This is the stone which was set at nothing of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
For the Scripture figure here used the following passages may be compared: - Isaiah 28:16; Ephesians 2:20-22; 1 Peter 2:7. The construction of our modern buildings does not permit of special importance being given to a foundation, stone. We now put in memorial stones. Very probably the Scripture figure is taken from the immense work of masonry, found necessary at one corner of the temple area, in order to complete the sacred precincts. This corner foundation, raised right up out of the valley, made a deep impression on the Jewish mind, and was regarded as the foundation of the temple. Some prefer to think that reference may be to the virgin rock which was probably covered by the holy of holies. A foundation, in the sense of a basis-truth or principle, is necessary for a religious system or a personal faith. Here St. Peter's words are addressed to certain persons, and we consider -
I. THE BUILDERS. Such the Sanhedrim regarded themselves as being, because they were at the head of the ecclesiastical government of the people; they settled the order of ceremonies, duties, and obligations, and required men virtually to take their religion from them. They would advise and direct, and the people should have no will of their own in religious matters. Explain that a new rabbinical system had grown up round the Mosaic, and crushed out its life. For this rabbinical system, as bringing the people entirely under their sway, the members of the Sanhedrim were so jealous. Fix attention on the exceeding peril and amazing folly of men in trying to formulate and impose a religious system, when one had been fully revealed and its principles adequately detailed. No wonder they went astray, binding burdens on men's shoulders grievous to bear. No wonder they were wholly wrong, both in their foundation and in their superstructure.
II. THEIR FOUNDATION-STONE. What can man's foundation, for any religious system he may construct, ever be but works - man's works? There is nothing else they can select. If they want anything better, they must give up trying to find it or to lay it, and let God both find and lay. Disguise it how we may, call it by what skilful names we please, men's foundations for religious systems or personal hopes are always self; something we can do ourselves. Illustrate from other systems than Christianity, showing that self and self-service and works are the foundations of Brahmanism, Mohammedanism, heathenism, and Catholicism. Those trying to feel confidence in the foundation-stone of self are sure to pass by, and fail to find interest or attraction in, the stone God offers to lay in Jesus Christ, the sure Foundation. This point may be urged in its application to personal religious seeking and experience. Many a man has had to see the utter ruin of his buildings raised on self, before he could find interest in, or care to build upon, the Rock of Ages.
III. THE CORRECTION OF THEIR MISTAKE. The great Master-Builder interfered, choosing his own good and wise time. Sanhedrims and rabbis could only be under-builders. Because of their willful errors he puts them aside, and sets forth the apostles in their stead - just as, in older days, he made prophets take the place of incapable priests - and bade those apostles lay firmly down the despised Stone, even Jesus, the Nazarene. It is to be the very Head of the comer, and the whole erection of the Christian Church is to lean safely up against it and upon it. Impress that still there are mistaken builders, who pass by Christ, and assume authority to lay other foundations. And still it is as true as ever it was, that God makes Jesus Christ, for each soul's salvation and life, the "tried Stone, the precious Corner-stone, the sure Foundation; and he that believeth on him shall not be ashamed." - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.