And the LORD scattered them away from there over the face of the entire world, and they stopped building the city. (Genesis 11:8)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Everyone was at peace. They all got along. They all had the same plan. They all even spoke the same language! So they moved to the land of Shinar, and built a city and tower there. “We’ll make a name for ourselves!” they thought. “We’ll all be together so we won’t be scattered over the face of the earth.”
Only one problem. There wasn’t true peace. They wanted to get back to God on their own. They knew there wasn’t peace with God, and so they saw to it themselves. “Bricks for stone, bitumen for mortar,” and “a tower with its top in the heavens.” That would solve the problem. Then there would be peace on earth and peace in the heavens. Then Yahweh’s judgment: Mix them up, scatter them!
We get ourselves into trouble. We sin. We turn from God. We turn on those around us. We turn inward on ourselves and act selfishly. And if that weren’t bad enough, when we start working together with others we’ll sin all the more! We’ll turn more from God. We’ll have our clique, our special group of friends, our tribe, and work against him or her or them! We’re one misspoken word away from all-out war—not just in the big wide world but our own lives, too, with our parents, siblings, even friends!
That division with God is a result of our sin. Our division with each other is, too. No amount of hard work either alone or together will fix it. There’s no tower or city or relationship we can build to fix it. We try. We promise. We’ll be better. But in the end, that solution is a dead end.
Only God can fix the problem. He does. In Jesus, He does. Jesus is lifted up, exalted, with His head in the heavens as He is crucified. He takes sin, our sins, and the division between God and man caused by it all, and He takes it into His own body, sheds His blood for it, dies for it. In Him and His death, division is divided and dead. God Himself makes peace with you in His own death for you and for others.
Jesus delivers that peace to you and to others in that Gospel. The Spirit undoes Babel at Pentecost through the preaching of the Gospel. What Jesus does cuts across all division because what He does is for all people, as the Spirit makes known. In Holy Baptism you’re in on what the Spirit is doing—delivering Jesus’ peace. His true peace. His lasting peace. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.