"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." (Ephesians 2:13)
To the Jews, the Gentiles were those who were 'far off'. They were seen as those who were lost. In fact, there were signs on the outer walls of the Temple area that said that if a Gentile entered, their life would be killed/stoned. The beauty of the verse above is the change identified; those who were far off, have been brought near, that is, reconciled back to the heavenly Father.
Recently I have been adding two devotional resources to my regular ones. One is by a veteran of the Vietnam War ("police action") and the other is a very small booklet entitled, A Simple Way to Pray by Dr. Martin Luther. It centers prayer in four areas: Instruction, Thanksgiving, Confession and Prayer.
In many years of living as a sinner and working with sinners like me, I have found that of those four portions of Luther's prayer practice, confession is the most difficult for sinners. The greater the sin the greater the resistance to confession. BUT, confession a source of God's gift of peace.
Each of us sinners was far off from God, and this is by Sin. What brings us back to God is the blood of Christ. The gulf of sin that separates us from God isn't something that you can swim or cross by working hard or building a bridge. The fact is, sin means you have nothing to make yourself acceptable to God. In the Old Testament, the Law stood between you and God. Touch Mt. Sinai and you die. That's what sin gets.
The Good News is that there is the blood of Christ. It brings you and me back to God because it removes the thing that separates us, i.e., sin. The blood of Jesus Christ, shed as He hung on the cross, wipes out our sins. His life is given in exchange for yours. He dies for your sin so you don't. He is punished so you never are. He is forsaken by the Father so that you never will be. His blood shed for you brings you back.
But this isn't just some abstract notion of His blood. So many churches talk about the "blood of Jesus" but they don't know where it is. The blood of Christ which brings you back is actually a gift to you. It's sprinkled upon you through the waters of Holy Baptism. It's flung at you in the words of absolution and preaching. It's given you to drink in the cup of the Supper. There it is: the real blood of Jesus you can be sure takes away your sins.
Life has a way of making you think you're a great distance away from God, or that He's pretty far away from you. Confession is the means by which we proclaim what we have done that is offensive to God, in order that God in the blood of Christ says, "No, you are forgiven. You are in. You are reconciled back into His presence! You are His!" Confession draws our hearts to admit our sin and guilt. The forgiveness God promised and provided for us in Christ, is not just a vague promise. It is the promise of a God who never breaks His Word. The reality demonstrated at the Baptismal Font and at the Altar where Jesus' blood is given for your salvation in a real and certain way. It is by His blood. It is by His promises that we are forgiven and free. Christ has brought you back to Himself because He loves. Our biggest problem is not confessing our sins, but to neglect laying our sins at the feet of our Lord. Honestly confessing our sins is painful in the reality of our failings, but you are refreshed in the forgiveness of your sins, and are resting in the peace that surpasses our human understanding, all by the Life and Blood of Christ 'for you'.
But Christ, the heavenly Lamb, Takes all our sins away; A sacrifice of nobler name And richer blood than they [the sacrificed animals].
(Not All the Blood of Beasts, LSB 431:2)