“The Preaching of Peace”

“The Preaching of Peace”  Ephesians 2:11-22
The 9th Sunday after Pentecost (B)  7/22/18
Pastor Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL

“And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.” (Ephesians 2:17)

The “he” is Jesus. The “you” refers to far more than the first recipients of this apostolic letter – Paul writing to the Christians at Ephesus some 1,960 years ago.

The “you” refers to Jew and Gentile alike, the circumcised and the uncircumcised down throughout the ages.

The “you” refers to all men and women, all teenagers and children of every race, color and ethnic origin. Yes, the “you” … refers to YOU… and to me… to us who once were far off, once lost and condemned creatures.

To US, the very Son of God has come… the Master, the Messiah… our Savior, Redeemer, Lord and King. He has come and continues to come to us in the divine service. As we begin our service, every service, “in the name of the Father, and of the X Son, and of the Holy Spirit” He is here in our midst.

As then, so too now… it is Christ Himself who preaches to us… whether from His own lips… from the mouth of the holy apostles… or now, through His called and ordained pastors.

And to think… His message then and now to us… to all… is the same, exactly the same. It is one of peace, proclaiming peace, true peace, precious peace to all the earth, to all who inhabit the earth… to you… and to me.

He speaks to us so lovingly… so dearly and sweetly. They are words of reconciliation. Words, His Words already on the lips of the prophets of old as He tells Isaiah,

Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” (Isaiah 40:2)

He speaks to us… Christ speaks to us so lovingly… so dearly and sweetly. They are most certainly words of peace.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid,” our Lord said. (John 14:27)

Here’s a silly question, but I will ask it anyway. How many of you desire peace in your life right now?  How many of you have it right now?

There are a million and one resources out there in this world to supposedly help you find peace, know peace, live in peace. And they present a myriad of ways purported to help you secure the same in your life… for a price, of course.

But then again, the peace which surpasses all understanding… the peace which our Lord preached and proclaimed… what He promises and what He most assuredly delivers… also comes with a price. Or… more accurately said… it CAME with a price… the highest in fact. One which He, Jesus, paid in full on the cross at Calvary.

You see, what prevents peace… true, long and lasting peace… always has and always will be one thing… sin. Where sin is found and where it abounds there can be no peace. There will be no peace!

This refers to the sins that we commit, but also the sin in which we were born. The state of sin inherited by all mankind… that which is the reason for… the very cause of … the state of “hostility” that exists between us and our holy and righteous God.

It has been that way ever since Adam and Eve. It would still be that way… yes, for both Jew and gentile… for the circumcised and the uncircumcised… if it were not for our Lord Jesus Christ and what He did… what He accomplished on the cross which St. Paul, here in our Epistle text, puts so wonderfully.

He here holds up for both Jew and Gentile the peace that is there for them both… for us all.

The Jew considered “near” by being of the nation favored of God, chosen by God, through which the Messiah would come. And the gentile, once far off because of their pagan gods, pagan ways and pagan beliefs. To both… to all… there is peace in Jesus.

We read: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both [Jew and gentile] one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both [again Jew and gentile] to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.”  (Ephesians 2:13-16)

How amazing… the killing, crucifying of Christ brought about the killing of the hostility that had separated us from God.

There and then… on the cross… as Christ declared “It is finished” and gave up His spirit… the hostility ended… once and for all.

How can that be? Because the one thing causing the hostility… the one thing separating us from the Lord our God… was blotted out… all of our sins, blotted out… gone forever… remembered no more.

Hostility replaced by peace. This is what our Lord came to earth to accomplish and what He did so perfectly and wonderfully.

Hostility replaced by peace. This is what our Lord came to earth to preach, to declare… that which is still being preached for all to hear and rejoice in… take comfort in.

The peace that is yours and mine right now and forevermore in Christ Jesus. You heard what our text says. He Himself… Christ Himself is our peace (Ephesians 2:14).  Christ! No one else. Nothing else. By no other means. No other way to have peace, dwell in peace, enjoy peace… than in the One who is the very Prince of Peace!

Peace… in the midst of adversity. Peace in the midst of trials and tribulations. Peace even while carrying, while bearing up under the crosses we shoulder and the difficult times we go through.

Peace… in Jesus. Peace… by way of the cross. This is what we preach, what we believe, teach and confess. Because it is real. And we have it, because we have Him! Amen.