God's big plan, Paul tells the Ephesians, is to unite all things in Christ (Eph 1:10). And as the letter unfolds, it becomes clear that Jesus is not only the centre and goal of that unity, but the one who achieved it—on the cross. He himself is our peace, says Paul. In his death and resurrection, Jesus smashed down all the barriers of sin and hostility that divide us from God and from one another, and freed us to live a new Spirit-filled life of love, thanksgiving and unity. In He is Our Peace, well-known British preacher and author David Jackman is our wise and helpful guide through Paul's majestic letter to the Ephesians.
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If asked to sum up in a word the experience of living in today’s world, many millions of people might well choose the word ‘brokenness’. In a fallen world, life frequently breaks down. Expectations are disappointed; tragedies strike; relationships break up; families disintegrate; hopes are smashed. Life is broken and it needs to be fixed—but how? All too often disappointment leads to bitterness, hurt to hostility, and cynicism morphs into aggression. We are all aware that ‘Humpty’ has ‘had a great fall’, but who can put the pieces of life back together again, and how might it happen?
Ephesians has God’s answer. Many Christians affirm that this is a letter all about the church, and we shall certainly see why—but we are not its primary focus. It is supremely a letter about the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the head of his body, and from whom the whole church grows “so that it builds itself up in love” (4:16). This is a letter that teaches us about God’s big purposes, on the grandest scale, here in time and stretching into eternity: “to unite all things in him [Christ]” (1:10). It exalts the Lord Jesus and shows us who he really is; what he has done for us, his people; and how the brokenness of our world can only be mended by the gospel of his grace.
If the greatest division of the first-century world—that between Jews and Gentiles—can be healed through the cross of Christ, then there are no broken relationships beyond his loving reach. Since Christ is our peace, reconciling sinful people like us to God as our Father, there can no longer be any barriers to separate us from one another once we are united to Jesus, by faith. The church of redeemed, reconciled believers then serves as a prototype, within time, of what God purposes to accomplish for all eternity. Loving relationships and unity between Christians are the fruit of the love of Christ for his people, seen in his death and resurrection. It is also the proof of his total supremacy over all the hostile powers of evil, including the devil himself, and the demonstration to the whole universe that God’s mighty work of salvation is accomplished, that it is totally effective, and that it will be eternal in its outworking.
Studying this wonderful letter not only deepens our understanding of all that Jesus is and all that he has done for us, but also deepens our love for him. And that makes us want to live to please him, to walk in love as he loved us (5:2). As we study Paul’s practical applications of the gospel to our new lifestyle, we shall be corrected, challenged and above all empowered to live an authentic Christian life in a broken world. Paul’s purpose is that we should become more and more in practice what God has made us to be, and so reveal to the whole world the miracle of restoration and new life in Christ, which is the only cure for our human brokenness.
— David Jackman, November 2011