Christ the One Foundation
1 Peter 2:6
Why also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious…

St. Peter, when arraigned before Annas and Caiaphas, had reminded them of that passage (Psalm 118:22) which speaks of a stone cast aside by the builders as unfitted for their purpose, but afterwards, by the Lord's own act, chosen out to be "the head of the corner." The sacred irony of this contrast had evidently taken hold of his mind. In the context here he has been referring to that passage in combination with one of Isaiah's (Isaiah 28:16), and applying both to the Lord Jesus, as identified with that Lord of whom another Psalmist had said, "O taste and see that the Lord is gracious." He now quotes from Isaiah, applying the title of "cornerstone" to his Master, just as St. Paul says (1 Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 2:20). What does this ancient and sacred image, thus borrowed by St. Peter and St. Paul from the stores of Hebrew prophecy, convey to us Christians? When Isaiah was drawing near to the close of his public life, a worldly and irreligious party had risen to influence and temporary command in the kingdom of Judah. Their aim was to strengthen it by a secular policy, with an Egyptian alliance for its basis. Their thoughts, if put into modern shape, would run somewhat as follows: "Judah must be set free from the bondage of a narrow clerical interest: it is essentially a kingdom, existing side by side with other kingdoms; its needs, its emergencies, are like theirs; it must, perforce, do as they do. It must therefore shake off the tyranny of meddlesome preachers, who can only look at secular matters from their own theological point of view, and pretend to school practical men like children, with a dull iteration of precept upon precept. We have outgrown all that; it is time for common sense to reign. We know how to make safeguards for the throne and for the country, which will enable us, so to speak, to be on friendly terms with death, exempt from the peril of destruction; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come to us." Isaiah turns round upon them as the minister of Him who scorneth the scorners. "No," he says, "your hopes are vain; your covenant with death shall be cancelled; your hiding place is a refuge of lies, and the hailstorm and the rising flood will sweep it away. The scourge, when it comes, will simply trample you down. But I will tell you where a refuge can be found; there is a stone laid by God for a sure foundation, a stone tried and precious; he that trusteth to it shall not make haste, shall not be shaken from his foothold." This refers first to that sacred character of the house of David, which belonged to it as destined to culminate in David's future preeminent Son, and in the fuller sense to that Son in His own Person, as realising all that could be indicated by the glorious titles of "the Emmanuel, the Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God." Because He was one day to appear, the pious in Judah would rest their hopes and stay their souls on Him. And this should be, in a far more effective sense, the experience of those who know the Christ as having come. Consider a few of the senses in which He makes good this title of cornerstone. How, do we think, did the first preachers to the heathen win converts? By appealing to men's deepest sense of need, to the felt necessity of a centralising, consolidating principle for human life.

1. Two things, at least, we must secure, if life is not to be a failure.

(1) One is, something certainly true, a truth to stand by amid uncertainties. As we advance in our earthly journey, perplexities gather round on all sides. Life has not verified our first expectations; it raises questions which it does not answer; there is a confusion of theories; but where is that which we can depend upon, and grasp firmly, looking life and death in the face? The answer is in the words of Jesus, "I am the Truth."(2) Man also needs a power of moral and spiritual rectification. He believes Christ is all-precious, because He can and does help them to become pure and single-hearted, high in aim and active in duty.

2. These two great questions well answered by the acceptance of Jesus Christ, one sees how in His relation to the several doctrines and institutions of His Kingdom, He sustains the character of the One Foundation.

(1) It is so in regard to doctrines.

(2) He is also the foundation of all His ordinances. All the instrumental agencies whereby He waits upon the soul — the means, as we call them, or channels of His grace — derive their efficacy from Him; nay, more, it is He who is the real though unseen Minister in them all, the true Celebrant, Baptizer, Absolver, Ordainer, the sovereign Priest of His Church.

3. If Christ be, in these ways, the foundation of our spiritual life, in all its aspects, should He not be also the foundation of all that we do?

(W. Bright, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.

WEB: Because it is contained in Scripture, "Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, chosen, and precious: He who believes in him will not be disappointed."

The Lively Stones. Rev. W. Morley Punshon
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