Intro. Important to realize the background to understand this passage. There was a deep feeling of nationalism by the Jews. They felt that they were the only ones destined for salvation. Even in the early period of the church this feeling was carried over. When Peter first came to the house of Cornelius a Gentile, he said, "You know how that is unlawful for a man who is a Jew to keep company or to come into one of another nation. Later Peter was called on the carpet so to speak to explain why he took the gospel to the Gentiles. The word used in Acts, is that they contended with him, saying, "You went in to men who were uncircumcised and ate with them." Later there were certain men who had come to the Gentile church at Antioch and said that unless you were circumcised after the law of Moses you could not be saved. Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them. This was the basis for the calling of the first church council. Paul shared with the Galatians the dispute
that he had with Peter over this issue.
But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before [them] all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
I. THE WALL OF SEPARATION HAS BEEN BROKEN DOWN BY CHRIST.
A. "He is our peace, who has made both one."
1. This war, this enmity that had once existed between Jew and Gentile, deep rooted because of tradition has come to an end in Christ.
2. He brought it to an end by making us both one.
B. Jesus broke down the walls.
1. It is interesting how that Jesus commented on the faith of the Centurion in Capernaum. "I have not found so great a faith, nay, not in all of Israel.
2. He made a Samaritan the hero of the man on the road to Jericho beset by robbers.
3. Jesus revealed Himself to the Samaritan woman as the Messiah.
4. Of the ten lepers that were healed by Jesus only one returned to give thanks, "And he was a Samaritan."
5. One of the meanest things they ever said to Jesus was that He was a Samaritan.
C. He abolished the enmity that once existed between Jew and Gentile.
II. AND NOW HE HAS RECONCILED US BOTH UNTO GOD BY MAKING US ONE BODY.
A. The idea of reconciliation is to bring warring factions together in order to resolve their differences.
1. Mankind was at war with God.
2. They were not willing to submit to the law of God.
3. This was true of the Jew as well as the Gentile.
4. The folly of Israel was that of turning from the law of God and walking after their fleshly desires.
5. This also is the folly of the Gentiles.
6. Paul told the Galatians that God has concluded all under sin.
7. To the Romans Paul wrote,
What then? are we better [than they]? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Their throat [is] an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps [is] under their lips:
Whose mouth [is] full of cursing and bitterness:
Their feet [are] swift to shed blood:
Destruction and misery [are] in their ways:
And the way of peace have they not known:
There is no fear of God before their eyes.
Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
8. This is how God viewed man, both Jew and Gentile.
B. He has reconciled us through the cross.
1. Paul told the Romans that we were reconciled through the death of His Son.
2. It is by the death of Christ that the righteous demands of the law, which was death for the sinner, were met, as Christ died for our sins.
C. Both Jew and Gentile have now been reconciled in one body, this is the body of Christ, the church.
1. Christ has slain the enmity that once existed.
2. If you have enmity against the Jew, just because he is a Jew, then the work of Christ is of no effect in your life.
III. JESUS CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE AFAR OFF, (i.e. THE GENTILES) AS WELL AS TO THOSE WHO WERE NIGH. (THE JEWS)
A. This glorious bequest of peace that Jesus gave to His disciples, applies to us also.
1. "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth, give I unto you, let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid."
2. This glorious message of peace has come to us who were once afar off. Our lives were far from God thus far from peace.
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech [you] by us: we pray [you] in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
IV. "TROUGH HIM, WE BOTH HAVE ACCESS BY ONE SPIRIT TO THE FATHER."
A. Herein is another blessing that is ours through Christ, that is access to the Father.
1. It was sin that for so long blocked my access to God.
2. I am amazed at the attitude that some people have toward the access to God. They can be thankful that He is a gracious and merciful God.
3. To the Jew in the Old Testament covenant, access to God was through the blood sacrifice offered by the priest. God was separated by the veil in the temple. This was for the people's protection. Sinful man approaching the holy God would be destroyed.
B. We now, once strangers and aliens have access to God by Jesus Christ.
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
1. Jesus said, "I am the door of the sheep."
2. Again Jesus said,
All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and [he] to whomsoever the Son will reveal him].
3. Peter said concerning Jesus,
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
For [there is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;