Of late I have been taken with one of the apostle’s terms for the thrilling and captivating message of God’s invasion of his rebel creation in the person of Jesus of Nazareth in his description of the Christian’s dress/armor: the gospel of peace. And, the more I reflect, the larger that designation becomes. “… and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace(Ephesians 6:15). What with Good Friday just a few weeks away, it’s worth unpacking that. How are we to understand what makes the message of Jesus, of his life, death, and resurrection, to be the thrilling, all-consuming message—this, after all, is the meaning of the word ‘gospel’—of peace? How does a Roman executioner’s scaffold become a message of peace? And what is the peace that it achieves? Here are a few clues:“For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”  – Colossians 1:20 –

“For in himself is our peace, who has made us both one [Jew and Gentile, ordinarily hostile to one another [ and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility … that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through his cross …” – Ephesians 2:14-16 –

That, in turn, brings us back to the reality that somehow we have become estranged/hostile to God, and to one another. The opening chapters of the Bible point to the fact that we are made to find our true humanity as we walk in intimacy with God our Creator, and so in total harmony with each other and with God’s good creation. Then, disrupting that scene, is the emergence of the mystery of evil and an evil personality, who suggests that if we become autonomous, or assert the we ourselves and can be our own gods, that we will be free, … and it all ‘goes south from there’. Life without God becomes a boundless, bottomless, sea of chance … humankind looking for answers.

And what you have in the Jesus, the Son of God, on the cross, is God himself bearing the consequences of our rebellion, and experiencing the totally hopeless and night-marish darkness, abandoned by God, on the cross—suffering the consequences of our rebellion—and so making peace. I love the hymn by Fullerton:

“I cannot tell how silently He suffered,
As with His peace He graced this place of tears,
Or how His heart upon the Cross was broken,
The crown of pain to three and thirty years.
But this I know, He heals the broken-hearted,
And stays our sin, and calms our lurking fear,
And lifts the burden from the heavy laden,
For yet the Savior, Savior of the world, is here.”


This all becomes the more awesome the longer one reflects on it. Lent is a good time to do so.

[By the way, the hyperlink for my recent book contained an error in the last  blog. Here is (I hope) the correct one: ]

About rthenderson

Sixty years a pastor-teacher within the Presbyterian Church. Author of several books, the latest of which are a trilogy on missional ecclesiology: ENCHANTED COMMUNITY: JOURNEY INTO THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH, then, REFOUNDING THE CHURCH FROM THE UNDERSIDE, then THE CHURCH AND THE RELENTLESS DARKNESS. Previous to this trilogy was A DOOR OF HOPE: SPIRITUAL CONFLICT IN PASTORAL MINISTRY, and SUBVERSIVE JESUS, RADICAL FAITH. I am a native of West Palm Beach, Florida, a graduate of Davidson College, then of Columbia and Westminster Theological Seminaries.
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