Please find below my teaching notes for Easter Weekend at GCC- “The Cornerstone.”
Welcome and Intro: Our current teaching series at GCC is called “The Church” and we’ve been primarily talking about “What the Church really is and Who it is really for!” And this weekend, being Easter, ties in perfectly because of the imagery the Bible uses to help us see how what Jesus has done for us- his death and resurrection, makes it possible for all us to be a part of the Church!
And when I say “Church” I’m not referring to a denomination, an affiliation, or a religion; but to a personal experience that, despite our flawed humanity, brings us into right relationship with God!
One of the images the Bible uses is that of a “building” and how we all find our fit in this “building” primarily because the “building” itself is entirely contingent on and constructed according to the placement of the Cornerstone!
We lived in an old stone house built in the early 1800’s in MD behind the Plantation house when we were building our new house. That house, over 175 years later was still as rock solid as the day it was built! Imagine the weather and other environmental conditions it had experienced in that time, and yet, there it still stood, still housing families! And down in the crawl space, there on the one corner, was this perfectly set, bigger than all the others, stone- the Cornerstone!
The Cornerstone is the stone in every building, especially when buildings were all built out of stone, that every stone leans on, lines up with, and locks into; it’s the most important stone in the building and it has to be perfectly set!
In the Bible the “Cornerstone” could also mean “Capstone” and both are referred to. The real difference was that the “Cornerstone” was the first stone set and the “Capstone” was the last stone set! WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
In this imagery, the Bible refers to Jesus as both the “Cornerstone” and the “Capstone” of our Faith! In other words, he is the “Alpha and the Omega- the first and the last!” (Rev. 22:13). He is the “Author and the Finisher of our faith!” (Heb. 12:2). This takes care of everything in between! That’s Easter!!
So, when it comes to God building his Church or His Kingdom, Jesus is the First Stone that all the other “stones” are set by and the Last Stone that all the other “stones” are sealed by! Through grace and mercy he makes it possible for us to lean on and line up with Him; AND he locks us into our relationship with God!
Ephesians 2:20-21 “Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.”
Something that’s very important to note about what the Apostle Paul, who wrote this, is saying is that it refers to the Gentiles as having the opportunity to be a part of God’s Church. Initially Jesus came to the Jew, to Israel first, but, as a nation with their Pharisaical religious system, they didn’t want anything to do with Jesus! WHY?
Because religious systems are our way of trying to please our “gods!” All religions boil down to this: “I align with these rules therefore I’m accepted- I made myself fit!”
Jesus says, “You’re accepted, don’t worry about any rules, let just have a growing relationship!” You see, the Good News (explain) says that because of what Jesus has done for you, you are accepted relationally therefore you’ll want to align with Christ- Jesus makes you fit!
That’s why most of the Jews (Israel) will still celebrate “Passover” but NOT “Easter!” To them, and to others still today, Jesus is NOT the Cornerstone or the Capstone, he is…
THE STONE OF REJECTION
It’s interesting and amazing just how far God has gone to NOT reject us! Despite our flaws and failures, God IS both amazingly resilient and resolute when it comes to redeeming us and WANTING us to be “fitted” into what he’s building- His Church, his Family, where we can lean on, get lined up with, and locked into Christ!
Think about it!! I built my own house in MD and I promise you there were many blocks, bricks, and lumber that after inspection I found flaws and REJECTED them and that’s why they DID NOT make it into the building!!
Fact is, we are all flawed in some form or another, and based simply on that, God could rightly reject us… BUT he doesn’t!! WHY? Because God did not send a “Sin Inspector” but a SAVIOR! “God demonstrates his love for us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!” (Rom. 5:8).
GOD DOESN’T REJECT US- JESUS DIED FOR ALL, YET WE REJECT HIM… WHY?
Well, in this story in the Bible of the Jews/Israel rejecting Jesus as the Messiah AND CRUCIFYING HIM, we have to ask, WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT? The Apostle Peter, not long after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, in the first recorded sermon in the Bible by someone other than Jesus, states to the Jewish people: “Jesus is the Stone that you builders rejected but now has become the Cornerstone!” He is quoting from Ps. 118:22 that was a prophesy about this.
And using this imagery, they know exactly what he’s saying- “You’ve rejected the most important stone in any building- the one that has to be perfectly set first so all the others can fit in properly and the one that is set last that seals the whole building, completes it!”
To the Jews in Jesus’ day they chose to ignore the prophecies that declared a dying Savior and resurrected Redeemer, and focused only on the ones that elevated the nation, not the Messiah! Today, people can miss the point as well because the Church often promotes itself rather than Christ! We attempt to build a religious system that fits God into our form rather than allowing Christ to form and fit us into His image!
Peter said it this way in one of his letters in the Bible, quoting the OT prophet Isaiah, in 1 Peter 2:4-8 “You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor. And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple…. As the Scriptures say, ‘I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem, chosen for great honor, and anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.’ Yes, you who trust him recognize the honor God has given him. But for those who reject him, ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’ And, ‘He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall.’ They stumble because they do not obey God’s word…”
Anytime you try to “fit” Jesus into your life, you’ll ultimately end up rejecting him! But if you allow Jesus to “fit” you into his life (be “in Christ”) it’s powerfully rewarding!
Note: Remember I told you that “cornerstone” and “capstone” both symbolize Christ?? There’s a Jewish legend about the building of the actual temple in Jerusalem. Truth is, the temple was a “prefab” building- all the stones for the building of the temple were hewn and brought in from a quarry, and then put together in Jerusalem. It’s said that not a hammer was heard in Jerusalem when the temple was built. Everything was hewn outside the city, brought in and then put together by the builders. It was made perfectly and then perfectly put together.
The legend says that one day the builders brought in a stone and it didn’t seem to fit anywhere. They tried to put it here and there and it just didn’t seem to fit anywhere so they put it to the side. But they kept stumbling and falling over it. Finally, one of the builders just pushed it over to the side and it fell over off the temple mount and it rolled down into the Kidron valley below. And the weeds grew up over it. When they got down to the finish it was time to put the cornerstone into the building, in this case, the “stone of honor or the capstone,” into the building. They said, “Where is the capstone?” They sent word down to the quarry and they said, “Where is the capstone?” They said, “We’ve already sent it. We sent it months ago.” So they began to look for it. Finally they found it down in the Kidron valley with the weeds grown all over it. The stone that the builders had stumbled over, the stone that the builders had rejected was the capstone!
Practically… Easter means you don’t have to try and make religion “fit” into your life and risk rejecting Jesus and the Good New. Easter means you are already accepted by God, and Jesus will help you, yes, shape and mold you, to find your fit in Him!
Because Jesus is THE STONE OF REDEMPTION
Here’s the redeeming power of Christ… As the Cornerstone He’s like the load-bearing wall or beam or stone in a building! I built my own house in MD… and the blueprint called for several load-bearing beams and walls that had to be fabricated to precision to handle the weight that would rest on them! They were not optional! The house could not be built, could not stand without them! And the truth is, though some walls can be moved to enlarge a room, etc., once everything is in place, everything is working together to hold the house together! Every part has redeeming valuing because in the end, every part, every wall, every cement block, every 2×4, 2×12, laminated beam, is a critical part!
You see, God says that all of us have redeeming value– you are worth redeeming! Why? Because God knows that when you realize you are already accepted- no “stone” will be rejected, and you accept what Jesus has done for you… you’re able to lean on and line up with Christ, and now you are an integral part of the Church that He is building! Jesus, in this sense is the I-Beam, the load or weight-bearing wall, the cornerstone that the entire building relates to and rests on.
And that’s the power of REDEMPTION! All of us leaning on Christ and learning to lean on one another. That because of Christ, I’m a part, and you’re a part, they are a part, and we’re leaning on and lined up with Christ and we’re all helping to hold it all together! Jesus Christ is the redeeming cornerstone of it all!
Now, somebody here would say, “Sounds great Terry, but I don’t think God can use me unless he buries me way down deep somewhere in the basement in a wall no one will ever see! I’m just not good enough. I’m too flawed- my life looks like a warped 2×4 or a cracked cement block!”
But that’s where the redemption comes! Sure, sometimes by the standards of the world or what religion requires, you’re inadequate, I’m inadequate! But by the standards of God through His grace, through giving his one and only Son (Jn. 3:16) we’re redemption worthy!
Practically, Easter makes it possible for any and all of us to come to Christ and find acceptance, not rejection, because Easter is all about REDEMPTION!
Here’s why! Jesus is THE STONE OF RESURRECTION
Jesus, in his time on earth said himself, “The cornerstone that the builders rejected now has become the head of the corner (cornerstone).” Luke 20:17 Now get this. This is why we are here today, talking about this and celebrating Easter! Jesus was talking about His own resurrection…
And because of that resurrection power: overcoming death, life over death, He certainly doesn’t want you to reject him, he wants you to know there’s redemption to be found, and that he can come into your life and into my life. And He can take that flaw, that sin, that garbage, that shame, that rebellion, and He can even put us back into the foundation of the church, where we lean on, line up with, and realize just what we have in Jesus Christ and in the strength of each other!
We’re flawed, but we’re redeemed AND because of the resurrection, we’re not just bad people being made good, WE ARE THE DEAD WHO HAVE FOUND TRUE LIFE!
We were warped 2×4’s and cracked cement blocks and now we’re “living stones” in the beautiful and glorious church that Jesus is building! You can be a part of that!
Ephesians 2:20-21 (The Message) God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.
And this “building” that God is constructing is made up of all kinds of people! Which to me, is just more evidence of he transforming power of the Cross and Resurrection!
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