Monday, April 6, 2015


Peter says something interesting in his first letter. It's an idea that is seen throughout Scripture, from the first Temple to the Second: it's about the cornerstone. 

The cornerstone is an interesting piece of construction. It has to be laid just right or the whole building will be askew. It has to be laid straight and also at a right angle, so that the building goes off square in both directions. It has to be set firmly so that it doesn't move when the other pieces start to come around it. It must be set deeply enough that it gives the building root but not so deep that its structural importance is lost. In other words, it must be perfectly right. Or everything else is going to be terribly wrong. 

The cornerstone in Scripture is a reference to Jesus. Jesus is the first piece God is going to put in place. And sometimes, I think that's kind of hard to narrow down. I mean, what part of Jesus? His birth? His ministry? That one day on the mountainside? That other day on the mountainside? Jesus in the courtyard, refusing to speak in His own defense? Jesus crucified? What is it about Jesus that we're supposed to be building around? And I, I know...I ask this question more around this time of year, around Easter. Because there's something about being torn between the Cross and the grave that's hard for me.

The Cross was God's redemptive act; it's how we build a life in God at all. It's the sacrifice that allows us to come before Him, holy and pleasing. There is no Christ without the Cross; we have no hope without this redemption. But the grave was God's eternal act; it's the promise of forever. And we need that, too. I could drive myself crazy thinking about such things this time of year. 

But this year, I haven't had to. Because of what Peter says. And here it is:

I am laying a chosen and precious cornerstone in Zion... (2:6a)

I read that and I can't help but wonder if it's not Good Friday/Easter that Peter is referring to. God has laid a chosen and precious cornerstone - Christ, always Christ - in a grave in Zion. 

Which sounds like maybe the grave is the thing, but no. This is the beautiful harmony of the Cross and the grave. The cornerstone is the crucified Christ, that which is being laid. The grave is the foundation on which He is being laid. So there's no tension here. There's no wondering what part of Jesus we're supposed to be building our lives around. It is the crucified Christ set in the grave; it is sacrifice resting in promise.

It is redemption nestled in eternity. 

That's the cornerstone. And that's not to say that when the Christ comes out of the grave, all is ruined. No. The crucified Christ is still the stone to build on, and the grave - even empty - is still the place on which to build.

And whoever believes in him will never be ashamed. (2:6b)

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