For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us. –Ephesians 2:11-18
This section in my Bible is labelled Oneness and Peace in Christ. Paul starts in verse 11 talking out Gentiles being the outsiders, the “uncircumcised.” We are classified as Gentiles. The Jews were proud of their “circumcision” as it was an outward sign separating them from the rest of the world. However, sadly, as Paul says in verse 11, it only affected their bodies not their hearts. Before meeting Jesus, we had no idea of the citizenship we could have with God nor did we know of his covenant promises. We lived in this world without God and without hope. Do we remember those days at all? For some of us, this has become a very distant memory because you have been walking with God for many, many years.
Before I go any further, if we look at this passage, the Jews were just as in need of a Saviour as us Gentiles. They were more concerned about keeping laws and being proud of their outward appearance. We cannot condemn the Jews however, because even in our day and age, many Gentiles claim they are Christians because they were baptised, confirmed in the church, wear a Salvation Army uniform, or do a lot of great works. The truth is these people are just as far away from God as the Jews were. They are missing the point. Baptism, confirmation, uniform wearing, and doing great works is not going to get anyone in heaven. Salvation will and only through Jesus Christ. Salvation brings relationship with God our Father. Relationship with Jesus is what changes the heart and the change that happens within our hearts is shown outwardly.
Please do not get me wrong. Baptism, confirmation, uniform wearing, helping others, etc. is not bad in itself. In fact, it is a good thing. It is an outward expression of what God has done on the inside. It’s just not the means of salvation.
In this passage, Paul talks about Christ bring peace to us. Both Jews and Gentiles were far from God. We needed a Saviour. Jesus is our Saviour. He brought us near to him through his blood on the cross. Whilst on the cross, Jesus tore the veil in two, allowing us to come into the holy of holies in prayer. He broke down the wall of hostility between us. Gentiles were able to go into the Temple whereas before they were unwelcomed unless they became Jews.
Paul says that Christ made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating one new people from the two groups. Jews and Gentiles can be saved by our faith in Jesus as the Messiah. Jews have been waiting for a long time for the coming Messiah. So many have missed out on salvation as they continue to look for him. Jesus is the Messiah. He came. He died and rose again and his coming back again!
Gentiles tend to be looking in the all the wrong places for salvation and hope. They have tried the New Age mantra, Buddhism, Yin and Yang, and many other avenues to try to find peace. Jesus is the only way of salvation. He is our peace, hope, and joy.
Paul says our hostility toward each other is put to death (v 16). Oh, how I pray this would be true today. There is so much anti-semitism it breaks my heart. We are a part of Israel. We have been grafted in to the family of God. Through the cross of Jesus, we are one. Paul says in verse 18 we can both come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us. I pray we would love Jews as our brothers and sisters and welcome them with open arms. Jesus welcomes both Jews and Gentiles with open arms. We both have made mistakes, living far from God, doing our own thing. However, praise be to God who sent his Son, Jesus to give his life for our freedom and unity. Praise the Lord for the power of the Holy Spirit allowing us to come to the throne of grace at anytime and anywhere. God is so good!
As I pray this passage of scripture, I pray God would bring unity once again among his people. I pray for peace that surpasses all understanding. I give thanks for what Christ did on the cross. I praise the Lord for allowing us to become with Christ as brothers and sisters. I ask for God’s help to love Jews and Gentiles the same. Amen.