14For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. – Ephesians 2:14-16
First, a little background: “Made us both one” in Ephesians 2 means Gentiles and Hebrews.
God had, at first, intended for Hebrews to not intermingle with Gentiles. This was so in order to preserve, not their blood line, but their faith in Him. As it turns out, nearly every time the Hebrews intermarried with Gentiles they gave up their faith in God and turn to idols.
What separated Hebrews from the rest of the world was their faith in God. God made a covenant with the Hebrews and reestablished that covenant with the Hebrews throughout the Old Testament.
The division between Hebrew and Gentile was rescinded when Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose again. He was the One who is “the light to lighten the Gentiles” and He is the “glory of thy people Israel.”
So now the separation is taken away – because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It is Jesus’ love that broke down all barriers in the first century.
It is Jesus‘ love that calls us today to break down barriers in this twenty-first century world.
This separation is not ethnic but goes much deeper, to a much more basic level.
“Make one” implies that there was a separation. The separation is between God and the crown of His creation.
The separation is caused by sin.
Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Prince of Peace. Angels declared on the night of his birth that because Jesus was here there would be “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14 KJV).
Not peace “among men” but peace “toward men.” There’s a big difference.
For there is very little peace among men on the earth. Read about that in every paper, on every news site on the web, listen to that on every news cast on the radio and TV.
Jesus came to bring peace, not among men, but between God and men.
We have all been made one for this peace and by this peace.
Jesus Christ removed what separated us from God – our sin.
He reconciled God with you and me. No matter what sin you’ve done – it is forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross. Jesus paid the penalty for that sin and all sin. You are now a child of God who will live forever!
This has the effect of making possible peace with others.
There is a true story related about a church in the Pacific Northwest, who much like us, has a time during the service for passing the peace of Christ. This is a time when they greet one another, and their guests, with handshakes and hugs, and kind words of welcome. Nobody thought much about the weekly ritual until the pastor received a letter from a man who had recently joined the congregation. The new member was a promising young lawyer from a prestigious downtown law firm. He drafted a brief but pointed letter on his firm’s letterhead. "I am writing to complain about the congregational ritual known as ‘passing the peace,’ " he wrote. "I disagree with it, both personally and professionally, and I am prepared to take legal action to cause this practice to cease." When the pastor phoned to talk with the lawyer about the letter, he asked why he was so disturbed about sharing the peace of Christ. The lawyer said, "The passing of the peace is an invasion of my privacy."
And, in the Pastor’s response to this man, we find the truth of the Christian life. He said, "Like it or not, when you joined the church you gave up some of your privacy, for we believe in a risen Lord who will never leave us alone." And, he said, "You never know when Jesus Christ will intrude on us with a word of peace." [illustration taken from sermons.com, accessed July 18, 2009]
Most personal of all is we can have peace with ourselves.
When Jesus removes our sin and reconciles us to God, we can then start to actually live with ourselves. We can stand ourselves again. We can love ourselves. After all, if God can love us enough to send Jesus to die for us, certainly we can love ourselves and others, right?