Jesus Brings an End to the Hostility
“For [Jesus]…is our peace, who has made [Jews and Gentiles] one and has broken down…the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man… so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.” Eph. 2:14-16
Paul declares that Jesus is our peace. Through his obedience in life he fulfilled all the righteous demands of God’s law. Through his obedience in death he paid the penalty for our rebellion against God’s law. Jesus is our peace with God and each other.
The implications of this are incredible. At the cross Jesus destroyed all walls of hostility that existed between a rebellious mankind and a Holy God, as well as the walls of division between races, classes and backgrounds. He has made the way for healing relationships between individuals and groups where there has been offense and enmity.
For this reason, Paul refers to the body of Christ as ‘One New Man’: a “new humanity” made up of men and women of every race and culture who live together in the unity of the Holy Spirit. God has called the Church to be a blessing to every people group on earth. We exist in the world to show what life looks like in God’s kingdom, which will be known in all its fullness when Jesus comes again.
On the Island of Patmos, John saw amazing visions of the throne of God. In one of these he proclaimed, “…I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb,… crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”’” (Rev.7:9-10 ESV)
This is a vision of God’s purpose for us: people from every nation around the throne of God, delighting in relationship with him and each other forever. This glorious vision draws the church into Christ’s mission today. It is his desire that people of every race, tribe and culture would put their trust in him and be made a part of this great multitude—called to make this good news known everywhere they go.
In his book Peace Child, Don Richardson tells the story of how this great truth came alive among the Sawi people of New Guinea where Don and his family went to share the gospel in the 1960s. The Sawis were a warlike and cannibalistic people with a culture of violence and treachery. As Don told the story of Jesus' betrayal, the Sawis considered Judas the hero of the story! When told of Judas betraying Jesus, they chuckled and cited one of their favorite sayings, "Fatten him with friendship for an unsuspecting slaughter."
Don and his wife, Carol, wondered how they would ever be able to get the great story of God's salvation across to these people. War broke out between this village and another and for weeks the tribesmen fought and killed each other. Finally Don said to the tribal leaders, "If you don't stop fighting, we will have to leave." The Sawis did not want this because the Richardsons had brought medical care and other things they wanted. They also saw having a foreign family among them as a status symbol.
Some leaders came to Don that night and told him, "Tomorrow we will make peace!" The next day Don and Carol watched anxiously as the warring tribes gathered opposite each other. Emotions were high; women were crying. Finally, a young man from their village grabbed his only child, a small baby, and rushed toward the enemy lines. He said, "I give you my son, and with him, my name!" A man from the other side approached and presented his baby in the same way in exchange. Each child was referred to as the "Peace Child." As long as the Peace Child lived in the village, peace was supposed to be maintained with the child’s home village.
Don found a cultural bridge that allowed the gospel to come to the Sawi people. As he again told the stories of Jesus, he spoke of a loving Father who wanted to make peace with us—his enemies—and crossed to our side by sending his Son to us. "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called…Prince of Peace." (9:6). Don was able to tell the Sawis that because Jesus died and rose from the dead, he is God’s perfect Peace Child once and for all. He brings peace between mankind and God the Father, and peace between one tribe and the other: a peace that lasts forever for those who trust in him.
As Don shared the story of Judas’ betrayal this second time, one man said, "If Jesus was the Peace Child, it was the worst thing anyone could ever do to betray him." The room fell silent…from that time on those Sawi people began trusting in Jesus.
These believers began sharing this good news with other tribes. All who heard and trusted in Jesus began to experience peace with God and each other: a peace that could only come through God’s eternal Peace Child. They had tasted the reality of that One New Man; that redeemed multitude from every tribe. This propelled them into Christ’s great mission!