In several places in the Old Testament, God describes his Son by using the metaphor of a building’s cornerstone – a stone set in the foundation of a building’s structure that all other stones are set in reference to. “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on” (Isaiah 28:16).
Isaiah prophesied that this cornerstone could provide a safe foundation for Israel, but he also said that this stone could be a stumbling block (Isaiah 8: 14). A stone that makes someone stumble would have had a lot of meaning to those living in this time, especially in battle. A single loose stone could cause someone to stumble in battle and lose their live because of it. One stumbling stone could be the difference between life and death on the battlefield.
Jesus made it clear that he is the cornerstone spoken of by the prophet Isaiah. Our response determines our experience of him as either a safe foundation to build life on or a stumbling block. Speaking to a group of leading priests and elders who confronted him while he was teaching in the temple, Jesus asked if they had ever read in the Psalms: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (Psalm 118:22). Then Jesus said, “I tell you that The Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to those that will produce the proper fruit. Anyone who stumbles over that stone will be broken to pieces, and it will crush anyone it falls on” (Matthew 21: 43-44).
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were unable to recognize the foundation stone of salvation that God had placed in Jerusalem – Jesus himself. All who build their lives on the foundation of the person and work of Christ will rest in safety. But while Jesus is a stone of safety, he is also a snare or a stumbling block. Those who reject Christ and build their lives on the sinking sand of their own goodness will not be secure.
So, which is it, secure foundation or stumbling block? Is Jesus the cornerstone of our life or are we trying to build Jesus into a house that we have built ourselves? On the spiritual battlefield today, this structural arrangement can make all the difference.
Peter wrote that “we are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple” (1 Peter 2:5). Together as the church, we are his house built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. Let us be secure in this spiritual house trusting in the eternal promises that await.
Prayer – Jesus, my cornerstone, you have made me a living stone for the spiritual house that you are building called your church. Everything about my life is determined in reference to you. You are the cornerstone that is safe to build my life on. Help me to desire this solid ground for my life and not sinking sand.
Incumbent at St Aidan's Anglican Church,