Text: Isaiah 57:1-21, Luke 12:4-7, Ephesians 2:11-22
I did not grow up in a Christian home. If we did attend church, we did so sporadically—but most Easter holidays, for sure. I had heard a smattering of Bible stories and knew about Jesus through the Catholic grade school I attended. And even then, I was drawn to Jesus.
I will never forget that day in the third grade when we had an Easter observance, the Stations of the Cross, during the school day. Our class filed into the sanctuary and began moving from picture to picture, pausing at each image that depicted Jesus on the day of His crucifixion. By the time we got to Jesus on the cross, I was in tears. Even hearing that He rose again didn’t comfort me. I couldn’t understand: how could something so awful happen to someone so good?
Still, as moved as I was, I felt far from Jesus. I didn’t know Him and I didn’t know that I could know Him. I didn’t know that He came to earth to die for me, so that I, Kim, could be saved. In my mind, the classmates who could walk to the front and take communion were the ones who were close to Jesus. I had to sit in the pew as they got up and filed past me. They were included, while I never thought I was.
In college I met friends who had grown up in church. On a couple of occasions, I attended Sunday service with them, watching as they opened their Bibles, knowing exactly where to turn at the pastor’s direction. They could quote Scripture and knew references to people and stories throughout the Bible. Once again, I felt far from Him, while others got to be near.
Maybe that’s why I so love the heart of God in these words: “‘Peace, peace to him who is far and to him who is near,’ says the LORD, and ‘I will heal him’” (Isaiah 57:19). In Isaiah, God is revealing His plan for the world; salvation would extend to all nations and all people, not just His chosen people, Israel.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16, emphasis mine). Jesus’ earthly lineage came through the people of Israel, but He is the eternal God. Before the foundation of the world, His divine plan was for Jesus to be Savior of all.
“Peace, peace to him who is far and to him who is near” is joyous news for us all. Jesus’ arms are open unto us no matter where we’re from, how we were raised, or what we’ve done. So often we feel far from God because of things we’ve done, but the truth is there’s nothing that can that can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:39).
It is Jesus who makes it so. His death on the cross paid a debt we could never pay. In Him, we are forgiven and able to dwell closely with our Lord, ever near. Peace with God through His Son is a gift overflowing with mercy, love, and grace. This is the God who beckons to us, not once, but twice—peace, peace. By the power of His Spirit may we turn to receive it and to rest in Him.
Kim Cash Tate is the author of several books, including Though I Stumble (2016) and Cling: Choosing a Lifestyle of Intimacy with God (2017). A former practicing attorney, she has a passion for studying and teaching the Word of God. Kim lives in St. Louis with her husband and their two young adult children.