We are now on our Lenten journey to Holy Week which culminates with our remembrance of Jesus’ last supper on Maundy Thursday, his crucifixion on Good Friday, and his resurrection on Easter Sunday. I want to look closely with you at three different images used in the New Testament to illustrate how Jesus’ sinless life and sacrificial death achieves our salvation, including the forgiveness of our sin. This is the first of three such devotionals between now and Easter Sunday.
We have all experienced a conflict with a coworker, friend or family member resulting in estrangement and alienation. According to biblical teaching, our relationship with God also involves alienation and estrangement. In that relationship, it is we who are to blame. We have walked away from God, or ignored God, or purposefully disobeyed God’s will for our lives. Even though we are responsible for distancing ourselves from our loving Creator, it is God who took the initiative to repair and restore that relationship – through Jesus’ sinless life and sacrificial death.
Alienation is one way the Bible describes the result of sin. In the story of Adam and Eve (Genesis 2 & 3) our forebearers deliberately rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden. They foolishly chose to eat the single fruit forbidden them in the midst of an abundance of all kinds of edible and attractive foods. As a result, alienation occurred between humans and God, between humans and creation, and between Adam and Eve. To dramatize this estrangement, God drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden.
This reality is reinforced for us when we read Isaiah 59:2 – “Your iniquities (sins) have been barriers between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” The New Testament directly addresses this reality of a relational distance or barrier existing between ourselves and God due to our sin. The Gospel tells us about the good news of Christ’s reconciling work, enabling reconciliation between sinful people and our holy God. The image of God’s reconciling grace I find most moving is Jesus’ description of the father (God) running to embrace his errant son and welcome him home, restoring their broken relationship in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
Paul writes at 2 Corinthians 5:17-20, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
One implication of Jesus’ reconciling work is that we too are called to become peacemakers ourselves, in two ways. First, God wants to use us in sharing the good news that all people are invited into a personal relationship with God through Christ, the Great Reconciler. In addition, God also wills that we seek reconciliation with others with whom we have a serious disagreement or conflict. As Jesus taught (Matt. 5:9), “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” God bless you as you seek to share the Good News of Jesus the Reconciler with others, and also seek to become a reconciler yourself!
Published on March 17, 2022