Reading for Eighth Sunday after Pentecost: Ephesians 2:11-22
Peace be with you!
Emperors built different portions of the Great Wall of China, especially during the fourteenth century. These walls created a sense of security by keeping the people who lived there safe and keeping others out. In ancient times, Jews and Gentiles were two separate groups and were separated by a visible delineating marker—circumcision (Ephesians 2:11). The Jews lived and worshiped in Jerusalem, while the Gentiles lived and worshiped elsewhere. The Jews were defined by the clear marker of their God-given law as well. The wall marking who was in and who was out was always present.
Then God sent Jesus Christ into the world to break down the dividing wall (Ephesians 2:14). Metaphorically, God takes down the great dividing wall and welcomes all people—Jews and Gentiles alike—to be in a relationship with him. There is no longer a need to be circumcised or to keep the ceremonial law in order to be counted as God’s children.
God creates peace between the two groups and makes one in Jesus’s name through the cross; God becomes accessible to all people (Ephesians 2:15-18). Jesus gives us grace that tares down the wall of the law and gives us peace. The Jews have a difficult time accepting they are one with the Gentiles, because they are used to being special. The Jews have kept the law and the commandments, but now the game has changed. There are these new things called grace and forgiveness, which allows even the worst sinners and unclean to be loved by God and to enter the most holy places. This radical change is difficult for the Jews to accept and appreciate.
Jesus becomes the cornerstone of the faith system, which allows us to be in a relationship with God the Father (Ephesians 2:19-20). Jesus breaks down the great dividing wall in order to allow all people—Jews and Gentiles alike—to enter the holy temple to worship the Triune God. Everyone is made clean through the blood of Jesus and is welcomed into a relationship with God the Father. Nothing can keep us from God’s love.
This foundation supports the work of the apostles and prophets and brings together all of creation. It gives both Jews and Gentiles the assurance that anyone who believes in the Triune God will enter heaven where God dwells (Ephesians 2:21-22). With this assurance, we receive the promise of salvation and eternal life through God’s work in Jesus and in us as we continue his work in the world.
In a world where lines are drawn, God comes through Jesus Christ to redeem all people, regards of race, economical standing, ability or disability, political views, or religious beliefs. God gives us gifts of forgiveness, grace, and salvation through Jesus. God makes us whole and redeems us by knocking down the great dividing wall. He gives us a new foundation through Jesus and assures us a place together in heaven.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for knocking down the great dividing wall and welcoming all people—Jews and Gentiles alike—into your family. Continue to redeem us from our sinful nature and work within us to do your work in the world. Thank you for the assurance we will enter your kingdom. Amen.