For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. Colossians 1:19-23
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace…”
In his last and perhaps most memorable major speech, his second inaugural address given on the steps of the Capitol, Abraham Lincoln pleaded with a divided nation to bind up its wounds.
Journalist Noah Brooks reported: “Chiefly memorable in the mind of those who saw that second inauguration must still remain the tall, pathetic, melancholy figure of the man who, then inducted into office in the midst of the glad acclaim of thousands of people, and illumined by the deceptive brilliance of a March sunburst, was already standing in the shadow of death.”
Within weeks, Lincoln would be shot dead.
What will it take for men and women to reconcile? Is there any hope for peace, or will we always be at war with each other? What hope is there when a good and noble man is shot dead?
What hope, when they crucified the Holy One?
Peace on earth should have been possible without the blood of the beautiful Shepherd, but it is the way peace came. “Peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Col. 1:20). There God did what only God can do.
Now it wouldn’t make much sense for God to provide a way of peace between himself and individual human beings, but no way for human beings to make peace between themselves. It may be true that this world will always have wars and that neighbors will always fight, but the peace that God brings between individuals and himself does bring chapters of reconciliation into the human story as well.
PONDER: Can you think of someone who made peace at significant personal sacrifice?
* * *
The Cruciality of the Cross
“He who understands the cross aright… understands the Bible, he understands Jesus Christ.”
Emil Brunner, The Mediator
“Christ is to us just what his cross is. All that Christ was in heaven or on earth was put into what he did there…
You do not understand Christ till you understand his cross.”
P. T. Forsyth, The Cruciality of the Cross
“The death of Christ is the central point in history; here all the roads of the past converge; hence all the roads of the future diverge.”
Stephen Neill, The Truth of God Incarnate
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