17He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. (Ephesians 2:17-18, NIV)
According to the verse above, Christ came and preached peace. What does this mean?
When we read the verses, we might, at first, think of the literal preaching of Jesus. He promised to give peace to His disciples (John 14:27). And He did begin the Sermon on the Mount by saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9). Yet, in the context of Ephesians 2, it’s likely that preaching serves as a metaphor for the crucial work of Christ, who actually brought peace through His death on the cross (2:15).
Paul’s language of “preaching peace” is inspired by two passages from the prophet Isaiah. In Isaiah 57:19, the Lord speaks to His people, offering “peace, peace to those far and near.” Isaiah 52:7-10 celebrates the coming of the Lord to Zion, where He will comfort His people and redeem Jerusalem. The Lord’s messenger will proclaim peace, bring good tidings, and proclaim the salvation of God. Christ fulfilled the prophecies of Isaiah by being the One who not only proclaimed peace, but also the One who actually brought God’s peace to the whole world.
What was the essence of Christ’s peace-focused “sermon”? As we have seen, His death brought peace between Jews and Gentiles by removing the barrier that had once separated them. But the immediate context of verse 17 suggests that the peace Christ “preached” was, first of all, an announcement of peace between God and all of humankind.
Certainly, Jesus was a unique preacher of peace. He alone forged lasting and pervasive peace through His death on the cross. As followers of Jesus, we too have been called into the ministry of preaching peace, or, as Jesus puts it, peacemaking (Matthew 5:9). In our words and deeds, in our desires and intentions, we are to be people who commend, embody, and foster the peace of Christ, the peace that is full of justice and flourishing. We are to do this, not only in church and family, but also in every place God sends us: in our offices and shops, in our classrooms and boardrooms, in our neighborhoods and nations.
As you reflect on peacemaking, in what ways do you “preach peace”? Where in your life is there a need for the peace of Christ? How might you be a peacemaker today in your circle of influence?
Holy Spirit, lead us to do something today that helps make peace. Whether small or significant, may we communicate God’s peace through our lives.