It is a common understanding that we limit the purpose of Jesus first coming to his work on the cross for the purpose of the forgiveness of our sins and for personal salvation. Such understanding, although true and part of his purpose, is certainly a reductionist approach to what Jesus came to accomplish through his first coming.
A careful study of Scriptures reveals that the purpose of Jesus coming is wider in scope than just for our personal salvation. So, I would like to propose that Jesus came to restore “shalom” in the three main spheres of life. But what is “shalom”?
Shalom is this grand-narrative unifying all of scriptures. It is also the holy grail of human existence and of God’s redemptive purpose. The term shalom is commonly used as a greeting. However, its meaning is wider than just a greeting (10%) in the Old Testament (OT). In the OT, 25% of its usage has to do with peace & harmony or the absence of conflict between two parties. Even more often (65%), its meaning has to do with wholeness, completeness, connectedness, oneness, or integrity as apposed to brokenness. In addition, it can refer to welfare, and human flourishing and prosperity. In the New Testament, the Greek word equivalent to shalom is “Peace” and is mainly used in the same manner as above.
But why restore shalom? Because at the “fall of man”, described in Genesis 3 and the following chapters, there was a major breakdown and disconnect that happen between man and God, between man and man and within man himself. Prior to the fall, man was in perfect harmony with God, with others and with or within himself. But at the fall, man died spiritually and was separated from God (Gen. 2:17, 3:23). A breakdown in human relationships also started to take place (Gen. 3-6). Moreover, man started to experience within his soul things he never did before, things like shame, guilt, fear, etc. (Gen. 3:7). Brokenness took place and man started to use external means to cover & “heal” his shame & vulnerability.
This resulted in a need for restoration and God promised to send someone (Gen. 3:15) to restore shalom. Jesus was the one appointed and sent by God to do so in these three spheres of life.
In John 17:20-23, in his High Priestly prayer, just before his death, Jesus expressed his desire for us to have the same communion with the Father he himself had and also for the people of God to be in communion with one another just as he is in communion with the Father: “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity.”
Jesus came to restore our connection with the Father and with one another so that we may have life and love for one another. But not only that, Jesus also came to repair and restore our soul & our brokenness as we follow him (Matt. 11:28, Jn. 10:10). At the cross, Jesus “took up our “infirmities” and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53: 4). Our infirmities are not only physical but also moral, psychological and emotional. Jesus can offer healing and rest when we spend time with him in his presence. Shalom is the essence of the kingdom of God and Jesus is the mean to restore it. At his second coming, Jesus will restore it in its totality (Rev. 21:1-5). Jesus is our shalom (Eph. 2:14).