Focal Passages: I Peter 2:1-10
At the beginning of chapter 2, Peter paints three pictures that draw us in to understand how we grow up into our salvation that was described in chapter 1.
Picture 1: Hungry Babies. The first picture Peter paints is of a baby longing for milk. We are like this little baby in two particular ways.
We need milk. A baby needs milk because it is vitamin-rich and packed with nutrients essential for proper development. Likewise, in order for us to “grow in respect to salvation,” we need “pure spiritual milk,” (v. 2). This pure spiritual milk is God’s Word, and as we read it, it nourishes our spirit and grows us in godliness.
We desire milk. A baby doesn’t realize he needs milk, he just knows he wants it. Having tasted milk, when he feels hunger, he searches for it. It’s the same for believers. Peter said we desire the spiritual milk when we have “tasted that the Lord is good” (v. 3, Psalms 34:8). Those who truly have tasted the Lord’s goodness will desire Him. When Jesus awakens in us a taste for the eternal God, we are never again satisfied with temporal goods. Jesus becomes the object of our craving, the only food that will satiate our rumbling stomachs.
Picture 2: Living Stones. Peter’s second picture is of stones that are alive. Peter’s language indicates he is speaking to each of the believers being a single, living stone that is being fitted together with other stones. This means we need one another. This spiritual house that God is building as His Church is not three or four big boulders — it’s billions of little stones being placed purposely together to make a strong, resilient structure. Every living stone has a place in this spiritual house.
In this house, Jesus is the cornerstone that supports the billions of little ones, giving soundness and support and bringing unity. Without Christ, there is no building.
While Jesus is the One who unites His believers, He is also the One who divides them from unbelievers. Peter says in verse 6, “whoever believes in Him will never be put to shame” (cf. Isaiah 28:16), but for those who “rejected” Christ, Jesus becomes a “stone of stumbling,” (vv. 7-8). In other words, you are either trusting in Him or tripping over Him. You are either being built upon Him or broken over Him.
Picture 3: Royal Priests. Peter’s third picture is this: a kingdom of priests. Normally nobility and clergy are separated. One governs the state, while the other governs the church. One serves the people, while the other serves the Lord. Peter combines these two normally separate offices into one idea: a kingdom where everyone is a priest.
Peter says that our purpose in being a kingdom of priests is to “offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ,” (v. 5). The former priests were qualified because of family, the new priests because of faith. The former priests offered animals, the new priests adoration. The former priests repeated the sacrifices over and over, the new priests rejoice in the sacrifice that was once for all. We rejoice because we “once were not a people, but now are God’s people” and we “had not received mercy, but now have received mercy,” (v. 10).
What’s the common denominator in all three pictures? Jesus. We crave the pure milk of the Word, and Jesus is the Word (John 1). We are being built into a spiritual house, and Jesus is the cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). We offer the sacrifice of praise as a kingdom of priests, and Jesus is our King (Psalms 24) and High Priest (Hebrews 10). Praise be to Jesus, who called us “out of darkness into His marvelous light,” (v. 9).
— Washburn is pastor of First Baptist Church, Greenbrier.