Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (verses 3-5)
It’s the start of a new letter and once again Paul gives greetings with two of his favourite words: grace and peace. Once again, he speaks these words of blessing, rich with theological meaning, over the letter’s recipients – the Galatians and us. Once again, these words pour forth from Father and Son.
What Paul then goes on to say touches the whole scope of human history, indeed stretching into eternity. There are four touch points:
(1) The centre of history. Planted right at that crux is the cross of Christ, where he “gave himself for our sins” (verse 4). That central moment in all human history draws into itself every other moment, because every sin ever committed was placed on Christ at the cross. “He forgave us all our sins” (Colossians 2:13) when we hadn’t yet committed any. Further, when God “in his forbearance … left the sins committed beforehand unpunished” (Romans 3:25), he did it knowing those sins, too, would be dealt with at that cross-roads moment of history. Grace and peace emanate from that juncture.
(2) Right now. Jesus went to the cross “to rescue us from the present evil age” (verse 4). That’s true for every believer who has ever lived at whatever point in history they found themselves. Grace and peace meet us right where we are, rescuing us from the very present reality of evil, right there.
(3) Before time began. Grace and peace come to us “according to the will of our God and Father” (verse 4). In another place, Paul will tell us that God “chose us in him before the creation of the world … in accordance with his pleasure and will” (Ephesians 1:4-5). That’s a long time ago! Before time itself. The Father exercised his will in eternity past.
(4) Forever. The upshot of it all spills forward into eternity, yielding praise to the Father “to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” (verse 5). That’s an endless vista ahead. Grace and peace will reverberate throughout all eternity.
What an amazing view of history! At the centre of all time is the cross, stretching out to touch every other historical moment including mine right here and now, a moment which was planned before anything at all had yet come to be, a moment full of grace and peace that will be celebrated forever and ever. Amen.
Lord Jesus, thank you for entering history, right at its centre, and taking all the sin of every single moment of history upon yourself. Thank you that the impact reaches me, changing me forever.
Father, thank you that before the foundation of the world I was in your sights. Thank you that I will praise you for all eternity.
Thank you for grace and peace.
Reflect: Every moment of history and eternity is touched by grace and peace – all because of the cross. That includes every moment today. Consciously receive that blessing for this day right now. Pause often throughout, and receive it afresh.