“AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR”
Chapter two, verses 11- 22
Remember. Paul seems to back track just a bit here. After tell us gentiles what a glorious inheritance we have received by grace, we are told to remember that at that time when we were spiritually dead in our sin, we were not only separated from Christ, but also from Israel. Wonder why one should make such a fuss over being different? Well, the answer lies in the phrase tucked neatly away in verse fourteen. “He is our peace…” Now, it is not the universality of peace that matters in this case, it is the “kind” of peace. Jesus brought down a very important wall that separated the rest of the world from the Jewish nation. The Hebrew people followed the Levitical law made up of ordinances and statutes, many of which declared the gentiles an unclean people. They thought of themselves as the only ones on earth “heaven bound”. Ever met anyone like that before? When Jesus came, people thought of His message as radical and subversive, because He tore down that wall of separation between people. Many of the “religious” Jews just could not stand the thought of integration with “those” people, and for years, they caused problems within the Christian church. Yes, the Jewish converts to Christianity even caused those problems. Sound familiar? Just what did Jesus tell us that we should now remember?
We are fellow citizens, on the same level ground with our Hebrew friends, and are equal in God’s eyes. A man in my old church used to say, “The ground at the foot of the cross is level, and we all stand on it.” Jesus also said of Jews and us gentiles that we are both one house, built together on one foundation, and inhabited by the one Spirit of God. Jesus declared Himself the chief cornerstone. The corner stone in those days was more than just a marker, it was a stone that held and arch together, and kept it from falling apart. Two sides of the arch, coming from opposite directions, reaching toward each other and joined by the master stone. Jesus made the peace between gentiles and Jews then, and He is still the prince of peace today.
If only the gentiles and all the Semitic peoples in the Middle East would heed the words and imagery, found in this passage. He is our peace, for those who are far off and those who are near.
It was the old covenant of ordinances, the do’s and don’ts that built up the wall between people then, and it is the same today. When one group decides that their way is the only way, that everyone must keep a certain set of practices, then the walls go up and the depth of peace dissipates. We must endeavor to tear down the walls, and live in the liberty of peace that Christ has so graciously afforded us all.
September 16, 2006