When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.”
Acts 11: 18
I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 10: 9-10
. . .
I love the places in Scripture where the surprise comes through clearly. The believers at Jerusalem were suspicious of Peter. He had been hanging around with the wrong people. So when Peter tells them about his vision and about the Spirit being given to Cornelius and those with him, they accept it with some bewilderment. Imagine the murmurs of amazement!
How is this possible? We find out in John’s gospel: Jesus. (Funny how so often Jesus is the answer…) The thing that ties the two passages together (and probably the psalm along with them) is life. God grants the Gentiles “the repentance that leads to life,” and Jesus came “that they may have life.”
And still we’re surprised. The grace of God, when we glimpse it in its enormity (I love the translation of the Benedictus that refers to the “bottomless mercy” of God–I think that captures it nicely), has the power to sweep up off our feet. Other authorities lord it over their subjects; false shepherds lead the sheep to the slaughter; but this shepherd is different; this Lord is different. Jesus gives life rather than taking it, and gives his own life for the sake of the sheep, rather than the other way around.
It looks for a moment as if God is turning everything upside down. But that’s not quite it. We turned it upside down–or our first parents did–and we’ve got used to it being this way. Jesus comes along to set it to rights again.