1 Peter 2:7-8
To you therefore which believe he is precious: but to them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed…
This is a recognition of the practical religious value of the Christ — of what He is to those who have put Him to experimental tests. All the qualities that constitute preciousness are in Him, in a degree of excellence that imagination cannot overcolour, that even love cannot exaggerate.
1. In respect of rarity, He is the only Saviour of men; the "one Mediator between God and man"; the only hope of sinful souls.
2. In respect of beauty, He is the perfection of all moral excellence.
3. In character He is ideally good, pure, devout, benevolent, loving.
4. His work, as the Redeemer of men, realises our very loftiest conceptions — first, of moral philosophy; next, of spiritual holiness; next, of self-sacrificing love.
5. In respect of serviceableness, of personal beneficial relations to men, as their Redeemer from sin, His preciousness transcends all our words or thoughts.
(1) We might apply a comparative test, and put the preciousness of Christ into comparison with all other possessions of our human life. How does our practical judgment estimate Him? Or we might subject Him to a comparative estimate with other good men; His character with that of all other saints; His teaching with that of all other prophets; His redeeming work with all other schemes for human improvement. How instinctively we give Him the transcendency!
(2) Our estimates are largely influenced by the judgments of others. Let us think, then, of the estimate put upon Christ's character and work by other moral beings. Is it not significant of His excellence that He attracts the most readily and attaches the most profoundly the holiest and noblest natures?
(3) The conclusive appeal, however, is to the conscious experience of our own religious souls: "If so be we have tasted that the Lord is gracious." This is the ground upon which myriads of religious men, men whose knowledge is limited, whose theology is confused, whose reason is easily baffled, who are able neither to defend their Christianity, nor theoretically to understand it, justly trust in Him. They have personally come to Christ; He has consciously quickened the life and the love of their souls; they "know that they have passed from death unto life," that "whereas once they were blind, now they see." His Divine presence witnesses in their souls. In some mystic way He is their daily Saviour, and Sanctifier, and Comforter.
I. Is not Christ precious to us WHEN WE GROPE AND STUMBLE AT THE MYSTERY OF GOD, when we feel that "the gods of the heathen are no gods"? When we cannot by any searching of our own find out God; when a thousand possibilities of ignorance and superstition torment us with vague and nameless fears; what a marvellous revelation of light and power of assurance it is when Jesus Christ puts before us His great teaching of God; when, with the strong confidence, and in the quiet ways of perfect knowledge, He tells us of the Father! Upon the conceptions of God which Jesus Christ has taught us our religious life rests. These ideas are the practical inspirations of what we are and do. In the sore feeling of our rebelliousness and guilt we go to Him, as the prodigal to his father, to ask the generous forgiveness of His fatherly love. In the helplessness of our need we cast ourselves upon the care of Him who clothes the lily and feeds the raven. Whether true or not, this conception of God is the greatest, the most inspiring, the most satisfying thought ever presented to men; the highest, purest, most endearing that the world has known.
II. How precious the Christ is WHEN THE SENSE OF SIN IS QUICKENED within us, when we awaken to the grave culpability of its guilt, when we realise its essential antagonism to the Divine holiness, its transgression of God's inviolable law, the imperative necessity of its dread penalty of death! The moral sense, the conscience within me, that which makes me a moral being, demands atonement for sin as much as my safety does. Mere security is no moral satisfaction to a righteous being. I could not be happy in the salvation of Christ if I were saved as a man is saved who breaks prison, or to whom the prison doors are illicitly opened; if I were saved at the cost of a single righteous principle. How unspeakably precious, then, the Christ when He is "set forth as a propitiation for sin," "who Himself bare our sin in His own body on the tree." "He loved me, and gave Himself for me." True or not true, it is, to say the least, a theory of forgiveness, the most perfect and satisfactory to all the feelings of our moral nature.
III. How precious again is the Christ IN OUR STRUGGLE WITH PRACTICAL EVIL, as we fight with lusts, resist temptation, overcome worldliness, subdue selfishness, or mourn over failures and falls! How assuring and helpful His perfect life, His promised grace, His ready and tender sympathy! But for Him we should have despaired in our degradation and helplessness. Again we say, this conception of Him, true or not, is practically the greatest moral force that we feel. Therefore He is precious to us, because He enables the moral redemption of our soul.
IV. How precious the Christ is IN TIMES OF GREAT SORROW; when we stand by open graves, and "refuse to be comforted because those whom we love are not"! How He comes to us, as He came "from beyond Jordan to Bethany"! How He talks with us about "the resurrection and the life"! How He weeps with us in the silence of ineffable sympathy!
V. And how precious He is IN OUR OWN MORTAL CONFLICT; when "the shadow feared of man" falls upon ourselves; when "heart and flesh fail"; when human love falls away from us, and we hear its receding voices as we go forward alone into the dark valley! "Into His hands we commit our spirit"; "His rod and staff comfort us"; His hand clasps ours; He leads us through the darkness into the eternal light and life.
(H. Allon, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,