“Coming to him as to a living stone, rejected, it is true, by men, but chosen, precious, with God, you yourselves also as living stones are being built up a spiritual house for the purpose of a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it is contained in Scripture: ‘Look! I am laying in Zion a stone, chosen, a foundation cornerstone, precious; and no one exercising faith in it will by any means come to disappointment.’” (1 Peter 2:4-6)
6. (a) In the first century, how did believers come to the Son of God “as to a living stone”? (b) Why is Jesus rightly called a “living stone”?
6 By acknowledging Jesus Christ as their Lord and the one through whom they could gain salvation, they came to him “as to a living stone.” The expression “living stone” is very fitting. Jesus Christ is not like an ordinary, cold, inanimate stone from which no life-sustaining substance can be drawn. The Son of God is like the rock-mass from which the Israelites received a miraculous supply of water in the wilderness. According to the inspired apostle Paul, “that rock-mass meant the Christ.” It was a symbol or a pictorial type of the Son of God. (1 Corinthians 10:4) Jesus himself said:
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.” (John 7:37) “Whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty at all, but the water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water bubbling up to impart everlasting life.” (John 4:14)
Thus the Son of God indicated that his teaching, if taken in like refreshing water, would lead to salvation—to life without end. Moreover, Jesus Christ has also been granted life-giving power. Therefore, like his Father, he can impart life to others on the basis of his propitiatory sacrifice, raising them from the dead.—John 5:28, 29.
7. How was Jesus Christ rejected as a “living stone”?
7 As Peter pointed out, Jesus was “rejected, it is true, by men.” Especially the proud religious leaders saw nothing in the Son of God that they regarded as worthy of imitation. They did not appreciate his exemplary compassion and love for humankind. When Jesus gave spiritual help to persons known to be sinners, the religious leaders objected: “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:2) They witnessed how the Son compassionately made use of the sabbath to open the eyes of the blind, to heal the sick and to free the crippled from their affliction. But instead of rejoicing and praising God, the religious leaders were filled with rage and plotted to kill him. (Matthew 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:7-11; 14:1-6) They told a blind man whose sight had been restored: “This is not a man from God, because he does not observe the Sabbath.” (John 9:16) Finally, the Jewish supreme court, the Sanhedrin, sentenced Jesus to death on the false charge of blasphemy. (Matthew 26:63-66) With a view to carrying out the penalty, the Jewish rulers changed the charge against Jesus from blasphemy to sedition. At their instigation, the Roman governor, Pilate, ordered the execution of him on a stake like the worst kind of political criminal.—Luke 23:1-24.
8. What is Jehovah’s estimation of his Son?
8 The action of men in rejecting Jesus Christ as a foundation did not alter Jehovah God’s own estimation of his Son. Since the Most High foreordained him as the one through whom the human race would be redeemed and as the “living stone” on whom the Christian congregation would be built, Jesus, as Peter states, was a “chosen” one and continued to be such. There was never any doubt in the mind of the Father about the Son’s carrying out the divine purpose without a single flaw. Jehovah knew that his Son was perfect in devotion and affection. On earth, Jesus Christ proved his deep love for his Father by doing his Father’s will perfectly while undergoing great suffering. The Son’s faithfulness under severe testing made him very precious in the eyes of the Most High. So the Christian congregation is blessed by having as its foundation the one whom Jehovah God regards as his most highly valued Son. (Ephesians 2:20-22) And devoted members of this congregation strive hard to imitate the faithful course of Jesus Christ.
9. Why could first-century believers be sure that their faith would not come to disappointment?
9 Those to whom the apostle Peter wrote shared God’s view of his Son. As the apostle stated: “It is to you, therefore, that he is precious, because you are believers.” (1 Peter 2:7a) They recognized that Jesus Christ was the extremely valuable foundation cornerstone that the Father had laid in heavenly Zion, fulfilling the words of Psalm 118:22 and Isaiah 8:14; 28:16. Because of being in harmony with Jehovah’s evaluation of his Son and putting their faith in him as the foundation cornerstone, first-century believers could rest assured that they would not experience disappointment, a shattering of their hopes. No one can damage the costly, precious foundation that is firmly established in the heavens and thus cause loss to those whose hopes are intimately bound up with it. As long as believers remained in union with Christ, the congregation’s unshakable foundation, they were certain of receiving the object of their faith, namely, life without end. The unbelievers, however, would experience great loss. The apostle Peter continued: