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On the cross, Jesus reconciled us to God, and to each other

March 28, 2024

Daily Scripture

Ephesians 2:14-17, Colossians 1:19-22

Ephesians 2
14 Christ is our peace. He made both Jews and Gentiles into one group. With his body, he broke down the barrier of hatred that divided us. 15 He canceled the detailed rules of the Law so that he could create one new person out of the two groups, making peace. 16 He reconciled them both as one body to God by the cross, which ended the hostility to God.
17 When he came, he announced the good news of peace to you who were far away from God and to those who were near.

Colossians 1
19 Because all the fullness of God was pleased to live in him,
20         and he reconciled all things to himself through him—
        whether things on earth or in the heavens.
            He brought peace through the blood of his cross.
21 Once you were alienated from God and you were enemies with him in your minds, which was shown by your evil actions. 22 But now he has reconciled you by his physical body through death, to present you before God as a people who are holy, faultless, and without blame.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

In Paul’s world, there were high barriers between Gentiles and Jews. Paul had lived out that bias (cf. Galatians 1:13-14). There was a real physical wall in the Temple in Jerusalem, warning Gentiles that if they passed it, they were subject to death. “Interpretations of purity laws resulted in Gentiles being excluded from the court of Israel (for Jewish men) and even the less pure court of women (for Jewish women). *

  • The angry young Pharisee Saul, who approved of stoning the Gentile Christian Stephen (cf. Acts 7:54-8:1), became the apostle Paul, who wrote, “Christ is our peace. He made both Jews and Gentiles into one group.” What changed him? Do you see any difference between peace as a human effort based on “splitting differences” and weighing interests, and peace based on who Jesus is and who you are in him? Is one more lasting than the other?
  • All major world faiths (including ours) attract some people who nurture feelings of hatred and grievance, and who advocate violence against people of other faiths. How can you differentiate those in any faith who seek to build walls from those who wish to tear down walls and create more goodwill, peace, and cooperation? What attitudes and actions show that you have committed your life to the “one body” (Ephesians 2:16) Jesus came to create?

Lord Jesus, you showed us a better way—you reached out to people who snubbed you, and asked God to forgive the soldiers who crucified you. Help me to live into the power of your love. Amen.

GPS Insights

Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory serves on the Resurrection staff as Human Resources Lead Director. Janelle finds that her heart is constantly wrestling with the truth that she needs a Savior, and the times when she's at her very best are when she's just too tired to put up a fight.

Let’s play a game. I’ll show you pictures, and you tell me what these two things have in common.

First up:

You would likely say that the commonality here is that they are both labradors. How about these next two?  

My guess is that you’d say that they are both dogs, and you’d be correct! It’s a pretty easy connection. How about the next one?

Okay, we’ve got a cat and a dog. Obviously, these are not both dogs, but you’d likely identify these as both being pets. Well done, you! But what about this one?

Okay, now it’s getting a little more interesting. We see a bear and a dog. One you’d welcome to your house, the other might claw your face off. Let’s see… if you think back to biology, you might say that they are both mammals. But what about now?

Huh. It’s not so easy to identify what these two have in common. You’ve got a labrador and a jellyfish. One greets you when you come home, wants to be your best friend, and begs you to play fetch. The other swims in the ocean and stings you if you get too close. What could they possibly have in common? I suppose you could identify them as both being animals.

Our little game got harder with each picture. While each of the pairs did indeed share a commonality, the more we went along, the more likely we were to first spot differences. If someone asked, “What is something that is like a golden lab?” I’d likely not give “jellyfish” as my answer. That being said, they are both animals. They actually do have something in common.

As a United Methodist Christian, I find that when talking about a different denomination, my mind immediately goes towards how we’re not alike. They baptize one way, we baptize another. They take communion one way, we do it differently. I see differences in theology and even the way they pray and worship. For whatever reason, my first tendency is to spot the differences rather than consider how we might be alike.

While I recognize that there are differences, I don’t think that God’s desire was for us to highlight them. I think we’re meant to first see how much we have in common. We’re one Church through Christ, and that’s nowhere more evident than when it comes to the cross. Jesus didn’t die for Methodists or Presbyterians or Catholics or Lutherans. Jesus didn’t even die for Christians, he died for sinners, meaning that he died for all of us. The sacrificial love on the cross is not poured out for some but poured out for all. Let’s live into the hope this Easter that while there are differences among us, we’re brought together through death and resurrection.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (p. 10326). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.