What I’m Thinking: Cornerstones

Arrested and brought before the Temple leadership, Peter and John could only say what they believed to be true: that God had done in Jesus things that nobody would expect. They, too, and the man they had healed also acted beyond expectations.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the fourth chapter of the book of Acts (Acts 4:5-12), which I can’t actually do without thinking about the third chapter of the book of Acts.

In the third chapter Peter and John went to the Temple to pray. They found there a man who could not walk, whose friends would bring him to the gate in order that he might ask for gifts, support, alms (to use the old word) from the people as they came to worship. Peter said, well, we have no gold or silver for you, but I will give you what we can, and that is, in the name of Jesus Christ to get up and walk.

Peter proceeds to explain why it is that this power was available so that this man could find his healing, and the reason was the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Well, there were folks there who found that message unsettling, people who are probably best understood as people like myself: The religious authorities, the priests, those who kept order in the Temple. They arrested them, they imprisoned them, and that brings us to the fourth chapter of Acts, which is their trial before the Temple council.

At that trial, they make no real defense except to claim that they could do none other than what they had done. They could only tell the truth as they understood it. They could only offer the grace and power of God as it given to them. Most of all, they had to share the good news of Jesus, that in Jesus God had taken the stone that the builders rejected and turned it into the chief cornerstone.

It’s in these stones that the builders rejected that so much of the conflict of human life is found. We… we are not great stonemasons, first of all. A great stonemason will understand which stone can bear the stresses of being at the corner, and which stones need to find some other place in the building. That is what a stonemason does.

Human beings, however, come up with all sorts of reasons to explain why this person does not belong in this place; why this person does not deserve the regard and the respect that all others are entitled to; why this person can lead and this person must follow. We use race. We use gender. We use religious affiliation. We use national origin or identity. We use, “I just don’t like your face.”

Peter, of course, was making the claim about one very particular cornerstone, and a cornerstone not for any building but a cornerstone for the entire human family, that indeed the relationship between God and people rests upon the grace and the life of Jesus. And while that might seem to be at a distance from our casual identification of cornerstones and non-cornerstones, it is not. Appearances deceive frequently.

And we might start with that man who could not walk, there by the gates, who looked for all the world to be of no particular importance. But his conversation with Peter and John led not just to a different life for him, one which we take it he desired, but also that became the occasion for Peter and John to take on their new responsibilities as witnesses for Jesus, as representatives of Jesus, as leaders within this movement which became what we call the Christian Church.

A cornerstone in a man who could not walk. A cornerstone in a man who had denied that he knew Jesus. A cornerstone in one who was crucified and is risen.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Send me an email, or leave me your thoughts in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: | Posted on April 19, 2021

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1 Comment

  1. by Janet

    On April 19, 2021

    Touching: moving! Peter and John proved that Jesus is alive. The question for myself is, “How is the Holy Spirit active inn my life?”

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