1 Peter 2:4 – 8
4 Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and 5like living stones, let yourselves be built* into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For it stands in scripture:
‘See, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious;
and whoever believes in him* will not be put to shame.’
7To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe,
‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the very head of the corner’,
‘A stone that makes them stumble,
and a rock that makes them fall.’
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
Christ was rejected by the religious and political leaders of his time – but he was chosen by God, and was precious in God’s sight. He is the living stone, the cornerstone of faith. Even though this stone was rejected by the mortal builders, it was precious, and was chosen by God to be the cornerstone of a new covenant. The author quotes scripture (Psalm 118:22) showing that God’s chosen one would be rejected by the leaders of this world.
But building upon this cornerstone of our faith, we too become living stones, a temple that is not physical stone and mortar, but a temple built of faith, and love for one another and for God. The people of Israel had the stone temple for many years; they could not imagine life, and worship, without the temple. That Jesus, rather than the temple, could embody the life and breath of God was beyond their ability to imagine; the very idea was a stumbling block to them! Even though the coming of the Messiah was in scripture; even though scripture had always said that love was the most important law; even in light of the evidence of God’s word, they could not see beyond their preconceived notions of what would be. And then, there is the matter of the crucifixion – this was beyond their understanding. How could the Messiah be crucified, killed in the most painful way possible? No, they thought, if this had been the Messiah, he would have come down off the cross. Therefore, they stumbled and fell at the very thing that should have lifted them up! They were too wrapped up in themselves to ever believe and obey God’s Word. Note: sometimes “Word” refers to Scripture, sometimes to Jesus. God is revealed to us in Scripture, but more perfectly in Christ. Thus, in this passage, Word seems to refer to Christ.
The author quotes scripture a lot – especially the Psalms. The people he writes to were likely people who knew these scriptures. This would make it likely that they were Christians who had been dispersed from Jerusalem at its destruction.
But the true temple is not the stones in Jerusalem; the true temple is the presence of God in Christ, the hope of the world. We become living stones of that temple when we believe and are joined together in love and hope, as a church.
The remaining stones of the temple are called "The Western Wall" or the "Wailing Wall", a place where people go to pray.