“As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious…”
1 Peter 2:4 (ESV)
Peter wants his elect exiles to pursue God on a theologically solid footing. So in the next few verses he informs them that they (you yourselves) as elect exiles, are coming to One who was rejected by men but chosen by God, One who was killed but was raised from the dead. Peter reaches into grand Old Testament prophecies and imagery to ready the minds of saints for the difficult path ahead of them by pointing them to the rejection and vindication of Jesus.
The saints would no doubt have been encouraged by the description given here of Jesus. “Rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious.” Peter opened the letter by describing them as elect exiles i.e chosen by God but rejected in this world. Here now they are reminded that their savior, the one whom they have come to, the one calling them to give themselves to holiness in this hostile world was rejected by men. Later Peter will encourage them with the truth that they are not alone in their suffering but that believers around the world suffer as they do (1 Peter 5:9,) here the reader can find encouragement that they share in their Lord’s suffering. But that is not all, this rejected Lord was vindicated by God. He did not vindicate himself, he was vindicated in through his resurrection. Peter will point to this allusion of the stone rejected but ultimately proved to be the chosen one more clearly in Acts 4:10-11. This thesis of rejection and death followed by resurrection and vindication will prove to be the foundational logic of the obedience the elect exiles are called to pursue in the midst of persecution. Do good even when treated unfairly, just like Jesus did, for when all is said and done you will be vindicated, (1 Peter 1:11 and 3:18-22.) By looking to Jesus, we can endure in obedience as we identify with him in his suffering and patiently await the vindication that he has guaranteed for us.
Before moving on, notice how definitive Christ’s life is for the lives of those who chose to follow him. He was rejected but chosen. The saints Peter writes to are elect exiles. Even though on the one hand it is a comfort to relate to the sufferings of Christ and know that our Captain calls us to walk a path that he has already walked, let us also settle that there is no other path to walk. This paradox, formerly mentioned in 1 Peter 1:11, is the all defining pattern for the Christian life, (1 Peter 4:1, 4:12-13.) To come to Jesus means to embrace rejection in this world. The saint that has not settled that in his or her heart will struggle with the call to be faithful to God in the face of adversity. In this letter, Peter will re-teach what our Lord taught him and the other disciples, “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.” Matthew 10:24–25 (ESV). So, follow Peter as he plums the depths of your salvation to ready you for the instructions that will follow. Read Acts 4:5-12 with an emphasis on vs 10-11, look at Matthew 21:33-46, and Psalm 118. These texts will help you understand Peter’s exhortations here. May God graciously strip us of false expectations in our Christian walk and may He surprise us with the discovery of how little we have lost compared to how much we have gained by taking up our cross and following him.
- Do you think of the world you live in as a world that violently rejected your Lord? In what ways does this world continue to show hostility to Jesus?
- In what areas are your expectations for the Christian life our of sync with the pattern that Christ’s life followed namely, suffering then glory, rejection then vindication?
- Pray that our congregation will be equipped with a faith that will compel us to follow Christ when the cost is high.