No introduction is needed for this passage. Does the Grand Canyon need an illustrative runway to help us see it? Are sunsets incapable of stopping us in our tracks unless we connect to a funny story? I’m a preacher and a writer, so I know how helpful a good illustration can be for some passages. But brothers, this one needs no introduction. We are staring into the radiating wonder of the gospel of grace.
Paul’s been preparing us for this passage, hasn’t he? Think about the previous readings, especially Ephesians 1:15–19, when Paul prayed for our hearts to see the glory of God. Like a dad telling us to get ready to see the Grand Canyon, it’s as if Paul is saying, “Get ready to enjoy it. Drink it in.” Now, we’ve pulled up to Ephesians chapter 2, and it’s time to really look.
You were dead in your sins. Not sick and in need of a lozenge or some vitamin C. You were a spiritual corpse, unable to do anything but continue in the deadness of sin. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the ancient serpent slithered around you, coddling your corpse to continue in sin.
But God—these are perhaps the greatest coupling of words in the Bible.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us,
made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses.
You are saved by grace! (Ephesians 2:4–5).
You were dead. But God…
You were enslaved to sin. But God…
The rich-in-mercy God, brimming with love for you, made you alive in Jesus despite your moral wreckage. You didn’t deserve it. God saw our sorry selves and saved us by pure grace—it’s an undeserved salvation. Our sins were placed onto Jesus there at the cross, and He paid for them in full. He didn’t ask us to leave a tip for the server. He signed for it all. Jesus rose from the dead, raising us sinners up with Him, and it is a 100%-free gift of God. We receive this salvation by faith and trust that Jesus really went to the cross, the grave, and then to the throne for us, exchanging our sins for His righteousness, and giving us a whole new life.
Do you ever wonder why He would do such a thing? Paul points it out to us in verse 7: “So that in the coming ages he might display the immeasurable riches of his grace through his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” We are displays of his grace and his kindness. Another way to answer: God is gracious and kind, and He endured the cross for the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2)—He endured it for us. That’s our God. That’s our message, too; no matter the mess we find ourselves in, God can save each one of us through Jesus. He is alive today, and we are living proof.
Written by J.A. Medders