7.10 Ephesians -- Reconciled Through the Cross
e. and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
The Cross, or more specifically the Crucifix, the Catholic image of Jesus on the Cross, is the new altar, the Holy of Holies, the meeting place of God and man. It is the only place where Creator can interact with creature without destroying or overpowering him. Here the hostility between God and man is fully resolved. And this is also the only place where human conflict begins to find its resolution – regardless of past history, guilt, blame, and injustice. One cannot carry personal hatred into the Tabernacle, nor can one perpetuate injustice after leaving it. Because sin is the source of conflict with God and among men, forgiveness of sin must involve reconciliation in both dimensions.
But the specific conflict that Paul is concerned with here is that of Jews and Gentiles. In this passage he is not referring to Jesus Christ the source of social peace (although that is true). He is addressing the age-old exclusion of the Gentiles from participation in the plan of God on earth. That exclusion is now over, he is saying, and Jew and Gentile are allies in a common task, indeed partners and brothers in bringing the message of salvation to the world. The two communities, one God's people and one rejected, are now one community of faith centered on Jesus Christ.
This solution works only for those who are "in Christ." Non-believing Gentiles and traditional Jews retain their hostility to each other. And the Jews have lost ground. Having rejected the atoning blood of Jesus, they continue to serve God under an obsolete covenant which no longer suffices to remove sin. Therefore the Bad News of the Gospel to the Jewish nation is that the Jewish people not only continue to have perpetual conflict with the Gentiles, but now they experience the rejection of God. Only the "one new man" receives the blessings of the New Covenant – the enduement of the Spirit.