Verse for today – “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity (Eph. 2:14-16).”
Perhaps some of you have watched the movie, “Remember the Titans.” Although the movie strays quite a bit from the truth, in real life the main idea is the same—several schools come together to form one and the resulting football team, in spite of lots of racial tension, wins a championship game. The team members learn about each other, learn to play well together, and become a united team.
In today’s verses God brings two groups together as well—Jews and Gentiles. The Jews were “God’s chosen people” of the Old Testament. God gave them the law, taught them about His holiness, and called them to be different and separate from the world. The Gentiles were all others. They were non-Jews. They were the world. They were not allowed into the Jewish temple. They were excluded! To be clear, there was a process for a Gentile to become Jewish, but this was rare. Jesus changed all of this when He died for the sins of all mankind and rose from the grave.
Jesus made these two groups, Jews and Gentiles, into one. Both Jews and Gentiles gain access to God’s presence through faith in Christ. Going back to the movie mentioned above, the divisive factor was racial tension and competition over favorite football positions. In these verses the divisive factor, or enmity, as the verses describe it, was the law of commandments. God’s Old Testament law required certain rituals and sacrifices to pay for peoples’ sins. These laws were a major stumbling block and point of division between Jews and Gentiles. However, Christ was the fulfillment of the law. As the Lamb of God, He was the perfect sacrifice for sin. Now the law is no longer necessary to make anyone pleasing to God. ALL can be forgiven in Christ, Jews and Gentiles alike. Dear Reader, God’s goal is unity for all. As we will soon see, what Jesus is building (by removing barriers and providing forgiveness through faith) is His body, the church. Sin not only separates us from God but also from one another. Gladly God’s forgiveness and renewal removes barriers and brings us together as one in His presence.