Summary: Jesus tore down walls to unify us and welcome us to the presence of God.
The Walls are Gone
Ill. From our earliest moments, we tend to focus on differences. There is a story about two apples in a tree. One of them said, “Look at those humans. They find reasons to hate and fight each other over everything.They are stealing, killing, going to war, committing crimes, hurting one another….Why, some day they will kill themselves off and we apples will be all that is left.When that happens, we will rule the world.”
The other apple asked, “Which of us? You red ones or us green ones?”
This week’s sermon was supposed to be part of last week’s sermon, but I am sure you didn’t want me to preach an hour last week. We will drop back one verse to tie these passages together.
Ephesians 2:13-22. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by 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, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
One of the most amazing things happened after Jesus rose again and the Church was mobilized by the Holy Spirit. Historically, Israel had been a separate people from the other nations. Many tribes of the world were hostile while some tribes were friendly.
When the nation of Israel moved to Egypt under Joseph, they were warmly welcomed. However, during the next 430 years of that stay, the Egyptians grew to resent the Jews. When 2 million people left Egypt to trek through the wilderness to their promise land, they were not welcomed by the nations there. Primarily, from that point on, the Jews have dwelled with a hostile world.
In Jesus’ day, the saying was, “The Jews hate the world and the world hates the Jews.” It seemed to be that way from the beginning and still today.
The German version of the Holocaust was terrible and cruel in sheer numbers. 6 Million Jews were murdered by the Nazi leaders. But the hatred for the Jews was no greater in that than in most of their history.
Yet after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, this Christian movement started with a handful of Jews and reach out to all people. In the earliest Church, it was almost a spectacle; for the first time, Jewish and Gentiles worshiping together, worshiping this leader named Jesus. The change was unexplainable to the secular world. Many came and found Christ because they had not seen anything like that in their lives.
The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, pushed that theme as central to Christianity. He teaches us that Jesus tore down walls…..
I. In the Nations.
Eph 2:14-16 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by 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, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
(Picture the Jewish Temple layout). Please look at the picture you have been given of the layout of the Jewish Temple. That area on the upper left is the Gentile court. That was as far as any Gentile could go into the Temple area. Everywhere else was forbidden and separated by a stone wall.
Some Gentiles were proselytes into the Jewish faith. But they could not go past the Gentile Court. So in the worship services, they were separated from the Jews.
The thing that amazed the world was that in the Church, there was no wall of separation. It was as if Christ had broken down the thickest barrier that separated people.
Ill. In our SBTC State Convention, the focus was on making our Churches look more like heaven. We have just ended a term with a black president and many Hispanic officers.