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… 1 Peter 2:4-5
To fully grasp the significance of the spiritual house and holy priesthood, we must go back to Calvary. “And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom” (Mark 15:37- 38). “It is finished!” To Israel it was both a death cry and a mercy. Never again would the Spirit of God dwell in her man-made “holy of holies.” The priesthood had fattened itself on power and prestige and forsaken its call to produce the fruit of righteousness. Yet the ultimate Day of Atonement had dawned on the nation uniquely loved by her covenant-keeping God
“It is finished!” The unblemished Lamb of God had offered Himself up as the ultimate blood sacrifice and so the tremendous act of redemption was completed. Unlike the high priest of old who stood while performing his bloody duty – obligated to repeat it year after year – Jesus sat down at the right hand of His Father. His perfect atonement called for the new priesthood of all believers. These “called out” – the church – were to proclaim the risen Savior and the results of His obedience. In His name the church would bind up the brokenhearted, offer liberty to the captives, and preach good news. (Part 1 of 2)
Comment: According to Peter, no Americans were present at Pentecost, so it’s up to this native-born Swiss-German speaker to confound him with expressions such as stone-dead, stonewalling, and stony-faced. The latter means “rigid, expressionless” and upon hearing this, his face might just light up. That’s because Peter is adamant that such FAITH is as “dead as a door nail.” That expression originated in the 13th century. The Exodus took place in 1300 B.C. and it’s fair to assume that after 40 years of wilderness wandering, the Israelites were sick of stones. In 1,000 B.C. Jerusalem stones were eagerly gathered to build Solomon’s magnificent temple. The Babylonians destroyed it in 587/586 B.C. Feel free to google yourself a date when Psalm 102 might have been written, but do detect in verse 14 a yearning for a “house of God” that would be the enduring delight of Zion. “For her stones are dear to your servants; her very dust moves them to pity.”
After Peter had been called, tutored, and lavishly loved by Jesus Christ, he was able to present Him as the “living stone” who is intent to build a spiritual house indwelled by the Holy Spirit. He would be the mortar – the enduring bonding agent – that would showcase “a people for God’s own possession…to proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).