[You are] built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. (Ephesians 2:20)
The cornerstone. The Ephesians had a significant understanding of what that word meant. Their city was home to one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. The temple of Artemis in Ephesus was described as “surpassing all buildings among men.” Standing 60 feet high and with 127 columns, the building was a sight to behold. But sadly that building stood as a monument to an idol, a false god who was no more alive than the stones of the building itself.
So Paul directs their attention to a different stone, a living stone, the chief Cornerstone: Jesus Christ. The firm foundation of this living temple is the teaching of the apostles and prophets. The Old Testament prophets pointed to the coming of the Messiah, Christ. The New Testament apostles pointed back to the Savior, Jesus. Those messengers of God’s Word preached the same message of salvation. Salvation is found in Christ alone. Jesus is the Cornerstone.
As you prepare your heart this Advent season, you might find some other stones there. It’s hard not to get caught up in the busyness of this time of year. It’s maybe even harder not to swallow the poison of the “Christmas spirit” our society pushes. Christmas in America has become the most pagan of Christian festivals. Commercialism hides behind the spirit of charity, good cheer, love, and hope. These things don’t offer true rest on their own. Instead they only add burdens to this time of year. You have to find the perfect gift for each member of your family. Your Christmas dinner needs to be Instagram-worthy. You fret over keeping the peace at your family get-together. All these worries settle like stones in your heart.
Let the jackhammer of God’s Word smash those stones. Christmas isn’t about giving the best gift; God has already given you the perfect gift: his Son, Jesus Christ, and the life and forgiveness that come with him. Every communion Sunday you receive a meal with everlasting importance. The picture of Jesus’ body and blood given for you is more beautiful than any social media post. God adopts you into his family of believers. He designates you for an eternal inheritance. You are part of God’s living temple. He has placed you in alignment with the Cornerstone.
All that remains of the temple of Artemis is ruins. What once stood as a wonder
of the world is now crumbled and crushed. Paul pointed the Ephesians to an everlasting building with an eternal architect. Only Jesus will stand the test of time. Everything else will fade. Jesus provides true rest and strength for this season and every other one.
Heavenly Father, crush the stones of idolatry that settle in my heart this time of year. Send your Holy Spirit to prepare my heart for Christ’s second coming, when everything in this world will perish. Help me to put my trust and faith in the eternal Cornerstone that is Jesus Christ. Amen.
Rev. David Starr serves Martin Luther College as an admissions counselor.
Next Worship Opportunity
“I Will Give You Rest”
Wednesday: 3:45 pm and 6:30 pm
Pastor Mike Schultz, Preacher