Hello everyone, my name is James and welcome to Wednesday’s podcast. Today our passage is 1 Peter 2:1-12. The verses we’ll focus on today are v5 and v9. I’ll only read v5 now.
you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Living stones and royal priests. It all sounds like something we might find on Netflix doesn’t it? To get into this we are going to do some background research and consider the Old Testament. Because in talking about living stones, Peter the writer of this letter, is starting to talk about temples. See in verse 5, “being built into a spiritual house”, that is a temple. In this temple, v5 says there will be offerings of spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God.
Who is this?
What is it talking about?
Before Christianity came, before Jesus came, not just the Jews but every religion and every culture in the world had temples. Because everybody understands that there was a gap between us and the divine.
Every culture knew, to some degree, that human beings are small and weak and God is great and powerful. To draw on a word we heard yesterday, if God is majestic and holy, then intuitively people picked up that we can’t just show up and walk in. There is a chasm that has to be bridged. How was that chasm bridged? It was bridged in temples by priests offering sacrifices. Therefore, in the Old Testament in Israel, just like every other place, you had these “ministry experts,” I guess you could call them. They were spiritual experts.
When I did FORM at STC, which is our leadership training year at the church, I heard these spiritual experts described in 3 kinds. 3 kinds of ministers you might say: prophets, priests, and kings.
Prophets brought the Word of God from God to the people.
Priests, however, actually did the reverse. They represented the people to God, offering sacrifices on their behalf. So prophets came from God to the people with the Word; priests came from the people to God with sacrifices on their behalf.
Kings actually represented both God and the people. Kings held people accountable to live as God wanted them to live.
Now this might sound surprising, but in the Old Testament, when it came to the spiritual life, the people were relatively passive. Once a year, they would all pile into Jerusalem, and they let the experts do it. They let the experts prophesy and do priestly sacrifices. In other words, the prophets and priests and kings did the work and the people who turned up received the benefit. Then the New Testament came along. Then Jesus came along. In theory, this all changed.
I say that cheekily, because sometimes the view of church can look pretty Old Testament in ways. One man, and it is usually a man, delivers the sermon, breaks the bread, shares the blessing and off we go to enjoy our Sunday lunch and live our lives.
But here is something interesting I read in prepping for this devotion today. Do we know how revolutionary the early Christians were perceived as at first? Because of how they worshipped? Do we know why the Romans called the Christians atheists? They thought they were atheists because they didn’t seem to really have a religion like everyone else. Why? Because the early Christians had no temples. They met largely in homes. They had no priests, and they had no sacrifices. This was not normal. People were like, “How could you meet with God?”
The Christians replied, “The chasm is gone. Jesus is our Temple, because he’s both God and human. He has bridged the gap.
Jesus is the ultimate Priest, and Jesus gave us the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf and paid for our sins. Therefore, the gap has been bridged. And we can meet with God.”
This is the brilliant part. Because that reply says two things at once. There are no more temples, there are no more priests, and there are no more sacrifices. Then in the next breath it says, “Therefore, we’re all temples, we’re all priests, and we’re all offering sacrifices.”
I said at the start that we would look at verse 9 too, and this is where we will come to a finish today, where it says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
Now who is that? It is every Christian. All of us. Not a select special few. We are royal (that’s kingly), we are priests (priesthood), and we are prophets, because we’re all supposed to be declaring to the world how brilliant is He who called us out of darkness into his marvellous light.
These labels might have appeared intimidating in the past. But I hope they are empowering today. We are to lead like kings, speak like prophets and love like priests. Because that is what Jesus did and would do if he was here today.
I can’t wait to meet with you all again at some point in the future. I love our church. In time there will be, at some point, a phased return to public worship. But if Jesus came to teach us anything… it was to save us from passive religion into an active, thriving spiritual life. Where we can know God. We can worship him. We don’t need buildings, we don’t need to outsource our relationship with God to a professional. We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood.
Thank you God for Jesus and his example. That he bridged the gap between us and God. Would we learn to lead, love and speak as your representatives here on earth today and into this week. Amen.
BIBLE READING: 1 Peter 2:1-12 (NIV)
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
As you come to him, the living Stone – rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:
‘See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.’
Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,’
‘A stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.’
They stumble because they disobey the message – which is also what they were destined for.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.