew word translated “standing stones” is massebah and means “to set up.” The Israelites followed ancient customs by setting up standing stones as a reminder of God’s covenant and supernatural acts on their behalf. The story of the stone was passed down from generation to generation through oral tradition.
One of the best examples is found in the book of Joshua after the crossing of the Jordan River. Once the Hebrews were across the river, they were commanded to set up to memorials – one on shore and the other in the middle of the still dried up river. Joshua told the people to remember the crossing and to remember the work that God had done. He said, “In the future, when your children ask what these stones mean, tell them…tell them of God’s mighty works.” That is my paraphrase of it.
Here in 1 Peter, we are called to be living stones. We are part of God’s spiritual temple of which Christ is the chief cornerstone. One of the things that I believe Peter is trying to get across to us today is that our lives should be a testimony of the good things of God. Our lives should shine out for the world to see – that the world may know who God is – that the world may know who Jesus is.
This passage calls God’s people to live a life of full salvation. Peter calls us to crave pure spiritual milk. Why…so we will grow into a full experience of salvation. Salvation is so much more than fire insurance – or a get out of hell free card. We were not saved simply so we could live ordinary lives. We were called to be living stones – a living testimony. We are called to obey God’s word. In fact, Peter goes on to tell us we should be very different – he calls us royal priests – just like the priests that served the Hebrews. They were set apart for God service. The great thing is that all God’s people are called to be servants in his kingdom. Believers are a holy nation. We are told to be holy – to be separate – to be pure – to be free of sin – just as God is holy. We are God’s own possession. I don’t know about you, but that makes me feel special.
God has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light so that we can show others the goodness of God. We are called to live very different lives. Peter admonishes us to keep away from worldly desires…that wage war against your very souls. We are admonished to live properly among our neighbors.
This is what being a living testimony is all about – this is what being a living stone is all about. So live as living stones – yes, God is still working on me, building me into his spiritual temple and that is my prayer for you as well.