BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS

Scripture Reading:  Acts 10:1-32

“You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean.”  (Acts 10:28)

By the providential hand of God, Peter was brought from Joppa to Caesarea where he met a God-fearing Gentile named Cornelius.  God clearly orchestrated the events that led to this meeting.  This historic meeting would open a new chapter in God’s great plan of redemption.

Prior to his visit with Cornelius, Peter received a vision from God:  “(He) saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth.  In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air and there came a voice to him:  ‘Rise, Peter, kill and eat’” (vs. 11-13).

It was through this vision that Peter came to understand that the barriers between Jews and Gentiles had been broken down.  The various ceremonial laws that separated the Jews from the Gentiles were abrogated.  God now opened the message of the gospel to all mankind — Jews and Gentiles alike.

The Apostle Paul wrote about this new development in redemptive history in his letter to the Ephesians:  “Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands — remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  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 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, making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing hostility” (Ephesians 2:11-16).

Do you realize what this means?  Christ has broken down all barriers that separate people from one another — racial, social, and ethnic barriers are gone!  This means we can love and accept all people regardless of these differences.  The gospel blows up all of these things that separate us and causes all believers to be one in Christ.  The cross made racial and ethnic reconciliation possible.  It removes walls of hostility and brings reconciliation between those who once were alienated from one other.

Lord Jesus, You are our peace.  Through the cross you made reconciliation possible between mankind and God.  You also broke down the walls that separate us humans from one another.  Today enable me to accept people regardless of their racial, ethnic, or social backgrounds.  Thank you for the fact that You have brought me, who was far off, near to You through Your atoning sacrifice.

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