(21.) On Christ as the Living Stone

(21.) On Christ as the Living Stone

(21.) On Christ as the Living Stone.

“So come to Him then, that Living Stone which was rejected and discarded by men but chosen by God and is priceless in God’s eyes… For it says in Scripture, “Look, I lay a cornerstone in Zion, a chosen and precious stone! Whoever believes in Him will certainly not be disappointed.”  (1 Peter 2:4, 6).

When Jesus claimed to be the “stone that the builders rejected” in Matthew 21:42 (also Mark 12:10 and Luke 20:17), He is exhorting the leaders that they are fulfilling the prophecy by rejecting Him. He is explaining to the religious leaders that He is the fulfillment to the messianic prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures:

  1. “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Ps. 118:22-24).
  2. “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; whoever believes will not act hastily.” (Isaiah 28:16).
  3. “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall produce that excellent stone: it shall be greeted with shouts of ‘Beautiful! Beautiful!… When they see the stone of distinction, they shall rejoice.”  (Zechariah 4:6-7).

There was no doubt whatsoever that the earliest Christians affirmed Jesus as the prophesied Stone. Paul says so in 1 Corinthians 3:11, “No other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Paul also states in Ephesians 2:20“… Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.” Peter agrees with Paul, as you can see in his affirmation in 1 Peter 2 above. And Luke repeats this messianic claim of Jesus as he refers to the Stone in Acts 4:11, “… By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, this is the Stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.” 

Jesus is associated with four types of living stones in the Bible: foundation stone, cornerstone, capstone, and keystone. These last three seem to be interchangeable in Scripture, and cornerstone could just as easily be translated as capstone or keystone. Most translations, though, have centered on cornerstone.

Foundation Stone. One interesting facet of the idea of foundation stone is something familiar to all Jews regarding the Holy of Holies. According to rabbinic and mystical tradition, there is a sacred rock called “The Foundation,” a stone that is slightly elevated off the ground, sitting in the center of the Holy of Holies, which is in the center of the Temple, which is historically considered to be the center of the world. It is considered the rock that was the foundation rock during Creation. There is still a Foundation stone to this day in what was once the Holy of Holies on the Temple Mount. The idea of foundation stone is also at the center of Jesus’ famous parable about the two builders. The wise builder built his house on the stable foundation rock under the ground. The foolish builder didn’t bother digging for solid rock, but settled on his house being built on the shifting sand. In all this, Jesus has proven Himself to be the sure foundation stone… of Creation, of our personal faith, and of the collective faith of the Church. Our lives and the life of the Church is built on nothing less than Jesus, our true Foundation Stone.

Cornerstone. In building a house of faith, Christ is also the chief cornerstone. A builder can’t effectively join two walls together in a permanent way without placing a solid cornerstone that joins those two walls together. Without the invaluable cornerstone, the walls won’t be stable. They will be crooked, unevenly joined, and they will sooner or later collapse. Usually the chief cornerstone is placed right on the foundation, and the builders can then begin to adjoin the walls right onto it. The builders have to be choosy in picking the cornerstone, it has to be worthy of trust, since the stability of the walls depend on it. Without the perfectly chosen and placed cornerstone, the walls will not stand, the house will be faulty, and all the building will have been done in vain. Christ is the cornerstone in the house of faith, holding together the walls of justice and righteousness. A solid, stable cornerstone is a reason for builders, and believers, to rejoice.

Capstone. “The stone that the builders rejected and discarded has now become the capstone.” (1 Peter 2:7, NIV). Jesus could just as well be the capstone in a house of faith. Capstones are vital in construction, for they are the solid stones that are placed at the very top of the new walls. Capstones finish off the walls up top and provide a stable place on which to build the roof. Without solid capstones securing the highest point of the walls, the walls would be incomplete and unstable. Once the capstones are in place, the roof can be securely built and the residents can be protected from weather and predators and pests. Without solid capstones, the roof would be insecure and unstable. Without the well-placed capstones, the house would not be a place of peace and protection. Christ is the priceless capstone, the invaluable part of the faith’s support system, turning a house into a sanctuary.

Keystone. “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the keystone.” (Luke 20:17, NRSV). As the Living Stone, Christ has become the foundation stone, the cornerstone, the capstone, and now the keystone in the house of faith. The keystone is one more vital way that Jesus is essential in faith construction. The keystone is that wedge-shaped stone that fits perfectly into the very top center of the entrance arch. Without a well-selected and shaped keystone, believe it or not, everything would collapse. It is the final piece placed during house construction, because it serves the function of locking all the stones into position. The keystone allows the arch to bear the weight of all the construction. Without a perfectly fitted keystone, the unstable shelter would fall. Without Christ as the keystone, the house of faith would not hold together, for He makes everything fit together perfectly.

As the Living Stone, Christ is the most important building material in our house of faith. He is the foundation stone, the cornerstone, the capstone, and the keystone. We build on Him, and with Him. We build for Him and because of Him. We build through Him and in Him. There would be no shelter of faith were it not for the Living Stone. Christ is the Rock of Salvation, and with Him we will never be disappointed. It is the Lord’s doing, and is marvelous in our sight. “Trust in the Lord forever, for in Yahweh God, we have an everlasting Rock.” (Isaiah 26:4).