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Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh – who are called “uncircumcision” by the so-called “circumcision” that is performed on the body by human hands – that you were at that time without the Messiah, alienated from the citizenship 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 used to be far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Let’s read this one backward. “In Christ Jesus, you who used to be far away (from God) have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Whenever there was an Old Testament sacrifice that involved blood, the blood would be sprinkled on an altar or burned in a fire or even put on the lid of the Ark of the Covenant. Of all the things in the Old Testament Law that could make you unclean, the blood of the sacrifice always made things clean.
Today when we hear all of this stuff about blood, most of us get squeamish and think that all sounds too brutal and gruesome to be civilized, much less holy. Keep in mind that this was all done in a culture that was familiar with killing animals and preparing them for dinner all in the same yard and all in the same afternoon. In cultures that haven’t changed much since ancient times, they still send a few little boys out to throw away the guts. They weren’t so removed as to not know how dinosaur nuggets got into those cool shapes.
The thing that blood meant to them, in this context, was that blood was equal to life. If the blood was out of something, it was really dead. Because Jesus shed His blood for us, we can know that He was really dead. We have been brought near because Jesus Christ really died. We weren’t part of God’s chosen people, but now we are citizens and part of the covenant of promise. The blood sacrifice of Jesus was enough for us.
The Jewish people stood out wherever they went. They had strict food laws, different haircuts, and were exempt from the mandatory military service that every other Roman colony had to submit to. In their temple was a sign that said “No Gentiles past this point. If you cross the line, your death is your own fault.” (Not the kind of sign we have at our welcome center, is it?!) They were all about separation from the Gentile world because every time they mixed into the culture, God had to do something drastic to clean them up again.
That division, assigned by the work of men and decided by the work of men, was obliterated by Jesus’ death on the cross. Just like whatever silly list we make of black, white, white
A lot happened on Easter, and when Jesus defeated death and appeared to numerous Jews and Gentiles from all different lands, this was just one of the effects.