It is undoubtedly true that when the Scriptures speak about ‘Christ and the Cross’, they do so primarily in terms of his person and work being ‘for us and for our salvation’, as the Creeds declare to us. Paul’s words in the Epistle to the Ephesians bear this out in spades.
The Daily Office Lectionary has had us reading through this Epistle sequentially, and today we come to chapter 2:11-23. Here Paul, speaking to a primarily Gentile audience, rejoices that because of the cross those ‘who once were far off have been brought near’ to God and into the People of God. He goes on declare that Christ became and remains ‘our peace’ having ‘broken down in his flesh (his incarnate and crucified body) the dividing walls of hostility.’ He has done this by ‘creat(ing) in himself one new man in place of the two’ –thus becoming the New and Last Adam giving birth to a New Humanity, — and ‘by reconciling us both to God in one body through the cross’. Paul then draws this train of thought to a conclusion by saying: ‘For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.’
There you have it: New Creation through Reconciliation heading towards Consummation and all because of‘Christ and the Cross’!
The glorious good news of the Gospel is that through the Son (his life, death and vindication), in the Spirit (given as gift through faith and baptism), we (both ‘Jew’ and ‘Gentile’) have access to the Father (we can draw near to the One through whom and for whom we were created). All of this is truly ‘for us and for our salvation’.
But Paul does not stop here!
He goes on to speak about our present reality, where this New Humanity, ‘built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets’ — the Scriptures — ‘Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone’ is being built up ‘into a holy temple’. The purpose of this ‘new creation’ and this ‘reconciliation’ is the building up of this ‘holy temple’.
And to what end?
‘In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit’
‘Christ and the Cross’ are indeed ‘for us and for our salvation’ giving us ‘access to the Father’, BUT ‘Christ and the Cross’ are also ‘for the Father’ that he, through the Spirit, might have ‘access’ to us! That he might make of us ‘his dwelling place’.
That truly is a stunning thought.
I encourage you to reflect on and rejoice in it this day.