Lent Devotions 2010: Wednesday 24 March

“… and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.”  Ephesians 2:16

In the surrounding verses Paul is addressing the division between Jewish and Gentile Christians in Ephesus.  When we think of conflict between Jews and Gentiles in the Bible some obvious examples spring to mind: David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Israel had a history of hostility with her neighbours that stretched back centuries before the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Paul teaches that Jesus has reconciled these differences through His death on the cross.  This wasn’t just a let’s-stay-out-of-each-other’s-hair reconciliation either.  Paul says that the two are made one body, a new man, members of the same household.  It’s no wonder then that both Jewish and Gentile Christians of the time struggle with the idea.

Sometimes our families are a lot like this uneasy household of Jews and Gentiles.  We may seem to coexist peacefully.  However, old wounds, long histories of tension, and child-induced sleep deprivation all foster division.  We become strangers and aliens to one another.  The root of our problem is the same as that of both the Jews and the Gentiles of Biblical times.  It’s not so much that we’re at odds with one another, as that we are at odds with God.  Sin and its consequences make us strangers to God and His promises.  We are as hostile to Him as any Gentile baddy of the Old Testament.  This broken relationship with our heavenly Father naturally leads to broken relationships in our lives.  We see this effect between the Jews and Gentiles whom Paul addressed and within our own families today.

Still, here’s Paul preaching peace and reconciliation for believers through Christ’s death on the cross.  This is not peace of convenience, dependent on good behaviour and lack of provocation between the two parties.  Rather, it is a performative peace.  Christ has reconciled both parties to His Father, has forgiven their sins and has made them one spiritual body.  Therefore, in God’s eyes there is no longer any division within the household of His saints, and their lives begin to reflect that reality.

The same is true in our own homes.  Christ’s death and resurrection reconcile each of us with our heavenly Father.  He has killed the hostility between us and God, opening our lives and our homes to His message of peace.

Lord, by the life, death and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ forgive our sins and reconcile us to You and to one another.  Bring peace to our churches and our families through the sure gifts of Your Word and sacraments. Amen