Stones seem to be really important in scripture, and therefore we have to conclude, important to God.
Under the Law, altars were to be made of unhewn stones. So right there, approach to God is linked to stones. On the grimmer side, stones were to be used for executions for capital offenses. And as we all know, David killed Goliath with a stone.
But here’s what makes this really important: we’re told Messiah is a stone, in both senses. He was foretold to be, and was, a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling—Jesus just wasn’t the Messiah they were expecting, and they tripped over the reality. He was also anointed to be their Judge, and would be a stone that would crush those who oppose him. But then on the other side, Messiah would also be the cornerstone laid by the Almighty, a precious cornerstone and a sure foundation. Approach to God, and the vehicle for judgment, both embodied in Jesus Christ.
Jesus was a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling
(Homework: On your own and/or in your Bible study group, take a look at the passages behind that last paragraph: Isaiah 8:14-15, quoted in 1 Peter 2:8 and Romans 9:32-33, referred to in 1 Corinthians 1:23. And, Isaiah 28:16 and Psalm 118:22, quoted in Matthew 21:42-44, Mark 12:10-11, Luke 20:17-18, Acts 4:11, Ephesians 2:20 and 1 Peter 2:4-8. Related, Daniel 2:31-45 records Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and Daniel’s interpretation—the stone that destroys all human kingdoms and fills the earth with an everlasting Kingdom is surely Messiah.)
The number of times Jesus is described as the stone (note, THE stone) should make us sit up and pay attention. And when we do pay attention, we find there’s more. You’re already thinking, “Yeah, I remember, a stone was used to close Jesus’s tomb, and the stone rolled back is synonymous with the resurrection.” You’re right! And there are more—see else what you can locate!
Here’s one. Who else besides Jesus is a “stone”? Remember this?
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:15-18)
It’s not obvious in our English translations, but you have probably heard that “Peter” (actually petros in Greek) means “a stone” or “a piece of rock”. And you may also know that the “rock” on which Jesus says he’ll build his church is related but not the same. It’s petras, which means bedrock. What is the bedrock Jesus’s church is built on? There’s only one cornerstone! It’s Christ, and the bedrock Jesus is talking about is the confession Peter has just made: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”. On this rock, our faith is built.
So, I hope you noticed, Jesus isn’t the only stone. But Peter isn’t the only other stone. Look at these passages:
We are part of the glorious spiritual temple honoring the one true God.
Isn’t this just stunning? We are stones, built into the same “building” as the prophets, the apostles, and Jesus himself. We are part of the glorious spiritual temple honoring the one true God. (Do you recall what the literal Temple in the Old Testament was made from? Yep, stones! This figure was put in place by God a long time ago!)
Stones are important to God – both for approach to Him and for His judgments. Both are embodied in Jesus. And we are stones, we are important to God. Astonishingly, He sees us as fit to be built into the same structure as the prophets and apostles, fit to be in the same temple to God as the Lord Jesus himself. Amazing.