Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 – Jesus Is the Cornerstone

Jesus the Cornerstone by Gloria Ssali

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever!

Let Israel say,
    “His steadfast love endures forever….”

The Lord is my strength and my might;
    he has become my salvation.

There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous:
“The right hand of the Lord does valiantly;
    the right hand of the Lord is exalted;
    the right hand of the Lord does valiantly.”
I shall not die, but I shall live,
    and recount the deeds of the Lord.
The Lord has punished me severely,
    but he did not give me over to death.

Open to me the gates of righteousness,
    that I may enter through them
    and give thanks to the Lord.

This is the gate of the Lord;
    the righteous shall enter through it.

I thank you that you have answered me
    and have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the chief cornerstone.
This is the Lord’s doing;
    it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the Lord has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it. (New Revised Standard Version)

God is the expert on turning our song of lament into a song of victory.

From the Christian perspective of the Lord’s resurrection from death, it is a great song of celebration. The horrid torture and death of Christ on Friday turned to wonderful rejoicing on Sunday with a risen Lord. Life is now different with an empty tomb. The stone the builders rejected is now the head cornerstone.

Our worship is transformed. Instead of offering the blood of bulls and goats, like the select group of the Old Testament priests did, we are now all priests who now offer spiritual sacrifices because Jesus took care of the sin issue once for all. 

Christians continually offer to God their worship of Christ and live a holy life in grateful response to Christ’s death and resurrection.

Jesus is our cornerstone, the center of life and worship. Priority for the Christian faithful is allowing God to build us into a community of faith that worships Jesus with lives dedicated to knowing him and making him known.

Christian worship is the expression of a relationship in which God the Father reveals himself and his love in Christ, and by his Holy Spirit gives grace, to which we respond in faith, gratitude, and obedience. 

That means all of life (and not just a Sunday morning worship service) is to be a daily rhythm of God’s revelation to us, and our response to God in faith, thanksgiving, and an obedient life.

People, at their core, exists for worship. For the Christian, worship is grounded in the triune God and centered in Christ. Worship is the heart and life response to the revelation of God in Christ. Encounters and experiences of God’s revelation to humanity, and our response, form us into faithful disciples.

Author and Pastor Emeritus, Stuart Briscoe, once told the following story: 

“Many years ago, during the Cold War, I traveled to Poland for several weeks of itinerant ministry. One winter day my sponsors drove me in the dead of night to the middle of nowhere. I walked into a dilapidated building crammed with one hundred young people. I realized it was a unique opportunity. Through an interpreter I preached on maintaining Christ as the center of our lives as Christians.

Ten minutes into my message, the lights went out. Pitch black. My interpreter urged me to keep talking. Unable to see my notes or read my Bible, I continued. After I had preached in the dark for twenty minutes, the lights suddenly blinked on, and what I saw startled me: Everyone was on their knees, and they remained there for the rest of my message. The next day I commented on this to one man, and he said, ‘After you left, we stayed on our knees most of the night. We wanted to make sure we were remaining in Christ and centering our lives in him.’”

Since Jesus is the cornerstone, the center of our devotion, worship does not center in a style or an outcome. We may too often evaluate worship on whether or not it works, or if it emotionally moves us because of a particular musical or liturgical style. Whenever worship is designed for our tastes and preferences, Jesus Christ, as the center of worship, can easily be lost. 

With Christ as the chief cornerstone, the true object of worship, all kinds of differing styles can be pleasing to God. Worship itself is to be evaluated not by the satisfaction of personal preference, but by its acceptance by God.

Firmly built on Christ the cornerstone, worship becomes less about gaining truth, and more about letting truth gain us and capture us. The more we pay attention to the presence of Jesus Christ through song, prayer, Scripture, and sacrament, the more we will experience the centrality and power of God. True worship captures God’s heart and passion for the world. Jesus becomes very precious to us when we align ourselves to him as the cornerstone of our faith and worship.

So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service.

Romans 12:1, CEB

We build our lives on Jesus, the cornerstone of our faith, every day. Pleasing worship is both the responsibility and the privilege of every believer. We are embodied beings; we speak through vocal chords; we move with our legs; we act with our arms; we cannot communicate nor do the will of God apart from our bodies. 

Jesus, as the cornerstone upon which all is supported, means that acceptable worship can happen anywhere. Everywhere can become a sanctuary and a sacred space – home, neighborhood, and marketplace – as well as church. In all these locations, Christian discipleship will prove itself.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

Ephesians 2:19-22, NRSV

Several years ago, a man named Matt had an aunt who had struggled for years to make ends meet. When her health started to decline, she was forced to sell her fifty acres of property to pay for health care. As an act of kindness, Matt traveled to Massachusetts and bought the land from his aunt for the appraised value of $50,000. While exploring the land to see about building a house, he discovered outcroppings of stone ledges.

Matt contracted a geologist, who surveyed the land and informed him the stone was actually Goshen stone, a type of mica used for sidewalks, patios, and landscapes. At the time, it sold for $100 a ton – and Matt had about 24 million tons on the land. The appraised value on the surface was $50,000, but some experts estimated that the land was possibly worth up to $2 billion.

Jesus is the precious cornerstone. He is much too valuable to be left in a church building. And there is so much more to him than surface appearances. Let God drill deep into your life and show you the infinite worth of Jesus Christ. Explore him. Worship him. Offer your very life to him. Shape yourself around him. Center all things completely in and around Jesus. Discover just how precious he is. Let your love be long for Christ.

Lord Jesus, Son of God, Son of Humanity, have mercy upon us.

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