For the Christian, Holy Week is the pinnacle of our faith. It is our time to remember, meditate and mourn at the cross, but eventually celebrate at Easter. As with each year, this spring, if you let your imagination go for just a short while, you can almost hear the sounds and see the imagery that is portrayed in the artistry of God’s plan as it’s painted on a canvas of redemption for those who believe. Many scenes, many emotions, but only one purpose: life.
I am intrigued by the gospel accounts that convey to us this history-changing event. There are so many sub-plots that could, and should bring deep reflection for the Christ-follower. But the one that captivates me and encourages me the most is one line, recorded in Luke 23. In verse 45, he records these words, “…for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.” Luke was referring to the actual moment just before Jesus breathed His last human breath. As He hung there on the cross, He cried out to His Father, and died. But what about the curtain? What was the significance of the temple curtain tearing from top to bottom? I’m glad you asked.
In the Old Testament, under the old covenant, the high priest would sacrifice a perfect lamb in the most holy place of the temple for the forgiveness of the sins of the people once each year, called the Day of Atonement. In that Holy of Holies, the innermost place of the temple, the priest would enter into the presence of Holy God and make the sacrifice, shedding the blood of the spotless lamb. He was the only one allowed in that place. In fact, such fear surrounded that moment, that he would often have a rope tied around his ankle in the event that God would strike him dead because of sin. This rope would allow the people to pull his body out of that area without having to enter in. This was the place where the people believed God dwelt. And it was reserved only for the holiest of people. It was here that a heavy, thick curtain hung separating this place from the outer courts of the temple.
So when Luke records the event and he mentions that the curtain in the temple was torn in two, what I believe he was saying was that God’s plan was complete. Christ became the final, and complete, sacrifice for the sin of man, the true spotless lamb. No longer was there a need to have a mediator between man and God for the cleansing of sin. Jesus became that mediator for us. No longer was there fear of approaching God because of our sin. Jesus bore that on the cross and made a way for us to confidently approach God ourselves and confess our sins. When we finally understand what the significance of that one event means, we are liberated! We are set free! And we begin to see what God’s purpose was in providing a new covenant with His people through Jesus. We are introduced to a loving, redemptive God who desires a personal relationship with His highest creation, mankind. WOW!
That brings us back to God’s one purpose: life. We are given life and it’s eternal. It was God’s original plan, until sin entered the picture. So God provided the only spotless lamb that could provide life for all, Jesus. It is His blood that was shed that covers your sin and mine. And because of His death and resurrection, we are cleansed, if we truly confess and believe (Romans 10:9-10). This Easter, let’s celebrate! We have been given life. And that life is forever. Truly, the best is yet to come. Have a joyous Easter.
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