‘I thought it was five smooth stones’ you say. ‘In fact, I’m almost sure of it – young David picked up five stones, not four … one of which brought down mighty Goliath.’ True. But there is another collection of stones in Scripture that ought to be just as memorable to us – the four stones of 1 Peter chapter 2. Peruse verses 4-8 and you will see that, four different times, the apostle compares the Lord Jesus to certain kinds of stones …
Jesus is a living stone (v.4a). In other words, while Peter is about to spend five verses calling Jesus a stone, he wants to remind us that the Savior is, in one way, quite different from marble and quartz. He’s alive! He is no longer in that tomb! He is not stoic or inanimate among the world of men, like a rock in your garden. He is living and active, at work in our lives all the time – a “living stone”; a stone that can pour forth blessings, like the rock that gave water in the Old Testament! This Jesus is not sitting in heaven, stone-faced to His people’s needs and cries … but is ever ready to move into action, and to pour forth living waters upon us! Therefore, you can call on Him in your time of need, even today! He is a living stone!
Jesus is a precious stone (v.4b). Jesus is the “pearl of great price.” He is the diamond in the rough of this sinful world. He is the treasure that we seek when we begin digging into the scriptures! That’s right – when we mine the scriptures for spiritual nuggets, the most precious stone of them all is when we find Jesus. All the law and the prophets speak of Him! And so, as we read along in the book of Ezra, or 1 Samuel, or Revelation – we ought to be hunting, more than anything else, for this stone that is “choice and precious in the sight of God.” He ought to be precious to us, too! More precious than silver and more costly than gold, Jesus is a precious stone!
Jesus is a cornerstone (v.6). He is the first piece of granite that God put in place when building the household of faith that is the church. He is the foundation for it all. If God were to pull this cornerstone out from under the rest of the building, one stone would not be left upon another! The church would entirely collapse! For only upon Jesus can we build the life of faith. He is the bedrock of all that we are. If we build on the shifting sands of our own good works or religious merit, the house will fall. If we build in the mud of superstition or tradition, our faith will collapse. But if we, like the wise man, build our house on the rock; if we mortar our little stones in place atop the chief cornerstone, we “will not be disappointed”, says Peter! Jesus is our cornerstone!
Jesus is a stumbling stone (v.8). As I.H. Marshall points out in his IVP New Testament Commentary on 1 Peter (p.72), choosing to ignore the cornerstone doesn’t mean it will go away! Those people who disbelieve; those people who walk right past the cornerstone, on their way to building their lives on some other foundation, will soon find the cornerstone standing in their way. But, refusing to build their lives on it, and trying to step over it and go their own way, they will catch the toe of their shoe on the stumbling stone … tumble headlong into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels! You cannot be neutral to Jesus! Either you will build on him as a cornerstone, and He will lift you up to heaven; or you will stumble over Him, straight into hell. Your eternal destiny hinges entirely on what you do with Jesus. If you disbelieve, He will be to you a stumbling stone.
So there they are – four stones, gathered from the brook of 1 Peter 2. Pick them up, like David so long ago, and store them away. There is no doubt these truths will prove as useful to you as those smooth stones in David’s pouch!