Summary: We as born-again believers have been given the ministry of reconciliation and as Christ's ambassadors are to implore the world to be reconciled unto God!
Online Sermon: http://www.mckeesfamily.com/?page_id=3567
In Apostle Paul’s time reconciliation or the removal of enmity between two aggrieved parties was sought using an ambassador. A person was chosen for such a role in Roman society due to their high level of education, eloquent speaking, and their knowledge of the wishes and desires of the leader of their nation. The ambassador was “kept in the loop” of not only the politics of their own country but the list of reparations that might be offered to the foreign leader in times of conflict. Sometimes the Ambassador was sent to live in a foreign country so that they might better understand their culture, economic, military, and political landscape to aid them in negotiations both at home and abroad. When disagreements broke out between two nations diplomatic envoys would be sent between the “warring nations or communities in conflict” in hope that some kind of “common ground” could be found so that peace and reconciliation might occur. However, in “ancient times usually the inferior nation would send an ambassador to seek reconciliation with the superior one, not the other way around.” In most cases the ambassadors were highly respected and protected which was often accomplished by being “friends of one’s friends and enemies of the enemies of the foreign nation.” While to be an ambassador was the crowning achievement of one’s diplomatic career, it was not a position without risks for if negotiations went sour then they could be executed to send a message to the other nation of their great displeasure! In today’s passage Paul masterfully uses the Greco-Roman ambassador to intimately describe the ministry of reconciliation God has given first to His Son Jesus and then to each born-again person.
Before we talk about the ministry of reconciliation lets first look at the offense that caused the war! From the moment God said, “let there be light” one can’t help but stand in awe of His creation. Looking at the beauty all around him King David said, “the heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands” (Psalms 19:1). The Bible states humans were made in the image, or likeness of our Creator (Genesis 1:26). God formed us from the dust of the ground and breathed life into our nostrils (Genesis 2:7), crowned us with honor and glory as those created a little lower than the angels (Psalms 8:5). God loved us so very much that He walked and talked with us in the Garden. He entered a covenant with us which was “to be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth, and subdue it, and to not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 1:28-30, 2:15). Then Satan came along and exposed the very same pride by which he had fallen (Ezekiel 28:1-19) in us! When he asked Eve “did God really say you must not eat from any tree in the Garden” she lied by saying that God told her they were not even to touch the tree (Genesis 3:2). Satan then told her that she would not die from eating the fruit of this tree but instead her eyes would be opened, and she would be like God, knowing both good and evil (Genesis 3:5). What Satan neglected to tell humanity was that we would not only prefer to do evil over good but would become enslaved by it (John 8:34). No longer would our thoughts, words and deeds be focused on walking and talking with God in the Garden of Eden but instead we would ignore the eternity God has placed in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and forever wrestle with and be enslaved by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). We became gossips, slanderers, God-haters, arrogant and boastful (Romans 1:28). We invented ways of doing evil to the point that God regret creating humanity and had it not been for Noah’s righteousness none of us would be here today (Genesis 6:5-8)! Having rejected God’s right to rule over our hearts we freely broke His covenant and in doing so “earned” His righteous wrath and since there is no darkness in Him at all (1 John 1:5-7), we rightly received the wages of our sin, death (Romans 6:23), and eternal hell!
God’s Ambassador Jesus
Being the inferior party who alone broke the covenant an ambassador should have been sent from humanity to our sovereign God to seek reconciliation. Due to our love and enslavement of evil we were not either willing or able to send an ambassador for as Apostle Paul stated, “there is no one righteous not a single one; there is no one who seeks God” (Romans 3:10). Even if we were to present God an ambassador, he/she would be rejected because our filthy rags of “vain oblations” are “defiled, filthy, polluted, and wretched” to a holy God who is sinless! God was the one who “took the initiative” and sent His own ambassador, His Son Jesus, to provide how we might be reconciled unto our Creator. Imagine how difficult it must have been for Jesus to empty Himself of the status He had in heaven (Philippians 2:6-8) to be born and live amongst those who not only rejected but also crucified Him upon a tree! And yet God’s plan to offer His Son as an atonement was the only means by which sinful humanity, even though they be created in His image, could be reconciled until the One who was without spot or blemish! “On the cross, the perfect, He who knew no sin, Son of God became replacement sin. The Bible says, He became sin on our behalf. All the sins of the world, on the cross was placed on Christ.” “God is now free to face the sinner because the death of Christ satisfied His just, holy, demands.” The crucifixion of Christ not only satisfied God’s justice but also enabled humanity through faith in the atonement of His Son to be part of His family as heirs. Christ died once and for everyone so that regardless of what nation one belongs too, class, genealogy, or economic status one can be reconciled and receive every spiritual blessing in our Lord Jesus (Ephesians 1:3)! Praise be that we go to heaven based on faith and not works (Ephesians 2:8-9) or if that were true then all would perish, and none would get to see walk and talk in the garden with our Father ever again!