This coming Sunday I will be preaching from Colossians 1:21-23. Part of what Paul writes in verse 22 is this:
"…he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death,…"
The 'he/his' that Paul refers to is Jesus, and Paul is teaching that reconciliation with God comes through Jesus' death and not by any other means.
As I was pondering this I was struck by the difference between the life and death of Jesus. The Gospels are full of stories of his life. They tell of his birth, his baptism, the calling of his disciples, the miracles he did and the teaching he did in groups large and small.
Imagine for a moment that you were one of those people close to Jesus during his life on earth. Imagine that you saw him work miracles. Imagine that you heard his teaching. One person asked him, "What is the greatest commandment in the Law?" And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Imagine that you heard Jesus speak those words and you thought, "Yeah, I get that. That teaching is what it is all about and that is the way I am going to live, 110% of the time."
Well, that is a good teaching of Jesus' to hang on to, and it is a good goal to live a life that is obedient to those two commandments. But the truth is that it still wouldn't be enough to bring about reconciliation with God. The life of Jesus was a wonderful thing and there is much that we can learn from it, but it is only in the death that we are restored to wholeness with God.
Paul continues verse 22 like this:
"…in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach…"
Curiously, reconciliation with God is not found in the life of Jesus, but in the death. We move from being enemies of God to being reconciled with him when we believe that the blood of Jesus was poured out for us. When we believe that by his death, by the giving of his blood, our sin is removed, then we are joined with God as his dearly loved children.
Without the death, the living Jesus is a good teacher. By giving his life he is Lord and Savior. His death is what makes it possible to understand his life. At perhaps the most basic level, believing in the purpose of his death is the only thing that matters.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 In the Greek verses 21 through 23 are written as one long sentence. The passage is also translated as one sentence in several English translations, including the King James and the English Standard versions.