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Luke is telling us about how the early church was led to resolve a major crisis in God’s Story of salvation. A meeting takes place in Jerusalem. Peter, Paul and Barnabas share the exciting news about how God has been saving Gentiles, winning them to faith in Jesus as Messiah and Lord, giving them the great gift of salvation, the Holy Spirit!
James, Jesus’ brother, who has become the leader of the church, has listened very carefully. And, by the grace of God, he comes to see what God is up to in the world. God is including Gentiles into his people, as “his own people”! James sees that this has been the plan all along, and that God has been saying this all along. Pulling together references from the Prophets and the Law, he preaches the good news: “Then other nations will turn to me and be my chosen ones.”
Arriving at this conviction was no small miracle. The barrier between Jews and Gentiles in the first century was thick. But James could not deny what Peter and Paul and Barnabas could not deny. God had jumped over the wall, and was bringing his salvation to people of every ethnicity and cultural heritage.
James asks only for some minimal moral commitments… all quite life-giving when you think it through.
Don’t miss the wonder of James’ words. God’s purpose in choosing Israel is finally being realized – the Gentiles are coming in! It has been the plan from the beginning of the Story.
God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by grace, our Father, Praise be to you for your grace that includes us, that makes us your chosen people. Grant us grace to be who we are so that many others will want to be included too. In Jesus’ name. Amen.