Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God's sight chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture: "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and he who believes in him will not be put to shame.” To you therefore who believe, he is precious, but for those who do not believe, "The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner,” and "A stone that will make men stumble, a rock that will make them fall"; for they stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. (RSV)
Jesus is chosen and precious in God’s sight yet rejected by men. I wonder how many other things are precious to God that I have rejected. How many precious gifts have I received in my life and have scorned them or thought they were a burden? Maybe I simply haven’t been grateful for some of the things He has given. 1 Thess 5:16-18 says that it is God’s will for me to be joyful, pray continually and to give thanks in all circumstances. Jesus was rejected by mankind yet Heb 12:2 says that He considered it Joy to go to the cross for me. When difficulties come, shouldn’t I be joyful and thankful that I’m being molded and shaped by a loving Father who knows what’s best for me?
That molding and shaping is to prepare me to be a spiritual house and a royal priesthood. People often call the church building the house of God. Does God live in houses built by man? Yes He is everywhere but He dwells in us. Eph 2:22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (NIV) It doesn’t matter which denomination I belong to, I am part of the Church with a capital “C” because it is the body of Christ. However that denomination had better be following Jesus or it will be like the church in Rev 3:16b I am about to spit you out of my mouth. (NIV)
So what is that spiritual sacrifice that I can now offer as a royal priesthood? First I need to offer myself. That would be described in Romans 12:1 that says I should be offering my body as living sacrifice to God. That pleases Him. I have a feeling that many people who claim to be Christians haven’t really understood that becoming a Christian requires a total surrender to God; it is a transfer of ownership. That isn’t easy to do. I often forget and do my own thing.
Another sacrifice is praise. Heb 13:15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. (RSV) In many parts of the world, this is more of a sacrifice than others. To acknowledge His name can also bring a death sentence. I certainly should be able to do that here where there is little threat. I need to do that more openly.
I think this leads directly into the cornerstone comments. If I’m afraid to acknowledge Jesus as my Lord then I will trip over Him. Jesus said in Matt 12:30 that I’m not with Him, I’m against Him. In Mark 8:38 He said that if I’m ashamed of Him now, then He will be ashamed of me when He comes back. That doesn’t sound good. On the other hand, if I trust in Him now, I have confidence that I will be with Him when He comes back.
Then there is that last little bit of verse 8. Some stumble because that is their destiny. I can only say that I know Jesus. It is not my destiny to stumble. I had stumbled for a long time but not now. If you feel that you are destined to stumble then you should know that Jesus forgives and accepts right up to the last moment of life on earth. Just look at the thief on the cross. It was a last minute salvation for him. However, in the other Gospel accounts he had been cursing Jesus just as the other thief had. Yet he turned at the last minute to ask to be remembered by Jesus. The thieves knew that their time was almost up. Few people know how imminent death is. The only way to know for sure whether or not you are destined to stumble or to be saved is to ask Jesus right now to be with Him and surrender your life to Him. Otherwise you may miss the opportunity and discover in eternity that you were destined to stumble but had many chances to change that destiny.