The Bible uses various terms to describe what Christ has achieved by his life, death and resurrection. That work is so rich that no one term is sufficient to cover everything he has done for us. One aspect of Christ’s work is reconciliation – between God and sinners and then between forgiven sinners. Consider Ephesians 2:11-18 Christ the Peacemaker.
1. Jew and Gentile divided
One of the deepest divisions know to history has been that between Jews and Gentiles. The two have often regarded each other with suspicion. The Jews did not fit into an immoral and polytheistic Gentile world. The Jews’ position as God’s chosen people too often was twisted into a source of pride (see v11). The two were also separated by the ceremonial system set down in the Mosaic Law – ‘the law with its commandments and regulations’ (v15). This provided ‘the dividing wall of hostility’ (v14 ESV). The Jews were undoubtedly a privileged people (Romans 9:4) – in sharp contrast to the Gentiles who were ‘excluded…foreigners…without hope and without God’ (v12). Nevertheless, both are lost spiritually. Many Jews rejected their Messiah and failed to use the clearer light the Lord had given them. At root the Jew-Gentile division is caused by alienation from God. That is first of all the ‘hostility’ of v16. People are alienated from God and so from one another.
2. Christ’s sacrifice offered
To achieve human reconciliation the root problem has to be dealt with – the enmity between God and sinners. That has been accomplished by the work of Christ – ‘we are brought near through the blood of Christ’ (v13) and ‘he himself is our peace’ (v14). The goal of Christ’s work was ‘to reconcile both of them to God through the cross’ (v16). The death of Christ first brings about reconciliation with God, because he has ‘put to death the hostility’ (v16) between God and his redeemed people (2 Corinthians 5:18). The ceremonies of the law pointed forward to Christ and he has fulfilled them. He reconciles Jew and Gentile ‘by abolishing in his flesh the law’ (v15). The experience of this reconciliation is not to be thought of apart from the response of faith (God’s gift, v8). As a result of the work of Christ sinners ‘have been brought near’ (v13). This is the foundation for human reconciliation.
3. Jew and Gentile united
True unity between Jew and Gentile is possible only in Christ, based on his work of making peace between God and sinners. Christ ‘preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near’ (v17). By faith in Christ Jews and Gentiles receive the same salvation. This results in a unity that transcends earthly differences. ‘His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace’ (15). Saved by grace they are united to Christ and so to one another. The place of unity is the church, the body he fills perfectly (1:23). The history of the early church shows that there can still be problems and tensions, but the basis for unity is in place. The Holy Spirit is the bond of unity – ‘we both have access to the Father by one Spirit’ (v18). As we come closer to God, we come closer to one another. That is the unity in Christ that will last eternally.